What happened in the Ballymurphy Massacre of 1971 and how many people were killed in Belfast’s Bloody Sunday?

THE Ballymurphy Massacre was a series of events that took place between August 9 and 11, 1971.

It saw British soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment kill eleven civilians in Ballymurphy in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Here’s what happened during Belfast’s “Bloody Sunday”.

The victims (from the left, top row) Joseph Corr, Danny Taggart, Eddie Doherty, Father Hugh Mullan, Frank Quinn and (from the left, second row) Paddy McCarthy, John McKerr, Noel Philips, John Laverty and Joseph Murphy
Press Association Images

What was the Ballymurphy Massacre?

The British Army carried out a series of killings of unarmed civilians in the west Belfast neighbourhood of Ballymurphy between August 9 and 11, 1971.

The British Army had been deployed in Northern Ireland since 1969 after political and sectarian violence had got beyond the control of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

On August 9, more than 600 British soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment entered the area and began raiding homes and rounding up men of all ages without reason.

The raids came as part of Operation Demetrius and were designed to arrest and intern anyone suspected of being a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Soldiers carried out early morning raids at around 5am, kicking down doors and dragging unsuspecting civilians from their beds.

Members of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment claim that as they entered the Ballymurphy area, they were shot at by republicans and were forced to return fire.

There is no video or photographic evidence of the killings or the violence that shook the residential neighbourhood and no journalists were present to record the events as they unfolded.

Statements provided by the troops claiming they fired in retailiation have always been angrily rejected by the victims’ families who maintain that the killing were unprovoked.

There is also no forensic evidence to suggest that any of the victims had fired a weapon themselves.

The three-day killing spree has been described as “Belfast’s Bloody Sunday” as it bore striking similarities with the mass killings in Londonderry to the mass shootings carried out by British soldiers in 1972.

Mourners file past the coffin of Father Hugh Mullan, at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church on the Ballymurphy estate
PA:Press Association

Has there been a new inquest into the Ballymurphy Massacre?

A new inquest is due to open this month, September 2018.

It will be presided over by Justice Siobhan Keegan at Belfast High Court and the hearing hopes to establish precisely want happened during the three-day siege.

It is also hoped that a fresh inquest will finally bring closure to the families who lost loved ones.

A Channel 4 documentary, Massacre at Ballymurphy, will also air on Saturday, September 8 2018, and will revisit the fatal gun battle that saw eleven citizens fatally shot.

Massacre victim Joseph Murphy and his wife Mary were buried together at Corpus Christi Parish church after dying on the same day – 45 years apart
PA:Press Association

Who were the victims?

Eleven civilians, including a priest, were fatally shot during the three day killing spree in Ballymurphy.

The victims were:

August 9, 1971

  • Corpus Christi Parish Priest Father Hugh Mullan – fatally shot of the Massacre as he went to help the injured in Springfield Park
  • Frank Quinn – a 19-year-old married man, with a child on the way, shot alongside Father Mullan as he was making his way to safety
  • Noel Phillips – a 20-year-old barman from Whitecliff Parade shot dead on the Manse after the deaths in Springfield Park
  • Joan Connolly – a 45-year-old mother of eight children and grandmother of one child shot and blinded as she went to help Noel Phillips outside the army base
  • Danny Teggart – a 44-year-old father of 13 children who lived in New Barnsley Crescent who was riddled with 14 bullets on the Manse
  • Joseph Murphy – a 42-year-old father of 12 shot and wounded on the Manse – as he was dying in hospital, he claimed that he had been beaten and shot again while in custody – this claim was not corroborated until 2015 when his body was exhumed and a second bullet was found in his body
The families of massacre victims hope a fresh inquest will provide them with closure 47 years after their loved ones were killed
Getty Images – Getty

August 10, 1971

  • Eddie Doherty – the 31-year-old father of two was fatally shot at an army barricade at the corner of Brittons Parade and the Whiterock Road.

August 11, 1971

  • John Laverty – a 20-year-old from Whitecliff Parade was shot in the early hours of the third day of the Massacre
  • Joseph Corr, a 43-year-old father of seven children was fatally shot further along the same street minutes later
  • Paddy McCarthy – a 44-year-old community worker from central London who came to Ballymurphy in 1970 to work as a youth leader – he died of a heart attack after a mock execution was carried out on him by members of the Parachute Regiment


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