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'all innocent' Calls for UK Government to apologise as Northern Ireland leaders react to Ballymurphy inquest findings

All of those who died during the Ballymurphy massacre were not in the IRA

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Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill (Niall Carson/PA)

Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill (Niall Carson/PA)

Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill (Niall Carson/PA)

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill of Sinn Fein led the reaction from her party after the findings of the Ballymurphy inquest were published today which has ruled that none of those killed during the incident were members of a paramilitary organisation.

The Sinn Fein leader described the findings as evidence of 'British state murder'.

John Finucane, Sinn Fein MP for north Belfast, whose father Pat was controversially murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in front of him in 1989, said 'today the truth won'.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood praised the 'fearless dedication' of the families who spent 50 years fighting for justice for their loved ones.

Meanwhile, Alliance leader Naomi Long called on the UK Government to apologise for the actions of the Army at Ballymurphy.

Ten people were killed during the Ballymurphy massacre, which happened in August 1971.

The deaths were the result of an Army operation which saw soldiers enter the area of west Belfast as part of Operation Demetrius which sought to intern suspected PIRA members without trial.

Soldiers have claimed they were shot at as they entered the area by PIRA operatives, returning fire.

The operation took place over three days.

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PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 11/05/2021
Rita Bonner , Sister of John Laverty  arrives at the Waterfront in Belfast on Tuesday.

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 11/05/2021 Rita Bonner , Sister of John Laverty arrives at the Waterfront in Belfast on Tuesday.

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 11/05/2021 Rita Bonner , Sister of John Laverty arrives at the Waterfront in Belfast on Tuesday.

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Six people were killed on August 9: Francis Quinn (19), Joan Connolly (44), Daniel Teggart (44), Joseph Murphy (41), Noel Phillips (20) and Father Hugh Mullan (38).

In the following 48 hours, another four men were shot dead: John McKerr (49), Paddy McCarthy (44). John Laverty (20) and Edward Doherty (28).

The families have always maintained their loved ones were unarmed.

An inquest into the incident began in late 2018 has seen over 150 witnesses take part, including over 60 former soldiers.

Separate inquests took place into Ballymurphy in 1972, however they were inconclusive.

The inquest has been hampered as several documents relating to it including statements from soldiers who said they had shot someone, however many of those documents have been lost down the years.

Before arriving at a special facility at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast the families attended a special mass at Corpus Christi Church in Ballymurphy.

Following the outcome of the inquest, families and campaigners will have a rally in the Ballymurphy area this evening.

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