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Inquests a step on long road to justice for Ballymurphy families

13 August, 2017 - by Paul Maskey


West Belfast MP Paul Maskey told the March for Truth rally organised by the relatives of the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre that Sinn Féin will continue to stand by the families and all those victims of state violence who are campaigning for truth. 

Paul Maskey said:

“Despite numerous reports highlighting the extent of collusion between British state forces and loyalist murder gangs, the British are attempting to deny the truth that everyone knows.

“The frustration at continued cover-up by the British state recently found expression in the High Courts.

“Justice Stephens called on the PSNI to provide information to the courts in compliance with court orders after years of delaying tactics. 

“And Justice Treacy recently called for an overarching inquiry into the activities of the infamous Glenanne Gang, which included members of the UDR and RUC and which murdered around 130 people, including the Dublin Monaghan bombings which claimed 33 lives in 1974.

“The British government has abjectly failed to deal with the legacy of the past and the role of its forces and agents in numerous murders of citizens. 

“Time and again we have seen this from Ballymurphy to Loughinisland to Springhill. 

“But we will not let them rewrite history. Sinn Féin is committed to standing by relatives of victims of state violence and ensuring the mechanisms on dealing with the past in the Stormont House and other agreements are implemented fully. 

“The refusal to implement these agreements is unacceptable. 

“The British government's attitude has emboldened the DUP to refuse to implement these agreements, adding to the hurt and suffering of families, many of whom, like the Ballymurphy families, have been waiting more than four decades for the truth about what happened to their loved ones. 

“That wait is not acceptable and unfortunately many people have gone to their graves waiting for the truth. 

“Next month the full inquests will begin into the Ballymurphy massacre will begin as a result of the unflagging determination of the families. 

“Hopefully this will be a step further on the long road to justice. 

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand by the Ballymurphy families and all those victims of state violence who are campaigning for truth.” ENDS/CRÍOCH 

Full text of Paul Maskey’s speech to the Ballymurphy March for Truth Sunday 13 August 2017

"It's an honour and a privilege to be asked to give this talk tonight in support of the Ballymurphy families in their long campaign for truth and justice. 

I'd like to commend the families for the dignified way in which they have conducted their campaign over many years, despite the many challenges they have faced and the hurt and grief they are still experiencing at the loss of their loved ones. 

It's been 46 years since eleven innocent people were murdered by the British parachute regiment in Ballymurphy but the passage of time has not diminished the hurt felt by the families at this horrendous outrage, which has been made all the worse by the British government's refusal to address it. 

Sinn Féin has been standing with the families for many years, assisting them in their campaign for justice and challenging the British government on their behalf. 

I have travelled with the families to Westminster to directly challenge the British government, I have been with them at Downing Street and at the British Ministry of Defence and in Dublin when we were putting pressure on the Irish government to challenge the British to fulfil their obligations to the Ballymurphy families. 

I have lobbied British Labour MPs on behalf of the families and brought a number over to visit Ballymurphy to see at first hand where the massacre was carried out. 

Earlier this year I travelled to London with the families when they served letters on British Prime Minister Theresa May and the British Ministry of Defence. 

For 46 years the British establishment has let down the Ballymurphy families and tried to brush what happened under the carpet. 

They want it to go away and be forgotten about. But we will never forget the eleven people brutally murdered in Ballymurphy in 1971. We will continue to stand by the families and campaign with them until they get the truth and justice they deserve. 

The families have received support from all over the world as a result of their tireless campaigning, which has brought them to Brussels, Washington, London, and Dublin. 

For many years they campaigned alongside the Bloody Sunday families as they too challenged the British government over the massacre carried out by the same parachute regiment, which left 14 people dead on the streets of the Bogside. 

They watched as the Bloody Sunday families got the long awaited inquiry they deserved in the hope that they too would get the same access to the truth about the killings of their loved ones. 

They celebrated with the Bloody Sunday families when the findings of the Saville Inquiry were published and still stand with the families as they continue their campaign, just as the Bloody Sunday families have stood with the people of Ballymurphy. 

But, unlike Bloody Sunday, the British government is refusing to address what its forces did in Ballymurphy. 

Earlier this year the families challenged British secretary of state James Brokenshire over his government's failures and they refused to accept his blandishments and walked out of the meeting, showing him they will not be walked over by the British government. 

The treatment of the Ballymurphy families is typical of the British government's approach to dealing with the legacy of the past. 

It is trying to ignore the past and is actively trying to frustrate the efforts of families like the Ballymurphy families, and many other victims of state violence. 

Despite numerous reports highlighting the extent of collusion between British state forces and loyalist murder gangs, the British are attempting to deny the truth that everyone knows.

The frustration at continued cover-up recently found expression in the High Courts.

Justice Stephens called on the PSNI to provide information to the courts in compliance with court orders after years of delaying tactics.

And Justice Treacy recently called for an overarching inquiry into the activities of the infamous Glenanne Gang, which included members of the UDR and RUC and which murdered around 130 people, including the Dublin Monaghan bombings which claimed 33 lives in 1974.

The British government has abjectly failed to deal with the legacy of the past and the role of its forces and agents in numerous murders of citizens. 

Time and again we have seen this from Ballymurphy to Loughinisland to Springhill. 

But we will not let them rewrite history. Sinn Féin is committed to standing by relatives of victims of state violence and ensuring the mechanisms on dealing with the past in the Stormont House and other agreements are implemented fully. 

The refusal to implement these agreements is unacceptable. 

The British government's attitude has emboldened the DUP to refuse to implement these agreements, adding to the hurt and suffering of families, many of whom, like the Ballymurphy families, have been waiting more than four decades for the truth about what happened to their loved ones. 

That wait is not acceptable and unfortunately many people have gone to their graves waiting for the truth. 

It is long past the time the British government ended its policy of frustrating the families and revealed the truth. 

Next month the full inquests will begin into the Ballymurphy massacre will begin as a result of the unflagging determination of the families. 

Hopefully this will be a step further on the long road to justice. 

Sinn Féin will continue to stand by the Ballymurphy families and all those victims of state violence who are campaigning for truth. 

Each year that passes adds insult to the injury the Ballymurphy families suffered. But I want to reassure the families that they have our continuing support and will have as they continue their campaign." 

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