Families of Ballymurphy victims 'just want money' claims ex-army medic

Credit: Ballymurphy Massacre Committee

A former Army medic has claimed that families of 10 people killed in theso-called Ballymurphy massacre "just want money".

The civilians were shot dead over the course of three days in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in 1971.

The sequence of events started on 9th August, as the British Army moved into republican strongholds to arrest IRA suspects after the introduction by the Stormont administration of the controversial policy of internment withouttrial.

A new inquest at Belfast Coroner's Court is examining the deaths of the 10civilians.

Six were killed on 9th August including a Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight.

Witness Statement Disputed

Nigel Mumford, who was attached to the Second Battalion of the ParachuteRegiment in Ballymurphy on 9th August, disputed a witness statement given to the inquest by David Callaghan saying that he had been badly beaten by soldiers at a temporary Army base at Henry Taggart Hall.

Mr Mumford told the inquest he recalled treating Mr Callaghan for a bulletwound on his arm, and insisted nobody attacked him in the hall.

"What you have heard is perjury from families that want money, no soldiertouched that man," Mr Mumford said, giving evidence from an undisclosedlocation by videolink, to audible shock in the Belfast courtroom.

Claims that IRA gunmen were in the Ballymurphy area at the time have been disputed during the inquest hearings.

Mr Mumford said he heard an officer suggest planting ammunition in the clothing of the wounded.

"I would not allow it," he said, but when asked whether he had reported what happened, said he did not want to negatively impact his career.

"It takes a brave man to go up against an officer in the British Army."

Mr Mumford told the inquest he saw IRA gunmen armed with Thompson submachine guns, Armalite rifles and pistols outside Henry Taggart Hall.

He said he was shot at as he cleared stones thrown at the front of the hall.

That task had been allocated to him as a punishment after he shouted "Up the IRA, by the f***ing neck" at a crowd.

'It was like Guy Fawkes Night'

"The first gunfire started on me outside the Henry Taggart Hall. I could hearexplosions and bullets going off everywhere, it was like Guy Fawkes Night," he said.

He also told the inquest he heard an officer give the order to soldiers toshoot to kill.

Earlier on Tuesday Mr Mumford described seeing soldiers mete out psychological torture on people they interned.

He said he saw internees with bags placed over their heads and their hands tied behind their back, and said they were made to believe they were going to be pushed off a table and hung.

"It was to put the fear of God into them," he said.

"No one was pulling their fingernails off, no one was cutting them, no one was putting bruises on them.

"No one was taking teeth out with pliers, it was slight physical but nothing'torture, torture'."

Questioned by counsel for Coroner Siobhan Keegan about inconsistencies between accounts he gave in a book he wrote about his Army service and videos he posted on YouTube, Mr Mumford told the inquest that after he wrote his book one of his notepads was "stolen by a frog" in Tahiti.

The inquest continues.

  • Sarah Clarke reports: