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Ballymurphy families call for independent review into killings

Trouble_1
The number of British Army personnel in the North reached its peak of 30,000 in the mid-1970s

THE FAMILIES of 10 people shot dead by the British army in West Belfast during the Troubles have called for an independent panel to review the killings.

Relatives of the victims of 1971’s Ballymurphy killings outlined their proposals for a new investigation this week.

The call followed a damning assessment by Britain’s police watchdog on how the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigates military killings.

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Under their plans, former police ombudsman for the North Nuala O’Loan would chair a seven-strong panel examining all documentary evidence relating to the deaths.

The panel would also include Professor Phil Scraton, a leading member of the independent Hillsborough report into the deaths of 96 football fans in 1989, and Gareth Peirce, the lawyer who helped free the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six.

The announcement comes a week after Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that the HET’s approach to reviewing Troubles killings with state involvement is fundamentally flawed and risks undermining the confidence of victims’ families.

A total of 11 people died when British paratroopers opened fire in Ballymurphy, 10 of whom were shot dead and one of whom suffered a heart attack during the incident.

A Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight were among the dead

Members of the regiment involved, which was undertaking an operation to arrest suspected paramilitary members at the time, have claimed that they opened fire after being shot at by republicans.

The families of the victims said this week that they have gathered “strong evidence” that the killings breached their relatives’ right to life, as enshrined in Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

“The case raises serious questions regarding human rights abuses committed by the British Army and of a culture of impunity in the north of Ireland in which members of the security forces routinely were above the law,” they added in a statement.

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Niall O Sullivan
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Niall O’Sullivan is a reporter at The Irish Post. You can follow him on @Niall_IrishPost on Twitter

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