STRAGI DI BALLYMURPHY E LA MON, NESSUNA NUOVA INCHIESTA
Families of those murdered in the Ballymurphy Massacre say they are outraged after the British Government rejected calls for an independent investigation into the deaths in August 1971.
On Tuesday Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said she had taken time to consider the families’ proposal for an independent review panel after meeting with them and hearing their stories of loss.
“In my view, the balance of public interest does not favour establishing an independent review,” she explained.
“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.
“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. That includes the ongoing Coroner’s inquests.”
A Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight were among the 10 people shot by paratroopers in the West Belfast area, while an 11th person died of a heart attack during the event.
The Army has claimed that its troops opened fire on the day in question after being shot at by republicans, as it acted to round up suspected paramilitaries after internment was introduced.
However, the families of those killed have always maintained their innocence.
Ms Villiers said she was willing to meet them again.
Notwithstanding this setback, I hope that it will still be possible to find a way for the families to get the truth and to vindicate fully the good names of their loved ones.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Previous calls for an independent investigation have been refused by the Secretary of State.
The NIO statement said an additional review would cut across the ongoing legal process of fresh inquests which have been opened by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.
It added that should the inquests reveal indications of criminal activity, “it would be a matter for the PSNI and independent prosecuting authorities to judge whether prosecutions should be pursued.”
Solicitor Padraig O’Muirigh said the families are considering a judicial review proceedings against the decision.
He said: “In my view, this panel would complement that process. We’ve seen, if you compare this to Hillsborough, those families had an independent panel, and now have an inquest and it clearly wasn’t seen as something that would impede those inquests.”
Mr O’Muirigh said the families would continue with their campaign for an independent panel as they do not have confidence in any future HET investigations.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who has met the families and supports the call for a review, expressed disappointment.
“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.”
The NIO also stated that the Secretary of State had also informed families affected by the La Mon House bombing that she had decided not to initiate a de Silva type review into the case.
Twelve Protestant people, including a RUC reservist, were killed in the IRA bombing of a hotel in the countryside outside Belfast in February 1978.
“I understand that this is not the decision they were hoping for, but I do not believe that an independent review would reveal new evidence or reach a different conclusion from the investigations that have already taken place,” Ms Villiers said.
The families of those who died in the La Mon house hotel bombing by the IRA in 1978 have been told they will not be granted an independent review into the atrocity.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers wrote to families on Monday telling them she would not be ordering a probe as she did not feel it would “reveal new evidence or reach a different conclusion from the investigations that have already taken place”.
East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland said the decision was a devastating one for victims.
Ms Villers, who on Tuesday also announced there would be no independent review into the Ballymurphy killings, said she was aware there would be disappointment at the news.
“After consultation and careful consideration, I have decided not to initiate a de Silva type review into the La Mon House bombing,” said Ms Villiers. “I have written to the families advising them of my decision.
“I understand that this is not the decision they were hoping for, but I do not believe that an independent review would reveal new evidence or reach a different conclusion from the investigations that have already taken place.
“I was very moved by my meeting with the families and I know that no matter how much time passes, the pain experienced by the victims of this shocking atrocity remains. I continue to offer my sincerest sympathy to the families for the loss of their loved ones and the injury they have suffered.”
Mr Copeland said anyone with information on the bombing should not be allowed to stay silent on the matter.
“When I met with the Secretary of State last year along with families affected by La Mon, we spoke of our disappointment at the lack of new information contained in the HET report into the bombing. Today’s decision will only serve to frustrate the victims who have had great patience in their wait for the truth of La Mon.
“There are people out there who know what happened that day, know why it happened and know who gave the orders for it to happen. It is disturbing that they continue to keep the families in the dark.
“Today will be hurtful for those families of the innocent people who were so disgracefully and unforgivably targeted on 17 February 1978. I will continue to help and support them in their fight for truth.”