The Ballymurphy 11 were murdered by the British Army during the first 3 days of Internment in 1972. No one was ever brought to justice and the victims have never had the focus of the Bloody Sunday victims. 13 of the 14 Bloody Sunday victims were shot within 20 minutes in full view of the world’s media. The Ballymurphy victims were shot over 3 days in their own back streets. The families demand justice.
Today the Ballymurphy Massacre families were in The High Court Belfast to hear that the suspension of their Inquests has been lifted. In November 2012 the coroner John Leckey suspended the Inquests on the grounds that the Attorney General did not have the legal authority to grant them, he referred the matter to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers and The Advocate General Dominic Grieve QC. Today’s decision by the coroner to formally abandon his previous decision to suspend the Inquests calls into question the decision making process of the coroner.
Since the suspension at the end of last year the families have had to endure unnecessary stress and anxiety, which we now know was completely unjustified. The families have been waiting for over forty years for proper Inquests, the decision by Mr Leckey to suspend them without consulting the families was a bad decision.
At a recent meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers, she confirmed to the families that there was no legal barriers to prevent the Inquests from proceeding and that she had communicated this to the coroner John Leckey. The Advocate general Dominic Grieves also wrote to the coroner’s office stating:
“The view held here is that there is nothing in section 14 of the 1959 (Coroners NI) Act, as amended, that prevents the Attorney General for Northern Ireland from directing a new inquest, if on the basis of what he has seen, he considers a new inquest advisable. “The test imposed by the section has a very low threshold and the degree of discretion given to the Attorney General very broad. “We believe in the absence of a certificate from the Secretary of State, issued under sub-section 2, any direction given by the Attorney General is on the face of it lawful.
“We agree that if the Attorney General for Northern Ireland in reaching a decision to direct a new inquest does so knowing that there is information relevant to his decision that he has not taken into consideration then, in keeping with general public law considerations, his decision may be subject to challenge but we do not think section 14, as amended, can be read to place a duty on the Attorney General to draw cases to the attention of the Secretary of State.
“I would also add that whilst the test, sub section 2, imposes on the Secretary of State requires her to consider whether the disclosure of information “may be against the interest of national security”that is not a matter that the Advocate General could take into account if the matter was transferred to him.”
The families are looking forward to the preliminary hearings and are confident that the Inquests will start soon.
What can we do to support the Ballymurphy families?
Distribute this information as widely as possible – in trade unions, political parties, community groups, friends & colleagues. Contact us for speakers and leaflets.
Write to David Cameron, Theresa Villiers and your own MP to demand a full independent, international investigation into the Ballymurphy killings – and encourage others to do so.
David Cameron, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in form at https://email.number10.gov.uk/Contact.aspx
Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Office, 11 Millbank, London SW1P 4PN e-mail: email@example.com
Your own MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA http://www.writetothem.com/