By Rebecca Black, PA
The pronouncement of 10 people killed in west Belfast in 1971 as innocent has been welcomed by Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister.
The British Army was found responsible for nine of the deaths of 10 people in Ballymurphy in August 1971, including a mother-of-eight and a Catholic priest following fresh inquests.
Presiding Coroner Mrs Justice Keegan acknowledged it was a chaotic time but ruled that the use of force by soldiers had been “disproportionate” in the deaths the Army was found to have been responsible for.
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) May 11, 2021
She ruled out any paramilitary involvement by any of those killed, and described them as “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing on the day in question”.
Reacting to the findings, Michelle O’Neill claimed it was “British state murder”.
She tweeted: “The victims and the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre have been vindicated and the truth laid bare. This was British state murder.”
The Republic's Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, said the findings have “cast a tremendous new light on one of the darkest pages of the history of the conflict”.
He said the findings will come as an “immense relief and vindication for the families who have maintained for decades that their loved ones were innocent and their killings unjustified”.
The Ballymurphy families have had battle too hard and too long to finally hear that truth at today's inquest ruling into their loved ones' deaths.
They have carried themselves with courage and fortitude throughout the last 50 years.
This is vindication of their fight. https://t.co/ksEi7XMey3
— Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long) May 11, 2021
Alliance leader Naomi Long paid tribute to the families following their long campaign to clear their loved ones’ names.
“The Ballymurphy families have had battle too hard and too long to finally hear that truth at today’s inquest ruling into their loved ones’ deaths,” she tweeted.
“They have carried themselves with courage and fortitude throughout the last 50 years. This is vindication of their fight.”