Ten killed in west Belfast in 1971 were ‘entirely innocent’, coroner rules

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 12, 2021

She ruled out any paramilitary involvement by any of those killed, and described them as "entirely innocent of any wrongdoing on the day in question".

Horrified that they had been labelled terrorists, their families rejected the outcome of an inquest and demanded a fresh one.

Family members applauded as coroner Siobhan Keegan delivered her findings in the inquest into the deaths, which occurred during three days of unrest in August 1971. That evening, at Springfield Park in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast, parish priest Father Hugh Mullan, 38, died after being caught in gunfire as he went to help a wounded man.

I want to acknowledge the bad hurt that has been caused to the families of Francis Quinn, Father Hugh Mullan, Noel Phillips, Joan Connolly, Daniel Teggart, Joseph Murphy, Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr, and John McKerr.

The coroner ruled that the use of force in shooting Mr Doherty was disproportionate.

Edward Doherty, 43, John Laverty, 20, and Joseph Corr, 43 were the last three victims of what residents of the community call "the Ballymurphy massacre". He died from his injuries on August 20th.

Mrs Justice Keegan said he was an entirely innocent man but there was not enough evidence for her to determine where the shot that killed him came from, or whether it was sacked by the military or paramilitaries.

Rita Bonner holds a photograph of her brother John Laverty who was shot in Ballymurphy, ahead of the inquest into the shooting, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday May 11, 2021.

While outlining the context in which the deaths happened, in terms of the start of what has become known as the Troubles and the introduction of the policy of internment without trial on August 9, she said she assessed each incident on its own facts.

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