Northern Ireland news

Daughter of Ballymurphy victim calls for Parachute Regiment to be disbanded

 Briege Voyle, daughter of Joan Connolly, speaking at the podium at the event, involving families of people who were killed at Ballymurphy, at Corpus Christi Youth Centre in Belfast.
Michelle Devane, PA

A daughter of one of the 10 people killed in west Belfast in shootings involving British soldiers 50 years ago has called for the disbandment of the Parachute Regiment.

Breige Voyle, one of Joan Connolly’s daughters, described the regiment as a “disgrace” and said it should be disbanded.

Ms Voyle made the comments after a coroner in Belfast ruled that all of the 10 people who were shot and killed were “entirely innocent” of any wrongdoing and that their deaths were unjustified.

The Army has been found to be responsible for nine of the 10 deaths in August 1971, which included Ms Connelly, who was a mother-of-eight, and a Catholic priest.

Ms Voyle said her mother was “no gun woman” and that the coroner’s findings were clear that she was innocent.

“Unlike Mummy, the Parachute Regiment only had hate in their hearts when they gunned down her and the others,” Ms Voyle said.

“They were not peacemakers, they were not brave soldiers. They were nothing but cowards. They shot my mummy, an unarmed mother-of-eight, from the safety of their barracks.

“They were cowards then, they were cowards now. They didn’t have the courage to appear at the inquest and face up to their crimes. They didn’t have the courage to answer our questions.

“We deserve answers. Why did they shoot my mummy? Why did they leave her in a field to die. What were their orders and who gave them? Who helped them covered up their cowardly act? Who ordered their lies to be told?”

Ms Voyle said this was the same regiment that “murdered innocent people in the streets in Derry a few months later”.

“They are a combat force, not peacekeepers, they have blood on their hands,” she said.

“They came here to wreak havoc killing and maiming wherever they went and then were given medals for their crimes.

“Their regiment is a disgrace and should be disbanded.”

Ms Voyle said her family will not accept the British Government’s plans to give an amnesty to soldiers accused of crimes during the Troubles.

She said three soldiers had made statements admitting they had shot her mother but none had faced prosecution.

“They did not co-operate with the inquest and they were supported by the MoD, who used every dirty trick in the book to block this process,” she said.

“Why? So they can get a few extra votes in Britain? Shame on you Boris. No-one should be above the law.

“We will not accept your amnesty for murderers. Every victim should have a right to pursue their justice. We will never give up. We will fight on.

“Our children, our grandchildren will fight on. You will not win. My father died a broken man because of what they did. He was left with eight children to bring up on his own.”

Read More: Ballymurphy Inquest: Who were the 10 people killed?

 Briege Voyle, daughter of victim Joan Connolly, releases doves in the Ballymurphy area. A cavalcade of cars passed through Ballymurphy, thanking the community for its support over the past 50 years

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