Northern Ireland

Civil cases brought by Ballymurphy families are settled

 Families of those killed during the Ballymurphy Killings stand holding images of loved ones outside The Crown Court in Belfast
 Families of those killed during the Ballymurphy Killings stand holding images of loved ones outside The Crown Court in Belfast  Families of those killed during the Ballymurphy Killings stand holding images of loved ones outside The Crown Court in Belfast

Relatives of nine of those killed by the British Army in Ballymurphy, west Belfast are to receive “significant” undisclosed damages as part of settlements reached in their civil actions.

The amounts paid out in each case were not disclosed in court but the judge ordered the MoD to pay legal costs for the claims claims brought against the Ministry of Defence over the shootings in August 1971.

Following the announcement, Mr Justice Humphreys told the victims’ families: “As well over 50 years have elapsed since these events occurred, I’m acutely aware of the significance of today as part of the process that all of you have had to go through.

“My congratulations to all of you, for having reached the end of a very long road.”

Ten people were shot dead during three days of gunfire in the west Belfast neighbourhood which became known as the Ballymurphy massacre.

Members of the Parachute Regiment moved into the area in an operation launched following the introduction of internment in Northern Ireland.

The victims included a priest trying to aid one of the wounded and a mother-of-eight. Another man later died of heart failure.

In May last year an inquest found that the victims were entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

The coroner, now Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan, ruled that the soldiers' use of force was not justified.

Lawyers for those bereaved in the massacre brought civil actions against the Ministry of Defence and Chief Constable of the PSNI, claiming damages for negligence and misfeasance in public office.

The cases had been listed for a week-long trial, due to get underway at the High Court today.

But confidential settlements were announced in actions relating to the deaths of Fr Hugh Mullan, Frank Quinn, Joan Connolly, Noel Phillips, Daniel Teggart, Edward Doherty, Joseph Corr, John Laverty and Joseph Murphy.

Counsel for the plaintiffs added that the claims against the Chief Constable were to be discontinued.

Meanwhile, litigation in connection with the deaths of John McKerr and Paddy McCarthy, as well as others shot and injured by the British Army in the same incidents, is ongoing.

Before rising, Mr Justice Humphreys welcomed the settlements reached following an inquest process involving many months of “arduous” evidence.

Wishing the families well, he said: “This court would of course happily have heard and made a decision in relation to all of the compensation claims that have been brought on behalf of the deceased victims of what happened at Ballymurphy.

“But it’s absolutely the best thing that the cases were resolved without a further court hearing. It’s a good outcome for all concerned.”

Outside court Padraig O Muirigh of O Muirigh Solicitors, who represented eight of the nine families, said: “The confidential nature of the settlement of this legal action prevents me disclosing the settlement figure.

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

Mr O Muirigh added: “Whilst nothing will bring back their loved ones or reverse the traumatic impact these events have had on these families, it would be hoped that with the satisfactory conclusion of this litigation, following the milestone inquest findings last year, can bring some small degree of comfort to the Ballymurphy families.” ends

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously issued an apology to the families in the House of Commons for the series of shootings over three days which came in the wake of the introduction of internment in Northern Ireland.