Northern Ireland news

Ballymurphy killings inquest to begin in September 2018

The Ballymurphy families outside the High Court in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

AN inquest into the deaths of 10 people shot by British soldiers in west Belfast in August 1971 will get underway next year following a lengthy campaign by victims' families.

The victims, including parish priest Fr Hugh Mullan and mother-of-eight Joan Connolly, were shot by Parachute Regiment soldiers in Ballymurphy over a three-day period after the introduction of internment.

An eleventh person, Paddy McCarthy, died of a heart attack after a confrontation with members of the regiment.

High Court judge Mr Justice Colton said yesterday that an inquest hearing will begin in September 2018. He expects it to last three months.

It comes as more than 50 Troubles-related inquests remain stuck in the system due to a dispute over additional funding for the cases.

John Teggart, whose father Danny was killed at Ballymurphy, said the families were thrilled that a hearing has now been listed.

"Judge Colton, fair play to him, has taken hold. He said there's the date, get ready for it and we are happy with that," he said.

"It's an emotional day for all the families, they have worked hard and our legal team have worked hard to get to this, and there is a lot of work to be done."

Mr Teggart said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) now needs to provide the names of the soldiers involved so they can be traced.

"I would hope that the MoD would be honest, fair and truthful and disclose the documents that we need," he said.

Solicitor Pádraig Ó Muirigh said suggestions about how the soldiers can be traced have been given to the coroner.

"We have identified a number of ways that this could be progressed and the coroner has taken those ideas on board and the coronial investigators will take that forward in the coming months before the inquests," he said.

Briege Voyle, daughter of Joan Connolly, also welcomed the inquest date.

"I just think this is amazing," she said.

"We families have waited 46 years for this and it should have been here sooner, but thank God somebody has listened to us and we are going to get our day in court and our loved ones will be declared innocent at last."

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams praised the families' "unflagging determination" in their fight for justice.

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