Files sought on Ballymurphy soldiers

Published Tuesday, 20 May 2014
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Families of those shot dead by paratroopers in Ballymurphy in 1971 have urged the Ministry of Defence to reveal if any of the soldiers deployed there were also involved in the Bloody Sunday killings six months later.

Files sought on Ballymurphy soldiers
Ballymurphy families were refused an inquiry by the SoS last month. (© Pacemaker)

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 over the three-day period.

The Army has claimed that its troops opened fire 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.

At a preliminary hearing ahead of an inquest on Tuesday, lawyers for the bereaved relatives called for a cross-referencing exercise to be carried out by the MoD to establish whether the servicemen had any role in other lethal force incidents.

Different battalions were deployed in Ballymurphy and Londonderry, where 14 people were killed during a civil rights march in January 1972, but relatives believe there was still a significant possibility of overlap.

Barrister Fiona Doherty, representing the Ballymurphy families, told the coroner they were seeking that the MoD disclose files on soldiers involved to review their service records.

Coroner Jim Kitson agreed that there would be an expectation that the MoD would perform such cross-referencing.

A lawyer for the MoD did not outline details on how the request would be progressed.

During the hearing, the coroner requested that an expert review all the original pathology evidence to see if scientific advances could shed light on the circumstances of the killings.

Mr Kiston said: "It's 2014 and I believe it is certainly worthwhile for a pathologist to review all the pathology evidence.

"There have clearly been advances in the last years in regard to pathology and a fresh eye being cast over this evidence can do no harm."

The coroner also indicated that fresh statements may need to be taken from the witnesses of the shootings.

Prime Minister David Cameron apologised in 2010 following the findings of Lord Saville that the Bloody Sunday killings carried out by paratroopers were unjustified.

But last month, the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said there would be no inquiry into events in Ballymurphy as it was not in the public interest and it could impede the inquest ordered by the NI Attorney General.

© UTV News
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1 Comments
Jimbo in Belfast wrote (203 days ago):
Lets hope for swift justice, this time.
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