Echoing the tireless campaign waged by Derry’s own Bloody Sunday families, Belfast’s Ballymurphy families travelled to Downing Street this week to deliver a petition calling for an independent inquiry into the 1971 massacre.
SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan joined relatives of the 11 people shot dead by paratroopers in west Belfast in 1971, just months before Bloody Sunday.
Last year, Mr Durkan also brought a debate on the Ballymurphy atrocity to Westminster in order to promote the families’ campaign for a new independent investigation into the deaths.
“Just like the Bloody Sunday campaign, the terrible loss of life, the innocence of those killed and the denial of truth makes the Ballymurphy campaign a very important one,” Mr Durkan said yesterday.
“This campaign deserves to attract the support and attention of everyone. All of those shot in Ballymurphy were killed by members of the Parachute Regiment who just six months later murdered innocent people in Derry on Bloody Sunday.”
Mr Durkan says that the victims’ families deserve redress and compassion and the innocence of their loved ones vindicated.
“The SDLP fully support the Ballymurphy families’ proposals for an independent international investigation and an acknowledgement of the enormity of the events in Ballymurphy in a concentrated operation by paratroopers over three terrible days in August 1971. I do not think it’s too much to ask,” he added.
Over 36 hours between August 9-11 in 1971 the Parachute Regiment shot dead 11 innocent civilians in the west Belfast housing estate.
Among those murdered were a local priest and a 45 year-old mother of eight.
The parallels with Bloody Sunday are hugely significant, including the fact that some of those murdered were clearly fleeing the scene or going to the aid of someone else when they were gunned down. In the hours after the massacre, the soldiers involved falsely claimed that they had been fired upon first and acted in self-defence.
Following the publication of the Saville Report into Bloody Sunday, the Ballymurphy relatives strengthened their demands for an international investigation to officially determine whether the same soldiers were involved in the massacre of their loved ones just months earlier.
To support their campaign, visit www.ballymurphymassacre.com