Ballymurphy inquest: Three soldiers to give evidence over 1971 Belfast shootings

By David Blevins, senior Ireland correspondent

Three soldiers have been called to give evidence into the deaths of 10 people in Belfast 47 years ago.

An inquest into the Ballymurphy shootings in August 1971 heard that the deaths were the result of "illegitimate, unjustified and indiscriminate use of force by the army".

Operation Demetrius — the internment of IRA suspects without trial — had just begun when members of the Parachute Regiment were deployed to Ballymurphy in west Belfast.

Over the course of the next three days, the deaths of 10 people who were fatally wounded in five separate incidents will be investigated — nearly half a century later.

Protesters demonstrate over the Ballymurphy massacre

Sean Doran QC, counsel for the coroner’s service, told the court in Belfast: "The narrative of the military is legitimate use of force was used at a time of heightened tension and response to specific threat".

He said that ran contrary to the view of the Ballymurphy families who believe the deaths resulted from "illegitimate, unjustified and indiscriminate use of force by the army on civilians."

The dead included a Catholic priest — Father Hugh Mullan — and Joan Connolly, a mother of eight children.

Inquest begins into the Ballymurphy Massacre of 1971 . Blevins VT

Arriving for the inquest, Briege Voyle, one of Mrs Connolly’s daughters, said: "People have accused us of trying to re-write history. We’re not.

"My mother would have been 90 if she’d have been still alive and if my great-grandchildren were to read the history books, they’re saying my mummy was a gunwoman and that is lies, 100% lies."

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