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Family of Harry Thornton entitled to truth and justice - Murphy

20 January, 2015 - by Conor Murphy


Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said the failure of the British Ministry of Defence to track down three soldiers holding vital information about the killing of south Armagh man Harry Thornton in 1971 was another example of its determination to deny families of state violence truth and justice. 

The Newry Armagh MP said:

"Harry Thornton, a 28-year-old married man from Crossmaglen, was shot dead by a British paratrooper while driving past the Springfield Road RUC barracks in west Belfast in August 1971.

“Harry Thornton was an unarmed civilian and despite British army claims that two shots had been fired at them from the vehicle no weapons were found in the van.

“An eyewitness stated they had seen Mr Thornton being shot in the throat by an British army marksman leaning out of a window above the barracks. 

“His passenger was dragged from the vehicle and brought to the barracks where he was severely beaten before being released without charge a few hours later.

"The British government must be compelled to honour its obligations on dealing with the past. It has consistently denied truth and justice to relatives of victims of state violence.

“In recent times, we have witnessed families being denied an inquiry into the Ballymurphy Massacre and the inaction of the PSNI to investigate the actions of the Military Reaction Force. 

“Families have called for a public inquiry into the deaths of 18 people at the hands of loyalists in Mid Ulster and into the PSNI refusal to co-operate with the Gerard Lawlor inquest. 

“The British government continues to refuse to honour its commitment to hold an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and documents have been destroyed relating to shoot-to-kill deaths just weeks before an inquest was due to begin. Now we have this failure to provide information at the inquest of Harry Thornton.

"This is yet another example of cabinet ministers in London showing utter disregard for the families in favour of protecting their own interests. It also exposes once again the lie that the British state was not a key participant in the conflict.

"It is clear the British Government fears the truth. Families such as the Thornton family have waited long enough for truth and justice. This latest obstruction by the British government adds to their ordeal. Sinn Féin will continue to support them and all families in their quest for truth and justice.”

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