Monday, November 1, 2010

Ballymurphy Massacre Families seek new Inquests




Press Conference by Ballymurphy Families about submission to Attorney General

On Friday morning this blog travelled down to Belfast City centre for a brief meeting with the Attorney General. My purpose was to hand over to him two large folders containing information gathered by the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre which are the bulk of a submission being made to the Attorney General asking him to hold new inquests into the deaths of their loved ones.

The Ballymurphy Massacre happened 40 years ago next year. As regular readers will know in the 36 hours after the introduction of internment in August 1971 eleven people - ten men, including a local priest and a mother of eight children - were killed by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment in the Ballymurphy area.

The accounts of how the 11 died bears a striking similarity to the stories told by the Bloody Sunday families.

On Friday evening one local television news channel carried old black and white footage of the Henry Taggart British Army base on the Springfield Road which was at the centre of this massacre. The TV images showed heavily armed British troops rushing from the base and running across the road into Ballymurphy.

For those watching these images at home it must have seemed like something from the History Channel. But for the families of those killed the pain and grief, and desire for truth, is as if it was yesterday.

That is true for all of those hurt or bereaved during the war.

The families believe that the RUC or British Army’s Military Police did not properly investigate the killings. They also have grave concerns about the inquests that were carried out at that time. They believe that these inquests did not receive the facts of these events.

However, there have been significant changes to the inquest system. Inquests must now meet the international human rights standards for independence, effectiveness and promptness. Any new inquest would also present a chance for the families to fully participate.

The change to the inquest system, which demands that inquests must be Article 2 (European Convention on Human Rights) compliant occurred after 2002 when several families successfully brought their cause to Europe.

The European Court of Human Rights found that the British government and its agencies had repeatedly violated Article 2.

The new rules mean the families are entitled to full legal representation, forensic and ballistic experts, and are entitled to seek disclosure of information still withheld by the British government from them about the murder of their loved ones.

The reason why this matter can be taken up with a local Attorney General is because of the successful negotiations earlier this year for the transfer of policing and justice powers back to Ireland.



The Ballymurphy families have now spent many years carrying out their own inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones.

All of this has been gathered into the submission to the Attorney General. It includes inquest verdicts, autopsy reports, inquest depositions and statements by Royal Military Police personnel, RUC reports from the date of incident, the Catholic Church archive documents handed over to the families in July, and a preliminary report into the circumstances of the deaths of the deceased.

In addition new eyewitness statements have been taken and these will be presented to the Attorney General in the next few weeks.

The submission requests that the Attorney General review all of the available material and under Section 14 of The Coroner’s Act 1959, he agrees to reopen the inquests on the 11 victims.

As an independent legal expert appointed by the First and deputy First Minister and answerable to the local Assembly, the Attorney General will have to form his own independent assessment of the validity of the case put by the families for reopening the inquests.

A decision by the Attorney General to hold new inquests will provide an opportunity for families to uncover more of the facts surrounding the events of August 1971.

The effort to secure new inquests and an apology and acknowledgement of innocence for their family members, is not an alternative to the demand for an International Independent Investigation into the Ballymurphy Massacre.

That remains the focus of the families’ efforts but they see the submission for new inquests as a stage along the road to this goal.

The Ballymurphy families have been campaigning for justice for many years. Their courage and determination in the face of significant opposition from the British system is astonishing and inspiring.

6 comments:

Timothy Dougherty said...

Hello Gerry, had to comment on the Ballymurphy families. Chum Glóire Dé agus Onóra na hÉireann- It seems that because of the upfront view and importance that our history of Bloody Sunday has become, the story of Ballymurphy is often overlooked. I been to Ballymurphy , I think it is also overlooked as a most wonderful places in all Ireland, of simple gentle hillsides village and mountain slopes. It seems that Ballymurphy is a so quit of a place, that such a Massacre could have happened ,but Happened it did. The words, like murdered or massacred somehow live in contrast. The real meaning of the words for Ballymurphy families are unlawful with intent or planned action. The families to are victims,as well. The courage and determination Ballymurphy families are inspiring. So right Gerry that you have held faith with the families of Ballymurphy, that is inspiring as well.

Retired said...

Interesting. I first argued that inquests are part of our Article 2 obligation in mid 1990s in a submission to ECHR re Matron Mary McGill Decd who died at the HQ Care Home of the Sue Ryder/Leonard Cheshire charity Suffolk January 1972 (one week before Bloody Sunday)

I repeated this in 2001 the summary of remedies sought citing a child death at Guys hospital 1995 and the murder of 11 Royal Marines by IRA at Deal Barracks 1989.

The fact is that Kent Police refused many crime complaints and failed to act on a 26 line of inquiry security warning re Deal Barracks. The security warning cited sabotage consistent with Stage 3 of the IRA Garland Plan (one of the 26 lines of inquiry Kent Police failed to pursue) citing Guys Hospital emergency backup generator installation as a saboteur target.

The late John Allen of Ramnsgate was a force in the creation of IPCC and the Article 2 inquest represented another element of holding agents of the state responsible for failing to protect life or taking life.

An article 2 inquest for the child who died in post op ICU at Guys in 95 would be welcome. (A three fault sequential failure of hospital power and then of emergency power cut power to life support) Certainly if the Coroner questions an engineer who had an associate who gained employ by deception with Reliance Security at Deal Barracks.

And an Article 2 inquest re the murder of 11 Royal Marines which would necessarily have to look back on the history of security warnings which started in 1981 with a report to MI5 by Brigadier Harvey concerning IRA supportive right wingers who had quasi official use of the Royal Marines base for paramilitary training.

With regard to the initial case, Matron McGill Decd 1972, I discovered that the charities (trustees Harry Sporborg and Airey Neave) were protected from proper police inquiry by a Special Branch secret monitor liaising with MI5 and even undermining police sudden death inquiries. I was the Pc HM Coroners Officer whose inquiries were undermined. And I discovered the Special Branch involvement evidence 17 years after resigning the police. (1989)

I have often wondered why Ireland shows no interest that Airey Neave was protected from proper police inquiry by MI5/Special Branch even when it involved his apprently altruistic charity activity.

Retired said...

Well I am surprised you published.

What I argued re Matron McGill Decd to ECHR in the 90s was that for UK to observe its Article 2 obligations the Right to Life could only exist where and when concurrently exists the certainty of proper sudden death inquiry.

I argued that the existence of a Special Branch monitor, undermining proper police sudden death inquiry and other inquiry, was a breach of Article 2 (denying rights to life obligated by Article 2 to all inmates of Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire Homes and their residential staff)

The cause was found inadmissible because Inquests are not appealable in ECHR. IE The Attorney General's use of his "Absolute secret public interest custodianship" could not be challenged in ECHR unless you can establish a case for non-judicial execution.

In 1971 the founding trustee of the Sue Ryder Homes, Airey Neave, was involved with Sue Ryder (the post war German internment official) in "Releasing" 1200 men from German postwar internment.

Basically the Regional Crime Squad in Wales came to suspect that people were entering UK and acquiring UK identities via manipulation of GP certified death documents in the care homes.

On that latter issue the Shipman Inquiry took advice and ruled the history beyond their terms of reference (the stage of the inquiry where they examined the history of all shortcomings in death registration and Coroners procedures).

The Regional Crime Squad sergeant died in 72 during further inquiry I think and attracted a suicide verdict. It is said that MI5 took the RCS case files. If they did so it appears they were back with Chief constable BURDEN's consent (Rosemary Nelson Inquiry BURDEN) in the 90s trawling what remained of the RCS Inquiry in force archives. In 94, by coincidence or otherwise, all Newport Gwent Births Marriages and Deaths Records were stolen from the Newport Registrar Office.

In Suffolk in 72 Matron McGill, a New Zealand Quaker volunteer working an incredible 143 duty hours per week to try to provide inmates some standard of care, formed suspicions at the HQ of the charity "Of the distance kept between the admin and so called care sides of the charity"

22nd Jan 1972 Matron McGill was reported drowned in the home's boating lake. An inquest was held, without the knowledge of family or friends, three days later within the Sue Ryder Home itself. The witnesses were all Sue Ryder staff who immediately resigned after inquest. Cremation occurred Feb 1st 1972 at Colchester with Sue Ryder representing herself as the deceased representative in UK. And only after the secret inquest (suicide verdict) and destruction of the body did the family find out that Mary McGill had drowned, that the inquest was over and the body destroyed preventing full autopsy.

The New Zealand Govt sought advice from the Home Office on how to re-open the inquest. Thanks to freedom of info in NZ I have copies of the Home Office responses. I can show govt involvement in the cover up but I don't have sufficient to argue non judicial execution without being able to establish that Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire were agents of the state.

Altruistically turning up with a care home in places like Moscow to "Care" for veterans of the Russian Afghan campaign just the sort of inmate in whom MI6 would have no interest at all ?

.

Retired said...

cont'd At risk of being called a conspiracy theorist (again !) it remains my view that the Matron McGill Decd case should be considered against the Bloody Sunday massacre seven days later.

I think such an examination conducted FULLY (even in the context of Article 2) would reveal the TECHNICAL strategic thinking and THREAT ASSESSMENT of Airey Neave.

My opinion, shared by no one else, is that Neave was terrified by Stage 3 of the IRA Garland Plan. And that no inquiry into Bloody Sunday could be complete until the strategic thinking of such as Neave is fully explored.

I objected incidentally to David Phillips deploying on the Rosemary Nelson inquiry. Ronnie Flanagan directed his exec officer to contact Home Office re Deal Barracks bombing and other matters and the Kent Police Authority call for inquiry and report August 97 which Phillips was failing to comply with (protected by Jack Straw). I assume you also don't know that in 2003 Gen De Chasterlain queried his terms of reference including why sabotage (Stage 3 IRA Garland Plan) did not feature as a weapons system in GFA. And querying whether his GFA term of ref empowered him to examine Kent Police Force history of firearms cert issues and civilian range policing.

I hope the Ballymurphy families get justice. But equally I hope that English families get justice under Article 2 as well.

If you publish this one I will be surprised indeed.

Retired said...

Just in case you publish I thought I better put in an explanation of my argument.

Airey Neave was involved postwar with TA SAS (lecturing on the threats political and technical from within). He became MP for an area in which was the atomic research establishment. An establishment benefitting from T Force and Operation Paperclip Nazi scientists and engineers (some of whom may have been smuggled to UK post war under French relief charity cover by ex SOE girls like the ubiquitous Sue Ryder and some who may have been exempted Nuremberg by the screening prosecutor one Airey Neave)

Neave was also on the powerful Science and Technology Select Cttee, trustee of Imperial College and with business interests in the nuclear industry.

He was a "Cold War Warrior". Reds under the beds paranoid.

In 1962 the Gardai gave UK Govt a copy of the IRA Garland Plan. Stage 3 of which is industrial and agricultural sabotage also involving recruitment within the UK trades unions (the very people Neave and his MI6 ilk thought were the enemy within)

In 1971 power cuts. Threats of strikes in mining, gas and electricity supply. Only nine weeks supply of coal at the power stations. Plans for troops to move coal from pitheads and technically ludicrous plans (Hail Force) for troops to operate power stations and a minimal railway service.

For the likes of Neave the last thing he needed was for his designated "Enemy within" to have a mate with a gun. And worse if that mate has graduate level expertise in sabotage on his team. Up against UK for whom Neave's worst strategic fear in the cold war was the shortage of engineers.

A trades union mate called IRA threatening to use FIVE weapons systems in CLASS warfare. (The GFA leaves three of the weapons systems out of the declaration and decommissioning terms)would have terrified Neave.

Internment without trial and the blood of innocents (Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday) played their part in changing the threat from CLASS struggle to SECTARIAN struggle. (The OIRA went to ceasefire Garland PLan deactivates ?)

My argument is that there is no justice until a Court evaluates the state strategic cui bono paid for in the currency of innocent suffering.

A charity with trustees SPORBORG, NEAVE and BERTHOUD (BP/MI6) was de facto where no one should be. Above the law. Do you believe that the rest of their assets and activity and ilk were fully accountable to law guaranteed by HM the Q sole fount of justice ?

Retired said...

Just in case you publish I thought I better put in an explanation of my argument.

Airey Neave was involved postwar with TA SAS (lecturing on the threats political and technical from within). He became MP for an area in which was the atomic research establishment. An establishment benefitting from T Force and Operation Paperclip Nazi scientists and engineers (some of whom may have been smuggled to UK post war under French relief charity cover by ex SOE girls like the ubiquitous Sue Ryder and some who may have been exempted Nuremberg by the screening prosecutor one Airey Neave)

Neave was also on the powerful Science and Technology Select Cttee, trustee of Imperial College and with business interests in the nuclear industry.

He was a "Cold War Warrior". Reds under the beds paranoid.

In 1962 the Gardai gave UK Govt a copy of the IRA Garland Plan. Stage 3 of which is industrial and agricultural sabotage also involving recruitment within the UK trades unions (the very people Neave and his MI6 ilk thought were the enemy within)

In 1971 power cuts. Threats of strikes in mining, gas and electricity supply. Only nine weeks supply of coal at the power stations. Plans for troops to move coal from pitheads and technically ludicrous plans (Hail Force) for troops to operate power stations and a minimal railway service.

For the likes of Neave the last thing he needed was for his designated "Enemy within" to have a mate with a gun. And worse if that mate has graduate level expertise in sabotage on his team. Up against UK for whom Neave's worst strategic fear in the cold war was the shortage of engineers.

A trades union mate called IRA threatening to use FIVE weapons systems in CLASS warfare. (The GFA leaves three of the weapons systems out of the declaration and decommissioning terms)would have terrified Neave.

Internment without trial and the blood of innocents (Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday) played their part in changing the threat from CLASS struggle to SECTARIAN struggle. (The OIRA went to ceasefire Garland PLan deactivates ?)

My argument is that there is no justice until a Court evaluates the state strategic cui bono paid for in the currency of innocent suffering.

A charity with trustees SPORBORG, NEAVE and BERTHOUD (BP/MI6) was de facto where no one should be. Above the law. Do you believe that the rest of their assets and activity and ilk were fully accountable to law guaranteed by HM the Q sole fount of justice ?

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