The families of 11 people murdered by British paratroopers in west Belfast 40 years ago have said they are “deeply disappointed” by the decision to refuse an independent investigation into their deaths.
The Ballymurphy Massacre Group, whose loved ones were killed during a 36-hour period after the introduction of internment-without-trial in August 1971, described a response by British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson as “totally unacceptable and disrespectful”.
They were speaking after British direct ruler Paterson wrote to them to say that “having considered the case carefully, I decided that a public inquiry or international independent investigation would not be in the public interest because other investigative processes were already under way”.
It is understood Paterson was referring to a police investigation by the RUC/PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET).
The families have been campaigning for years for an independent inquiry into the events during disturbances between August 9 and 11 1971.
Ten of the victims, including a mother-of-eight and a Catholic priest, were shot by the soldiers. An 11th died of a heart attack after being intimidated by troops.
Some British soldiers involved in the massacre have openly admitted engaging in illegal actions such as planting bullets on the bodies of those killed — but have never been called to testify.
Padraig O Muirigh, a lawyer representing the families, described Mr Paterson’s decision as “a slap in the face”.
“The campaign for truth will go on despite the correspondence from Owen Paterson but I think it’s imperative now that the Taoiseach intervenes and meets with the families directly and puts pressure on the British government to re assess their decision in this case,” he said.
“This campaign will go on until the full truth unfolds.”
In a group statement read by Briege Voyle, whose mother Joan Connolly was among those killed, the relatives said that at a meeting with the families in October 2010, Paterson “made a commitment to us that he would make a decision on this issue in early 2011”.
“The delay and manner of his response is totally unacceptable and disrespectful to the families,” she said.
Mrs Voyle said the group has “no confidence in the HET’. It requested a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and called for “leadership” from Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the matter.
Members of the Ballymurphy Massacre group are to take part in march in Belfast this Saturday alongside other nationalists who continue to campaign on truth and justice issues. The march is being held in conjunction with the controversial visit to the north of Ireland next week of British monarch Elizabeth Windsor.
Story source: Irish republican news