Families 'shocked'' after Teresa Villiers rejects call to set up panel to probe 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre

Families ‘shocked” after Teresa Villiers rejects call to set up panel to probe 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre

THE Secretary of State has dismissed a call for an independent panel to examine the deaths of 11 people who were shot dead by members of the Parachute Regiment in Belfast in August 1971.

Teresa Villiers had been under pressure from families of 10 people shot dead by the parachute regiment in Ballymurphy in August that year, had been pressing Teresa Villiers on the issue.

An 11th person died of a heart attack after allegedly confronting soldiers.

Ms Villiers said the balance of public interest “does not favour establishing an independent review”.

“I do not believe that such a review would provide answers which are not already in the public domain or covered by existing legal processes,” she said.

“In reaching this decision, I have sought to balance the strong and clear views of the families with the need to ensure that existing legal mechanisms can continue to carry out their functions without being impeded by an additional process.”

The Ballymurphy families said they were “shocked and outraged” at the government’s response.

In a statement, the families said: “We have led our campaign for truth and justice in a dignified but determined manner and deserve the opportunity to have the innocence of our loved ones proven,” they said.

“We feel that the Conservative-led British government is treating us in a disrespectful and shameful manner.

“We have demonstrated flexibility in that our proposed approach is not a ‘costly and lengthy public inquiry’. It is a tried, tested and cost effective model.”

The families said that they may legally challenge Ms Villier’s decision.

The families wanted a seven-member panel to examine all documents and papers similar to one that examined the 1989 Hillsborough disaster which 96 Liverpool FC football fans died.

They wanted it to be modelled on the one that examined the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Then, 96 people lost their lives during Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

They proposed that it would be chaired by former Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan and funded by the British and Irish governments.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was “disappointed” that Ms Villiers had turned down their request.

“I told the families that the government supported their case, and that I intend to visit Ballymurphy and meet with the families there during a future visit to Belfast,” he said.

“Following our meeting in January, I wrote to Prime Minister Cameron asking that the families request for a limited review be granted. I also raised the matter with him at our meeting in London on 11 March.

“Consequently, I am disappointed with today’s news, which I know will come as a blow to the families,” he added.


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