Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that the verdict of the Ballymurphy Inquest which proved the innocence of the 11 people murdered by the parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy, Belfast in 1971 shows the need for a truth and reconciliation process for the north of Ireland and the importance that the obligations of the Stormont House Agreement are fulfilled by the British government.
Speaking during Dáil statements on the Ballymurphy Inquest last night, Teachta Crowe said:
“Almost 50 years ago, the Parachute Regiment murdered 11 people in Ballymurphy estate in Belfast. For 50 years, the families of those murdered by British soldiers have fought for truth and justice. It has taken almost 50 years to prove that every one of the victims was an innocent civilian killed as an oppressive state’s forces swept through the North, interning Catholic men of all ages without trial and without any cause bar where they lived.
“The truth has now been laid bare for all to see. It has been many years since I first met the families of those killed in August 1971. Today, we remember those who did not live to see their relatives’ innocence proven and their crusade for justice vindicated. It is a pity that the families’ pain mixed with joy at the coroner’s verdict was met with such a cruel, indifferent non-apology from the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
“Johnson’s Government wants to legislate away the atrocities committed by crown forces in the North of Ireland and pretend they never happened. It wants to cover up the role of the British army in the conflict and to legislate and put current and former British soldiers beyond justice and international law. The British Government has no intention of fulfilling its obligations in the North. The last thing it wants is truth or reconciliation. The Ballymurphy families, the Finucane family, and the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings have been forced to campaign for decades for the truth to come out about those atrocities.
“Yesterday marked the 47th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, another act of violence on this island aided and abetted by the British state. Thirty-four people were killed that day, the most at any point in the conflict. The families believe that British security forces and their agents provided logistics to aid the bombers that day but every attempt to uncover the truth has been stonewalled by successive British Governments. The British Government maintains its public position of silence and repeats its worn-out, rehearsed words of denial. It refuses to release the relevant files and information that it has on the attacks that killed 34 innocent people, including an unborn child, and injured and maimed almost 300.
“Every death in the conflict was a tragedy. No family’s grief counts for less than any other. There should never be a hierarchy of victims, but there clearly is when it comes to those who were murdered by British state forces. For wounds to heal and for growth and progress to really flourish, we need a truth and reconciliation process that deals with the past. This was agreed in the Stormont House talks by both Governments and all political parties.
“If we allow those wrongs to fester and remain, we will never collectively move on from the hurt and rancour that this type of pain inflicts over generations. The cycle of state violence to oppress a people and try to make them cower in submission is not a new tactic, but it is one that seldom works. It breeds resistance and leads to further conflict. We saw it in Ballymurphy, in Derry following Bloody Sunday, in Dublin and in Monaghan. We see it today in Gaza and East Jerusalem.”