New inquests into Ballymurphy massacre to open

The families of the Ballymurphy victims have long campaigned for justice. Credit: Presseye

New inquests into the Ballymurphy Massacre in which ten people were shot dead in west Belfast in August 1971 are due to begin on Monday.

A priest was among those shot dead as he tried to help one of the wounded. A mother of eight was also killed in the shootings involving members of the Parachute Regiment. Another man later died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with the Parachute Regiment troops in the west Belfast estate.

The first two weeks of the new inquests will hear impact statements from the families of those killed.Evidence in the first inquest will be heard in the week commencing November 28th.

In 2011, Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin directed that new inquests be heard after a long campaign by family members, who claimed the original coronial probes in the aftermath of the shootings were inadequate.

Coroner Ms Justice Siobhan Keegan confirmed the inquests would proceed as scheduled on Monday during a final preparatory hearing in Belfast last week.

The shootings took place as the Army moved in to republican strongholds toarrest IRA suspects in the wake of the introduction of internment without trial – the controversial policy introduced by the Stormont administration at the time.

Soldiers have long been held responsible for killing all 10 people inBallymurphy between August 9 and August 11 1971, but the accepted narrative became clouded earlier this year when former members of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force came forward to claim their organisation was also involved.