Northern Ireland news

Ballymurphy Massacre: Victims killed hours after internment introduced

Ballymurphy in west Belfast in 1971
Connla Young

THE Ballymurphy Massacre took place over three days after the introduction of internment in August 1971.

Tensions in the area were high as hundreds of British soldiers took part in a co-ordinated series of raids on homes to round up republican suspects.

Members of the Parachute Regiment and Queen’s Own Regiment were in the area at the time as violence broke out.

It is believed that some of the Parachute Regiment soldiers present in Ballymurphy were also in Derry on Bloody Sunday when 14 Catholic men were shot dead a few months later in January 1972.

At around 8.30pm on August 9, in the Springfield Park area, a local man was shot and wounded by British soldiers as he tried to cross a field.

Ballymurphy massacre campaigners sceptical about UVF claims

Fr Hugh Mullan later contacted British soldiers commandeered at Henry Taggart memorial hall to tell them he was going to help the wounded man.

Despite holding a white baby grow, he was shot twice and was killed.

Another local man, Frank Quinn (19), attempted to go to the aid of Fr Mullan and was himself shot in the head.

Both men’s bodies lay for a time where they fell until it was safe for local people to retrieve them.

As tensions rose, Catholic homes in the area came under attack from loyalists.

Later that evening a group of people gathered at the bottom of Springfield Park close to the Henry Taggart base.

Relatives of those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre hold photos of the victims 

Shots believed to have been fired from the base struck the group a short time later.

When the shooting stopped four people had been killed including 20-year-old Noel Phillips and father-of-10 Daniel Taggart (44), who was hit 14 times.

Another man, Joseph Murphy (41), died three weeks later from his injuries.

After being taken to the nearby military base it was claimed he was beaten and had objects pushed into his bullet wound.

It has also been claimed a rubber bullet was fired into the wound while he was in custody.

Mother-of-eight Joan Connolly was also killed after being shot in the head.

Six Ballymurphy victims were killed close to an area in which the UVF was active

The 50-year-old had been searching for her children when she was struck.

The killing resumed the following day when Edward Doherty (28) was shot once in the back while standing close to a barricade in the Whiterock Road area.

From the Lower Falls, he had been visiting his parents in Turf Lodge.

Later that day John Laverty (20) was also shot in the back in the Whiterock Road area.

Joseph Corr (43) was shot and killed during the same incident and died on August 27.

On August 11 youth worker Paddy McCarthy (44) suffered a hand injury after a Red Cross flag he was carrying was shot out of his hand by British soldiers.

It has been reported he was later challenged by soldiers and died from a heart attack after allegedly being put through the ordeal of a mock execution.

On the same day, father-of-two John McKerr was shot in the head by troops close to Corpus Christi Church and died on August 20.

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