On 9th of August 1971, Interment Without Trial was introduced by the British Government in the North of Ireland. This policy was implemented by the British Army at 4am on that particular summer morning. The British Army directed the campaign against the predominately Catholic community with the stated aim to “shock and stun the civilian population”.
Between 9th and 11th of August 1971, over 600 British soldiers entered the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast, raiding homes and rounding up men. Many, both young and old, were shot and beaten as they were dragged from their homes without reason. During this 3 day period 11 people were brutally murdered.
All 11 unarmed civilians were murdered by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment. One of the victims was a well-known parish priest and another was a 45-year-old mother of eight children. No investigations were carried out and no member of the British Army was held to account.
It is believed that some of the soldiers involved in Ballymurphy went on to Derry some months later where similar events occurred. Had those involved in Ballymurphy been held to account, the events of Bloody Sunday may not have happened.
The terrible events which took place in Ballymurphy in 1971 have for too long remained in the shadows. The families of those murdered, have kept the spotlight on how 11 innocent people met their deaths over a three-day period 46 years ago.
In January 2018, the coroner’s office announced that the inquest would begin in September 2018. On 11 May 2021, this coroner’s inquest found that the 10 civilians killed were innocent, and that the use of lethal force by the British Army was “not justified”. The circumstances of the 11th death were not part of the inquest, since Paddy McCarthy died from a heart attack, allegedly after being threatened by a soldier Following the inquest verdict, Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, apologised for the deaths at Ballymurphy in a phone call to first minister Arlene Foster and deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill. The lack of public apology was criticised by some relatives of the victims and N.I. politicians.
In May 2021 families of those shot dead by British soldiers in Ballymurphy urged the Irish government to oppose any attempt to prevent the prosecution of British soldiers alleged to have committed crimes during the Troubles.
Six civilians were shot on 9 August, these were:
Francis Quinn (19), shot by a sniper (who had taken position at the nearby army base) while going to the aid of a wounded man.
Hugh Mullan (38), a Catholic priest, shot by a sniper while going to the aid of a wounded man.
Joan Connolly (50), shot as she stood opposite the army base.
Daniel Teggart (44), was shot fourteen times. Most of the bullets allegedly entered his back as he lay injured on the ground.
Noel Phillips (20), shot as he stood opposite the army base.
Joseph Murphy (41), shot as he stood opposite the army base.
One civilian was shot on 10 August, and another four were shot on 11 August, these were:
Edward Doherty (28), shot while walking along Whiterock Road.
John Laverty (20) and Joseph Corr (43) were shot at separate points at the Top of the Whiterock Road. Laverty was shot twice, once in the back and once in the back of the leg. Corr was shot multiple times and died of his injuries on 27 August.
John McKerr (49), shot by unknown attackers while standing outside the Roman Catholic church, died of his injuries on 20 August.
Paddy McCarthy (44) got into a confrontation with a group of soldiers. One of them put an empty gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. McCarthy suffered a heart-attack and died shortly thereafter