Northern Ireland

Call for independent panel to review Ballymurphy killings

Ballymurphy in 1971
Image caption Soldiers clearing up in the aftermath of the Ballymurphy killings

The families of 11 people killed by the Army in west Belfast more than 40 years ago have called for an independent panel to investigate the deaths.

The proposed panel would be chaired by former police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

They want the panel to examine all documents and papers relating to the deaths.

Eleven people were killed during an Army operation in Ballymurphy in August 1971 to arrest people suspected of paramilitary activity.

The seven-strong panel would also include Prof Phil Scraton, author of the independent Hillsborough report into the deaths of 96 football fans in 1989, and civil rights lawyer Gareth Pierce.

The relatives said the panel should report within 12-18 months, and should be funded by the British and Irish governments.

Its work would reflect the terms of reference of the government-funded Hillsborough Independent Panel.


In a statement the families said "they have amassed strong evidence that all who died were killed unlawfully and in breach of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

"The case raises serious questions regarding human rights abuses committed by the British Army and of a culture of impunity in the north of Ireland in which members of the security forces routinely were above the law."

The families have criticised the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) investigation into the killings at the time.

They have also expressed no confidence into the review of the deaths currently being conducted by the Historical Enquires team (HET).

Members of the Parachute Regiment claimed they opened fire after being shot at by republicans during Operation Demetrius in 1971.

A Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight were among those killed.

After an application from the families the attorney general directed the coroner to re-open inquests into the deaths in November 2011.