The families of those killed at Ballymurphy “should never have had to experience the grief and trauma of that loss”, the Northern Ireland secretary says
The UK government has said that it is “truly sorry” for the events at Ballymurphy in Northern Ireland in 1971 , when 10 innocent people were killed during the Troubles.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has made the apology in the Commons, telling MPs that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be writing personally to the families of the victims.
“The events of Ballymurphy should never have happened, the families of those who were killed should never have had to experience the grief and trauma of that loss,” Mr Lewis said.
This comes after ten people who were shot dead at Ballymurphy, in west Belfast, back in 1971 were innocent, and they were killed without justification, a coroner in the inquest has now ruled.
“They should have not had to wait almost five decades for judgement this week, nor been compelled to relive that terrible time in August 1971 again and again in their long and distressing quest for the truth.”
It comes after the Ballymurphy inquiry coroner on Tuesday concluded that the victims of shootings over three days in Belfast in August of 1971 were “entirely innocent” and that the British Army had been responsible for nine of the ten fatal shootings.
Mrs Justice Keegan found that the use of lethal force by British soldiers was entirely unjustified.
She also criticised that the lack of investigation into the 10th Ballymurphy death, that of John McKerr, and said that there was not enough evidence to rule who had shot him.
Mr Lewis added in his statement to MPs: “The vast majority of those who served in Northern Ireland did so with great dignity and professionalism, but it is clear that in some cases, the security forces and the Army made terrible errors too.”
Downing Street said that Boris Johnson “apologised unreservedly on behalf of the UK government for the events that took place in Ballymurphy” during a phone call with the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, and deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill on Wednesday.
This comes after Israeli air strikes have killed a string of senior Hamas military figures and pounded three multi-storey buildings in the Gaza Strip as militants launched barrages of rockets during another night of escalating violence.
A Downing Street spokesperson said that the prime minister had described the conclusions of the Ballymurphy Inquest into the “tragic” events as “deeply sad”.
But the Prime Minister has been accused of “bad manners” and of neglecting to be “serious” by not offering a more formal apology from the UK.
John Teggart, whose father Daniel was among the ten who were shot dead at Ballymurphy, said that he had received no approach from the office of the prime minister.
“There was an apology done but in a way, it’s bad manners,” he said. “He didn’t approach any of the victims’ families and he didn’t keep the families up to date on the proceedings.