The state is rightly held to a higher standard when it fails but terrorists must also face up to the truth

A letter from Mr J James:

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 7:45 am
One of the locations where some of the Ballymurphy victims were killed in August 1971

All of those involved in the Ballymurphy inquest are to be commended for their hard work. Mrs Justice Keegan painstakingly reviewed what limited evidence was available and came to her conclusions on the balance of probabilities.

Unfortunately there was little direct evidence for her to consider as many witnesses either refused to appear or had predeceased the commencement of proceedings.

/It is ironic that the judgement came on the same day as the Queen’s speech which included legislation on the pernicious issue of legacy. The reaction to the proposed legislation demonstrates the difficult conundrum all stakeholders have.

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Ironically, all involved, who agree on virtually nothing, appear to be united against it.

The question is to proceed with an imperfect process which is centred around attribution of responsibility and not necessarily about getting the ‘whole truth’. Or to replace it with a process that may tender more witnesses and potentially produce more reliable evidence but with no or limited scope for justice. I

don’t think there is a ‘right answer’, just a least worst option.

As with the Bloody Sunday Inquiry; context is key. The Parachute Regiment are the pointy end of the sphere of the British Infantry.

Whilst these soldiers were well trained, no training can prepare one for engagement with the enemy.

These young soldiers, many of them in their late teens and early twenties, would have been in fear.

The intelligence picture, which soldiers would have been briefed going out the door was clear — the enemy are on the streets.

Indeed in the preceding days there had been approximately 12 explosions, 59 shooting incidents, 17 reported deaths, 25 reported injuries, 13 incidents of rioting, 18 reports of arson and other reports of civil disorder of various kinds.

This is the context in which the Army was attempting to maintain law and order.

As we know paramilitaries operated guerilla tactics, did not wear and uniform and did not follow the rules.

It is fair to say it was not always possible to positively identify terrorists from civilians. That said, the fact several civilians were killed is a tragedy.

The fact there wasn’t a timely, robust investigation is a lamentable failure.

The Ballymurphy, Bloody Sunday, and now probably the Finucane families have or are likely to get answers. That is right and proper.

The state should be held to account where it has failed. However, all people are equal before the law.

Nearly 3,084 troubles victims were murdered by terrorist organisations. All of these were murders.

A total of 363 were killed by the state, the majority of these were lawful killings but clearly some were not.

My question is, when will the families of the 3,084 receive their inquiry, their inquest, their truth and their justice?

Mr J James, Belfast BT4

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