Direct from No.10: What PM said in Ballymurphy apology call

The Prime Minister has described the deaths which took place in a three-day shooting spree in Ballymurphy during 1971 as “deeply sad” and “tragic”.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 7:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 8:36 am

The News Letter had enquired with No.10 Downing Street exactly what Boris Johnson had said to the First and Deputy First Ministers, after stories began circulating this evening that he had made a private apology to them.

It comes after an inquest ruled on Tuesday that, whilst there had been paramilitary activity in the Ballymurphy area at the time of the bloodbath, the victims were wholly innocent and there had been no justification for killing them.

Ten people were shot dead by the Parachute Regiment, and another died of a heart attack.

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A mural devoted to the Ballymurphy victims (c/o RTE)

A Downing Street spokesperson said (message below in full):

“The Prime Minister spoke to the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill, this afternoon.

“He said the conclusions of the Ballymurphy Inquest, published yesterday, were deeply sad and that the events of August 1971 were tragic.

“The Prime Minister apologised unreservedly on behalf of the UK Government for the events that took place in Ballymurphy and the huge anguish that the lengthy pursuit of truth has caused the families of those killed.

The Prime Minster restated the Government’s intention to deliver a way forward in Northern Ireland that focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims of the Troubles and ends the cycle of re-investigations.

“He stressed the importance of working hard to keep the gains made through the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and of all parties doing their utmost to help the victims’ families find out what happened to their loved ones, so that future generations are not burdened by the past.

“The Prime Minister also congratulated the First Minister and deputy First Minister on Northern Ireland’s progress in rolling out coronavirus vaccinations. He extended an invitation for the First Minister and deputy First Minister to join a meeting to discuss Covid recovery.”

The News Letter had asked if a public apology is also to be made (like the one David Cameron issued over Bloody Sunday, on the floor of the Commons), and is currently awaiting a reply.

More from this reporter:

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