Ballymurphy soldiers 'not identified'

Ballymurphy soldiers 'not identified'

The Army has said it has not identified all the paratroopers involved in the Ballymurphy Massacre which killed 10 people in 1971.

During a preliminary hearing ahead of new inquests, the Ministry of Defence also revealed that it would be impossible to trace the weapons used in three days of shooting in the incident in west Belfast as the weapons used were not properly recorded after the incident.Lawyers representing relatives had asked the MoD to cross reference the personnel files of the soldiers to establish if they had been involved in other lethal force incidents in the region around the same period.Family members believe paratroopers on the ground in Ballymurphy may have also been in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday six months later, when 14 civilians were fatally wounded during a civil rights protest.In providing a response to the cross referencing request, a barrister representing the MoD and police said there was no objection in principle to conducting the exercise but revealed not all the soldiers involved in Ballymurphy had been identified.Dr Tony McGleenan QC told coroner Jim Kitson: "I believe not all have been, but a number have."Mr Kitson instructed that the cross referencing should begin on the personnel files of the soldiers the MoD was aware of."If there are additional witnesses that need to have that exercise done to their personnel files then they can be added to our list of persons," he explained.Later Dr McGleenan told the court, which was full with members of the Ballymurphy families, that the MoD would not be able to trace the weapons used.He said: "The serial numbers of the weapons discharged were not recorded at that time.""It will be possible to obtain weapons of a similar type but not the actual weapons."Sean Devine, representing some of the bereaved relatives, expressed concern."It is a matter of disappointment," he said."Especially as in other historic inquests weapons were capable of being traced."The new inquest was ordered by the Attorney General John Larkin in 2011.That move came after a cold case review of the deaths by the Historical Enquiries Team.The Government has rejected calls from the families for a probe into the killings, saying it was not in the public interest.


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