Ballymurphy inquest has given other families hope, says son of victim

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John Teggart Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Ballymurphy inquest has given other campaigners hope, the son of one of the 11 people killed in the 1971 shootings has said.

John Teggart was speaking as the Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement visited the area in west Belfast.

The committee is comprised of MPs from Northern Ireland as well as TDs and Senators from the Irish Republic.

The delegation, including West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, North Belfast MP John Finucane, South Belfast MP Claire Hanna and North Down MP Stephen Farry, met with families of some of the Ballymurphy victims.

Members of the committee visited Ballymurphy on Thursday Credit: Rebecca Black/PA

Earlier this year, a fresh inquest concluded the 11 had been killed by the British Army and that they were all innocent victims.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson 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.

Addressing the committee members at Corpus Christi Youth Club, Mr Teggart said it had been a “hard, long fight”.

But he said it has given other families seeking justice hope, as he condemned UK Government’s proposals to end inquiries into the past as a “disgrace”.

The Government plans to legislate this year on plans for a statute of limitations which would end all prosecutions for Troubles incidents up to April 1998 – and would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.

“Other campaigners told us that the Ballymurphy inquest and the outcome that all were entirely innocent gave them hope that it can be done,” Mr Teggart said.

John Teggart’s father Daniel was among those killed in the series of shootings between August 9 and 11, 1971 Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

“It was a hard, long fight, 50 years of a campaign, but it can be done.

“The legal system is independent and it is one of the mechanisms that is working, that’s why the British Government want to close it down, because they have no control over it. They want to close all these legal avenues.

“Everybody is totally opposed to these proposals, all the political parties in the whole of Ireland. We need to shout as loud as we can.

“The fight is everyone together, bar the Tories, and that’s what we need to continue.”

After the meeting, the committee members visited the spot where a 12th person, Paddy McCarthy, died of a heart attack in August 1971. His death was not included in the inquest.

Members of the committee were said to have been ‘deeply moved’ by the visit Credit: Rebecca Black/PA

Committee chair Fergus O’Dowd pledged to support the Ballymurphy families in their continuing battle for justice.

He told the PA news agency the committee members had been “deeply moved” by their visit to the area.

“There were 13 of us here, we listened extremely carefully to the families to hear the trauma and upset that is still clearly there and support fully their fight for justice and accountability and also for closure,” he said.

“We will all now go back to our parliaments, to our political parties and in the Oireachtas we will go forward together with a joint motion hopefully to make sure that no stone is left unturned to win the battle on behalf of the family for truth and justice after so many years.

“It has been a very moving visit and we were all deeply moved. I know it is hard on families to go through the trauma they have suffered. It’s clear it is very raw after 50 years, the injustice, the pain, the hurt, the suffering is clearly there and we can feel it.

“They’re very strong, 50 years and still fighting, and they’re right and we will back them 100% and put pressure on all the parliaments and people that we can to get justice and truth.”

The committee members were also due to tour the Wave Trauma Centre during their visit to Belfast.