Northern Ireland

Brothers shot during Ballymurphy Massacre to receive ‘significant’ settlement

Mother and Catholic priest among Ballymurphy dead

Martin (left) and Edward Butler
Martin (left) and Edward Butler

Two brothers who survived the Ballymurphy Massacre have agreed a “significant” settlement.

Edward and Martin Butler were shot and injured when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civilians in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in August 1971

Ten people were killed over three days after the introduction of internment.

The dead included Joan Connolly, a mother of eight, and Father Hugh Mullan, a priest shot as he tried to give the last rites to a dying man.

Another man died following a heart attack after allegedly being put through the ordeal of a mock execution by British troops.

Both the Butler brothers gave evidence to the Ballymurphy Inquest.

In 2021 a coroner found that all of the victims were “entirely innocent” and that British soldiers were responsible for the deaths of nine of those killed.

She also found that the use of lethal force by troops was not justified.

An apology from former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was later rejected by relatives of the dead.

Edward was just 11-years-old, while his younger brother Martin was aged 9 when they were shot and wounded in an area known as ‘The Manse’ field, which was opposite the Henry Teggart British Army barracks.

Four other people were killed in the area during the massacre.

Settlements have previously been agreed with some relatives of those who lost their lives.

The brothers had taken action against the Ministry of Defence and PSNI chief constable.

Pádraig Ó Muirigh, of Ó Muirigh Solicitors, confirmed that a settlement has been reached in the case.

“The confidential nature of the settlement prevents me disclosing the settlement figure,” he said.

“I can confirm, though, that the figure is significant and that our clients are satisfied with the outcome of this litigation.”

The events of Augusts 1971 would not be the last time the Butler family was impacted by the Troubles.

Less than a year later, their father Patrick Butler was one of five Catholics, including a priest and three teenagers, shot dead by British soldiers in what became known as the Springhill/Whirerock Massacre in July 1972.

The inquest into those killings is currently ongoing.

Under the British government’s controversial Legacy Act, all inquests that have not reached their findings stage by May 1 will be closed down.

Mr Ó Muirigh said “robust legal proceedings have provided much information about what happened to those families who lost loved ones and those who were left with serious injuries at the hands of the British army”.

“This draconian legislation is a clear breach of the European Convention of Human Rights and other international human rights standards and should be repealed immediately,” he added.