Northern Ireland news

Boris Johnson's Ballymurphy apology branded 'totally insincere'

An apology made yesterday by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in relation to the Ballymurphy Massacre has been branded "totally insincere" by relatives of those killed
Marie Louise McConville

AN apology by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre victims has been branded "totally insincere".

John Teggart, whose father Daniel was one of those killed, said the apology yesterday was unacceptable.

Mr Johnson's formal apology came a week after a coroner found that 10 people who died in August 1971 in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast were "entirely innocent".

Families of those killed by members of the British Army, including a mother-of-eight and a Catholic priest, had fought for decades for justice.

Opening Prime Minister's Questions yesterday in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson read out the names of the victims.

He then said: "On behalf of successive governments, and to put on the record in this House, I'd like to say sorry to their families for how the investigations were handled, for the pain they've endured since their campaign began almost five decades ago.

"No apology can lessen their lasting pain, I hope they may take some comfort in the answers they have secured and in knowing this has renewed the government's determination to ensure in future that other families can find answers without distress and delay."

However, the apology was rejected by families.

Mr Teggart described the apology as "totally unacceptable", adding that he personally rejected it.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Mr Teggart said the apology had "caused annoyance to the families".

Mr Teggart said it should have focused on "our loved ones who were murdered" not how the investigation was handled.

He also ruled out ever meeting the prime minister saying he "wouldn't waste a minute of his time with him".

"I won't be letting him annoy me any more, I have no time for him and his feeble attempts to apologise," he said.

Mary Kate Quinn, whose uncle John Laverty was killed, tweeted to say the families had not been informed that Mr Johnson would be making a statement.

She wrote: "We found out from journalists. Yet again, that was not an apology. Boris did not apologise for the killings of our loved ones."

Mr Johnson's handling of the government's apology had previously been heavily criticised.

He last week sent a letter to the Ballymurphy families to apologise to them in writing however this drew an angry response from the relatives, who claimed he should be making a public statement in parliament.

They also criticised him for referring to the killings as "events" rather than a "massacre".

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