Politicians react to Ballymurphy inquest findings

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said victims and their families "have been vindicated".

Politicians in Northern Ireland and in the Republic have reacted to inquest findings into 10 people who were killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre in west Belfast in 1971.

On Tuesday, a coroner ruled all 10 victims were “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing” and use of force by the Army was “unjustified”.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill tweeted: "The victims and the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre have been vindicated and the truth laid bare. This was British state murder."

First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted: "This has been a long road for the Ballymurphy families. 50 years later, the court has considered the evidence and the findings should be accepted. I commend the families for their tenacity.

"Lots of lessons to be learned. Grief is grief. Justice must be blind. Too many empty chairs across NI and unanswered questions."

Sinn Fein's North Belfast MP John Finucane posted: "INNOCENT! For 50 years they never gave up.

"Today the Ballymurphy families heard what they always knew - Their loved ones, murdered by the British state, were entirely innocent. Today the truth won."

Alliance leader and Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long tweeted: "The Ballymurphy families have had battle too hard and too long to finally hear that truth at today's inquest ruling into their loved ones' deaths.

"They have carried themselves with courage and fortitude throughout the last 50 years. This is vindication of their fight."

Meanwhile, the Irish Foreign Minister said every family bereaved during the Troubles must have access to effective investigations and a process of justice.

Simon Coveney said the findings of the Ballymurphy inquests will come as "an immense relief and vindication for the families who have maintained for decades that their loved ones were innocent and their killings unjustified."

He added: "All victims' families deserve support in securing all the information possible about what happened to their loved ones.

"Only through a collective approach can we hope to deal with these issues comprehensively and fairly, and in a way that responds to the needs of victims and survivors, and society as a whole."

Irish premier Micheal Martin has said he was never in any doubt that the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre were innocent.

He told the Dail: "Our first thoughts today are with the families of those killed following that terrible violence and atrocities in Ballymurphy on those three terrible days in August 1971.

"I do recall visiting the site at the time and meeting with the relatives. I was in never in any doubt that these innocent citizens were killed without any justification and that they were entirely innocent. The inquest has found that."

He added: "It's been a very harrowing experience for many, many relatives. There have been many false dawns in terms of trying to get closure or trying to get justice in relation to this."