Today had been listed for many months as the opening of the new inquest into the Ballymurphy Massacre, when 11 people were killed by members of the British Parachute Regiment between 9th and 11th August, 1971.
Mrs Justice Keegan is presiding over the inquest and shows great concern to keep momentum moving despite the prevarication over disclosure by the Ministry of Defence and continuing problems over identification of relevant military witnesses. Her concern seems genuine for families to have a sense that things are moving forward.
A considerable body of supporters walked from the City Hall to the courts in a great show of encouragement and solidarity for the families in the lead up to the hearing.
Once the inquest convened, in the largest court in the building (a reflection of the level of interest), a short hearing heard of a revised timetable as set out below.
Essentially, it is hoped to get through non-contentious material between November and the Christmas break, consisting of opening matters, and routine witnesses: ambulance personnel, mappers, witnesses with factual information about the area and the circumstances leading to the deaths. In 2019, the contentious witness evidence will be heard: military personnel, eye-witnesses, forensic and ballistics evidence and so on. In detail, the schedule is now as follows:
Week beginning 6th November, screening applications (for witnesses who wish to give anonymised testimony)
Week beginning 12th November, formal opening of inquest and family statements. Each family will nominate one member to give a statement about their loved one, their lives, the impact of the loss on their family and their hopes for and expectations of the inquest. Counsel of the coroner will then make an opening statement outlining the general circumstances of the deaths, post-incident matters, the practice at the time for the Royal Military Police to interview soldiers involved, proceedings at the first inquest, some details on the structure and manner of proceedings for the inquest and the law and any precedents to be borne in mind for proceedings. The scope of the inquest will also be outlined.
Along with the non-contentious evidence, this should all take matters through to the Christmas break. Tracing of military witnesses will continue through the autumn, with Fridays set aside for this task and any rulings required in relation to it.
The inquest will normally be in session from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Thursday, in Court 12, on the fourth floor of the Laganside Court building.
The inquest is set to last for a considerable number of months, and given previous experience of the behaviour of the British military and MoD, further delays and prevarication are no doubt to be expected.
With many thanks to: Relatives For Justice for the original posting.
The film shown on Channel 4 on Saturday details the deaths of eleven people during the Ballymurphy Massacre.
There has been huge online reaction to the network premier of Massacre at Ballymurphy, the hard hitting documentary by award making film maker Callum Macrea, which screened on Channel 4 at the weekend.
The film, which was previously premiered at Féile an Phobail, was shown on Saturday, with a reconstruction and forensic examination of the events which started on August 9, 1971.
The documentary contains personal stories from relatives of the ten people shot dead in West Belfast by members of the Parachute regiment over three days of horrific violence. Paddy McCarthy, considered the 11th victim, died of a heart attack after soldiers fired shots over his head.
Among the dead a mother of eight Joan Connolly and Catholic priest, Fr Hugh Mullan who was shot dead going to the rescue of another victim.
The film details a shocking reenactment of the circumstances of Daniel Teggart’s death, shot fourteen times, with most of the bullets entered his back as he lay injured on the ground.
Following the programme Unionist Irish language activist Linda Ervine posted on Twitter that; “Before watching #MassacreAtBallymurphy I had no knowledge of what took place all those years ago. A terrible wrong has been done”.
Documentary maker Seán Murray said he hoped the screening of the film by Channel 4 “awakens the British public to the actions of their government during the conflict Well done to my friend Callum Macrae and all involved”.
Journalist and broadcast celebrity, Eamonn Holmes tweeted in support of film maker Callum Macrea saying; “Regardless of your Political persuasion or views on the Northern Irish Troubles, I would urge you to both hear what this man has to say and watch his film if you can. The Year is 1971 . The subject is the killing of civilians by the Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy West Belfast”.
Ian Katz, director of programmes at Channel 4 said; “Ashamed to say I knew nothing about the Ballymurphy massacre – the 1971 killing of 11 men and women by the British army in Belfast – till I saw Callum Macrae’s meticulous and shocking reconstruction of it”.
Scottish political activist Tommy Sheridan said it was, “Absolutely shocking”.
“I am ashamed that despite my limited knowledge of British Army atrocities in Northern Ireland I didn’t know about these state murders in Ballymurphy.
“No wonder the British Establishment have hidden such massacres from the general public for 47 years”, he added.
Former soldier Glenn Bradley said he had “met the Ballymurphy families some years ago and have supported their call for truth since
“I watched Massacre At Ballymurphy and my lasting thought is how docile and compliant were the media then”.
Belfast boxer Michael Conlon said; “Watching Ballymurphy Massacre and listening to what family’s have gone through and still going through, my eyes are filling up, very sad stories to poor innocent families”. Former An trim football captain Anto Finnegan said: ” This is not writing history, this is shining a light into that dark place those in power want to keep hidden.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.
THE Ballymurphy Massacre families have said that the latest ‘stunt’ by the British Ministry of Defence will not derail their much anticipated inquest into the murder of there loved ones.
A preliminary inquest into the atrocity takes place at 2pm today (Thursday) at Belfast’s High Court.
Last week the MoD handed over a database containing almost 5,000 names of former soldiers to the Coroner’s Office.
The spreadsheet contains 1,366 names from the Parachute Regiment, 1,542 names from the Queen’s Regiment and eight names from the Queen’s Division. A further 1,492 names appear to be duplicates, meaning ‘when an individual has multiple regiments, or units on their Record
With many thanks to the: Belfast Media Group’s for the original story
Justice Keegan appoints additional council, Mr Michael McCartan, to “specifically” and “exclusively” deal with military witness issues including tracing.
Ballymurphy Massacre families in court today Wednesday 11th July for another preliminary hearing (PH) in advance of the inquests starting in September. Groundhog day was the feeling as the legal teams reviewed outstanding issues including tracing of soldiers and the ruling on the UVF application for Properly Interested Party (PIP) status, which if granted will give them access to all the documentation, witness statements and they will be able to cross examine witness including family member.
Unfortunately, the Judge will make a ruling on this application at the next PH on the 27th July, but hopefully when the judge has considered all the submissions from the other legal teams she will rule against it. At the last PH Karen Quinliven argued against granting PIP status on the grounds that witness x was not in fact a witness but and third party who was relaying “gossip” and “hearsay” to the court as if it were evidence.
The issue of tracing soldiers remains high on the agenda for families, at every opportunity the MOD have been dragging their heals in relation to identifying those responsible for the shootings in Ballymurphy, losing cipher lists, not knowing the postal address for Veteran’s associations and breaching deadlines set by the coroner to produce information and on almost every occasion handing in information the day before or the morning of the hearing making it impossible for the legal representatives for the next of kin to respond to until the next hearing again delaying the process.
The Coroner Justice Keegan today acknowledged again that the MOD keep breaching deadlines and set the 20th July as the final date for producing information in relation to tracing of soldiers, she also acknowledged that the tracing of military witnesses was of utmost importance and appointed addition council, Mr Michael McCartan, to “specifically” and “exclusively” to deal with military witness issues.
This is good news for families who have been arguing all along for additional resources to be put in place to trace soldiers, wither that be a tracing agency or the appointment of additional council who’s role is to focus on tracing soldiers exclusively.