Ballymurphy inquiry calls rejected

Ballymurphy inquiry calls rejected

Families of those murdered in the Ballymurphy killings say they are outraged after the British Government rejected calls for an independent investigation into the deaths in August 1971.

On Tuesday Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said she had taken time to consider the families' proposal for an independent review panel after meeting with them and hearing their stories of loss."In my view, the balance of public interest does not favour establishing an independent review," she explained."I do not believe that such a review would provide answers which are not already in the public domain or covered by existing legal processes."In reaching this decision, I have sought to balance the strong and clear views of the families with the need to ensure that existing legal mechanisms can continue to carry out their functions without being impeded by an additional process. That includes the ongoing Coroner's inquests."A Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight were among the 10 people shot by paratroopers in the West Belfast area, while an 11th person died of a heart attack during the event.The Army has claimed that its troops opened fire on the day in question after being shot at by republicans, as it acted to round up suspected paramilitaries after internment was introduced.However, the families of those killed have always maintained their innocence.Ms Villiers said she was willing to meet them again.Notwithstanding this setback, I hope that it will still be possible to find a way for the families to get the truth and to vindicate fully the good names of their loved ones.Taoiseach Enda KennyPrevious calls for an independent investigation have been refused by the Secretary of State.The NIO statement said an additional review would cut across the ongoing legal process of fresh inquests which have been opened by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.It added that should the inquests reveal indications of criminal activity, "it would be a matter for the PSNI and independent prosecuting authorities to judge whether prosecutions should be pursued."Solicitor Padraig O'Muirigh said the families are considering a judicial review proceedings against the decision.He said: "In my view, this panel would complement that process. We've seen, if you compare this to Hillsborough, those families had an independent panel, and now have an inquest and it clearly wasn't seen as something that would impede those inquests."Mr O'Muirigh said the families would continue with their campaign for an independent panel as they do not have confidence in any future HET investigations.Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who has met the families and supports the call for a review, expressed disappointment."Following our meeting in January, I wrote to Prime Minister Cameron asking that the families' request for a limited review be granted. I also raised the matter with him at our meeting in London on 11 March."Consequently, I am disappointed with today's news, which I know will come as a blow to the families."The NIO also stated that the Secretary of State had also informed families affected by the La Mon House bombing that she had decided not to initiate a de Silva type review into the case.Twelve Protestant people, including a RUC reservist, were killed in the IRA bombing of a hotel in the countryside outside Belfast in February 1978."I understand that this is not the decision they were hoping for, but I do not believe that an independent review would reveal new evidence or reach a different conclusion from the investigations that have already taken place," Ms Villiers said.

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