Northern Ireland news

Witness denies making up gunmen account at Ballymurphy inquest

Families of victims of the Ballymurphy massacre outside court in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell
Paul Ainsworth

AN account by a witness at the Ballymurphy inquest describing "armed men" being shot at the spot where victims died has been described as "bizarre" by a barrister representing families of the deceased.

Resuming evidence he began in May at the hearing into the 1971 deaths at the hands of Parachute Regiment soldiers, the civilian witness, known as C3, told the inquest yesterday that he saw eight armed men run across waste ground at Springfield Park.

The witness, who was 16 at the time, claimed he was lying in grass a short distance from where Father Hugh Mullan and Frank Quinn were shot on August 9.

He told the inquest he saw eight armed individuals running in single file before the last fell after being shot.

C3, who lived in the mainly Protestant Springmartin area at the time, claimed to see Fr Mullan run to the man's aid and lift a rifle before the priest was also shot.

The evidence was described as a "bizarre account" by a barrister for the Mullan and Quinn families, who said his claims were untrue.

Insisting he was "trying my best" to remember what happened, C3 denied making up his claims in order to "malign" the deceased when quizzed as to why he described Fr Mullan as wearing clerical robes at the time he was shot, despite clear evidence the priest was not wearing robes when he was killed.

Meanwhile, soldier M506 also returned to give evidence at Monday's hearing, and denied firing shots from the roof of Vere Foster school.

He said that an account from a previous witness, soldier M138, who claimed M506 had fired his weapon, was incorrect.

M506 said he had only ever fired his rifle at a firing range throughout his time in Northern Ireland.

He told the inquest he should be "commended for the lives I saved".

The hearing continues.

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