Ballymurphy inquest: New legacy process would give more victims access to justice, says Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said the Ballymurphy inquest had given the bereaved families “access to justice”.
The DUP MP told the BBC that it had allowed them “to have their case put forward” and that moving forward a legacy process was needed which “enables innocent victims – particularly those who were victims of terrorism – to have the opportunity of access to justice”.
A spokesperson for the UUP said: “We have always taken the view that no one needed to die. We have been consistent in our support for the rule of law and accept the coroner`s ruling regarding the Ballymurphy deaths. We hope it brings some comfort to the families.”
The spokesperson added: “Our thoughts are primarily with them at this time, and we are also conscious of the many hundreds of families across Northern Ireland and beyond who also lost loved ones. 180 people lost their lives in Troubles related deaths in 1971 and nearly 500 people the following year. This was carnage on our streets which is utterly unimaginable in 2021.”
Presbyterian moderator Rev Dr David Bruce said the coroner’s finding, that those killed were “entirely innocent of wrongdoing” were “long awaited”.
Rev Bruce said “For the Ballymurphy families, today’s findings are a long awaited public declaration of the innocence of their loved ones.
“As they take in the news that they have waited 50 years to hear, it reminds us once more of the tragic and shattering past that Northern Ireland has witnessed, and the legacy of those times half a century on.”
Rev Bruce went on to say: “For too many people across Northern Ireland, and indeed further afield, today would have brought back memories of loved ones whose lives were also cut short during what we casually call ‘The Troubles’. At this particular time they, along with the Ballymurphy families, are in our thoughts and prayers.”
In a brief initial joint statement, campaign groups Justice for NI Veterans, Million Veterans March and Rolling Thunder said they “completely reject the findings of Ballymurphy inquest by Mrs Justice Keegan”.