“Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son... truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long... but at the length truth will out”
Launcelot, the Merchant of Venice
THE truth is out. What the families knew, what their community supported them to say, what some politicians were persuaded to agree with, what the rest of us were committed to saying with them – the dead of the Ballymurphy Massacre were unjustifiably killed by the British army. The British army covered it up. The British army told lies. The families were treated with contempt. But that is the past. Today the truth is out.
Father Hugh Mullan and Frank Quinn were shot dead going to aid Bobby Clarke, lying critically hurt in the field beside Springfield Park. Heroes to their families and to their community.
Noel Philips, Joan Connolly, Danny Teggart and Joseph Murphy were guilty of nothing when gunned down, and the use of lethal force was unjustified.
When Joan Connolly lay injured she was abused instead of assisted, assistance that may have made a difference as she cried for help with her face blown off by gunfire.
Ballymurphy wasn’t a ‘situation’.— John Finucane MP (@johnfinucane) May 14, 2021
It was a massacre. https://t.co/adVLbVi849
Soldiers asked medics to plant bullets on Danny Teggart’s body to try to justify his killing. Joseph Murphy and the other injured were gloated over instead of assisted inside the Henry Taggart Memorial Hall.
Eddie Doherty’s killer told lie after lie about killing this young inoffensive father of four, who was doing nothing wrong. John Laverty and Joe Corr were shot in the back as they sought shelter from an attack by the Parachute Regiment.
That Christmas the Laverty home sat in quiet while one son lay buried and another was in prison for false charges after violent treatment by soldiers on that same night that would alter his life forever.
John McKerr’s body was treated with such contempt by the authorities that no investigation whatsoever took place, not even the bullets recovered from his body were preserved or tested.
At the heart of the Ballymurphy campaign were bereaved children and siblings who refused to accept the lack of investigations into the killings of their loved ones, refused to accept the lies that were spread about them, refused to accept the silence that surrounded the horror, refused to succumb to the weight of trauma. Their vindication against every obstacle means there is no longer a lie hanging over Ballymurphy, the official narrative has been rectified.
The British government purposefully fought to hide the truth, but law has refused to shield them any longer. The families won the battle for the truth.
On the day of the Saville report into the killings on Bloody Sunday David Cameron said: “You do not defend the British army by defending the indefensible.
“We do not honour all those who have served... in Northern Ireland by hiding from the truth.”
What a stark contrast to his successor’s government this week. Having the Queen of England read a speech which may give impunity for the gravest and most egregious of violations while the world listened to the vindication of Ballymurphy Massacre families should make them blush. But truly they know no shame.
Justice must now flow for Ballymurphy, but that is tomorrow’s work.
Today we appreciate the magnitude of truth and give thanks to families who, despite such suffering, stand vindicated.