Northern Ireland

UVF to admit killing some of the Ballymurphy victims

Ballymurphy, August 1971 Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The shootings took place hours after the government introduced a policy of internment

It's understood that the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is to provide information to the Ballymurphy killings inquest claiming it was responsible for some of the shootings.

Members of the Parachute Regiment have always been held responsible for civilian deaths during three days of gunfire involving soldiers in a west Belfast neighbourhood in August 1971.

But "veterans" within the loyalist paramilitary organisation have identified a UVF sniper they say carried out a number of the shootings.

With an inquest scheduled to start in September, the information is to be provided to the Coroners Service within days.

One of those aware of the process described it as an attempt to shed some light on one of the most chaotic and notorious series of killings during the Troubles.

The shootings occurred amid disturbances sparked by the introduction of internment without trial in Northern Ireland.

Image caption Information has been provided on the weapon allegedly used by the UVF sniper

Ten people were shot dead, including a priest trying to aid one of the wounded and a mother-of-eight. Another man later died of heart failure.

Bereaved families have come to refer to the killings as the Ballymurphy massacre.

In a potentially major development, loyalists who were active at the time have come forward with the new allegations.

They approached an interlocutor to claim a UVF sniper located in the neighbouring Springmartin estate opened fire into Ballymurphy.

It is understood these paramilitary veterans have provided the gunman's name, alleging he was responsible for a number of the deaths.

Image caption Ten people were shot dead in west Belfast in the three days after internment was introduced in 1971, in what the bereaved families refer to as the Ballymurphy Massacre

Information has also been supplied on the rifle allegedly used, along with its subsequent seizure by the authorities.

"These men are adamant that if ballistic tests are carried out on the weapon it will establish that the UVF sniper did cause casualties, possibly fatal," the source said.

The interlocutor has now contacted a Belfast solicitor to discuss how the information is supplied to the Coroners Service.

Billy Hutchinson, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, which has links to the UVF, claimed it was a significant move which could help provide clarity around what happened at Ballymurphy.

The Belfast councillor added: "The IRA should reciprocate and declare what, if anything, it knows about the events over those days."

Pádraig Ó Muirigh, a lawyer who represents a number of families bereaved in the Ballymurphy shootings, said: "Any new evidence relating to this inquest should be brought to the attention of the coroner as a matter of urgency, and in due course we will review this evidence in preparation for the inquest."

Image caption Pat Quinn said he felt 'numbed' by the claims

Pat Quinn, whose bother Frank was one of the victims, said he was feeling "numbed" and he found the UVF claim "dubious".

"Is it dirty tricks, or a publicity stunt or what?" he said.

"It seems to be muddying the waters," Mr Quinn added.

John Joseph Teggart, whose father Danny was killed in Ballymurphy said he was "sceptical about the story".

"Questions need to be asked about the motivation," he said.

Related Topics

More on this story