Ballymurphy: ‘There were gun battles every day – and not just in west Belfast’

A former top police officer has questioned how it would be possible to resource the PSNI and courts to investigate all the bloodshed that began sweeping the Province 50 years ago.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 7:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 9:12 am

Alan McQuillan also said that the violent turmoil which had engulfed west Belfast in summer of 1971 was replicated right across the city.

He was speaking after an inquest cleared all the victims of the 1971 Ballymurphy bloodbath of wrongdoing.

Mr McQuillan, a former RUC Assistant Chief Constable, remembered the at the time of the Ballymurphy killing spree he was a schoolboy in north Belfast, at the Boys’ Model.

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A mural honouring those killed at Ballymurphy

“We had huge gun battles every day across Belfast, involving various factions,” he said.

“My own primary school was fortified; the front end of it was taken over by the Army and they fought gun battles every week with the IRA and sometimes loyalists as well. It was an absolutely mad time for the city – not just in Ballymurphy, but everywhere.”

He rejected the idea of “whataboutery” when it came to the Ballymurphy deaths.

“The difficulty in all of this on all sides is trying to re-investigate these cases after 50 years is impossible, or next to impossible. Records have been lost or were destroyed,” he said.

“The chances of getting a more detailed answer, bringing people to book, are very, very small.

“And there are thousands of other people who have no prospect of having their cases re-investigated. And those were just the ones who were killed!

“Tens of thousands of others had attempts to kill them.”

He questioned how such investigations could possibly be resourced adequately.

“I think we end up back in a position where we have to accept that at some point it is impossible to reinvestigate that far back in the past,” he said.

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