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Bloody Sunday Families Back Ballymurphy Families

20 September, 2010 - by Pat Sheehan

Sinn Féin President and west Belfast MP Gerry Adams this morning hosted a press conference at which John Kelly of the Bloody Sunday families formally launched a new leaflet for the Ballymurphy Massacre families.

Gerry Adams said:

I want to welcome the Ballymurphy families here this morning.

I also want to welcome four of the Bloody Sunday relatives who are here in solidarity with the Ballymurphy families and to launch this new Ballymurphy Massacre leaflet – Time for Our Truth’.

The leaflet outlines the detail of the events surrounding the killing of eleven people - ten men, including a local priest and a mother of eight children - in the 36 hours after the introduction of internment in August 1971.
All of those killed were shot by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment.

Six months later the Parachute Regiment killed 14 people in Derry and six months after Bloody Sunday 5 people were killed in Springhill, including a second Catholic priest.

The accounts of how the 11 died in Ballymurphy bears a striking similarity to the stories told by the Bloody Sunday families.

The families have carried out substantial inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones.

They believe that not all of the facts pertaining to the shootings were made known or that the killings properly investigated the killings.

They also have concerns about the inquests that were carried out.

In July the Catholic Church released archive documents surrounding the events in Ballymurphy in August 1971.

This included new eyewitness accounts which lend support to the families opinion that vital evidence was withheld.

The demand of the families is very clear. They want truth.

The families are campaigning for an independent international investigation into the circumstances of the 11 deaths and a statement of innocence and apology from the British government.

Briege Voyle spoke for the Ballymurphy families. She outlined some of the detail that is contained in the new leaflet.

John Kelly spoke for the Bloody Sunday families. He said:

“I can still clearly remember the first time I met this group. I was asked to speak at an event in St. Mary’s Hall, but after listening to the heartbreaking stories I was completely overcome by what I heard.

What I heard were stories of blatant murder and terrible brutality conducted by the Parachute Regiment, the same regiment who were responsible for the same murderous brutality carried out in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

The Ballymurphy massacre happened six months before Bloody Sunday. It and many other murders by the British Army around that time, helped set the precedent that British soldiers were immune from prosecution and knew that they could, would and did get away with murder. We know that the agencies of the British state, from the government down through the prosecution services, helped to promote and encourage this culture of immunity.

Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday stand side by side in history as massacres carried out by the British Army. I can tell you that after the Saville report they will not get away with murdering our loved ones and they hopefully be brought to justice at long last.

We have achieved some justice with the publication of the Saville Report, and we hope that the families here can get the same. The Bloody Sunday families will always be there to support the Ballymurphy families, and all the other victims that cry out for truth and justice.

With that, I am pleased to launch the Ballymurphy leaflet. Hopefully it will travel the world, educating and making people aware of the type of atrocities and war crimes carried out by the British Army against innocent Irish people. Hopefully it will be part of these families getting the truth and justice they deserve.

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