When the conflict known as ‘the Troubles’ is discussed, the IRA is often the first thing that comes to people’s minds and rightly so; horrible things were done in its name. But too often the atrocities committed by the British are overlooked. People might’ve heard about Bloody Sunday (the British paratroopers who murdered 14 unarmed civilians were never convicted), but that’s about it. Let me inform you about, for example, the Ballymurphy Massacre of 1971.
Starting on the night of the 9th of August 1971, British paratroopers began to target random civilians in Ballymurphy, Belfast. The first to be shot (not killed) was Bobby Clarke, shot by a military sniper while trying to carry a child to safety during attacks by British terror gangs from the neighbouring Springmartin estate. Local people went to his aid, one of whom was local priest Father Hugh Mullan, waving a white cloth. He was shot in the back. Witnessing the second shooting, nineteen-year-old Francis Quinn rushed out to help the priest but he too was shot, this time in the back of the head. Both men eventually died of their injuries, their bodies left in the open for some time before they could be safely recovered by local people.
The killings went on for three days. Often random civilians were shot from behind or gunned down whilst injured. Perhaps most telling is the death of Pat McCarthy. He was hit by gunfire from passing troops as he tried to distribute milk and bread to families that were suffering under a military-imposed curfew. When wounded he was carrying a large Red Cross flag hoping that it would provide some degree of safety. A few hours later he was seized by soldiers who publicly beat him and carried out a mock execution with an unloaded gun. McCarthy suffered a heart attack and died some time later, the members of the Parachute Regiment preventing local people getting the dying man to a doctor. After three days of violence by the British Forces, eleven civilians were killed and dozens wounded.
“I’m sure this incident was thoroughly investigated!” I hear you think. Well, no. In 2014 the government of Britain announced its refusal to investigate the Ballymurphy Massacre. There is some minor progress at the moment; a Parachute Regiment Facebook has asked former members with any knowledge of the incident to get in touch. This, of course, is a farce. The Ballymurphy Massacre should be properly investigated, but it would cause an outrage among the British people. Even the piteous Facebook inquiry has been described as a “witch hunt against ex-soldiers”.
The British people who fail to see that it wasn’t just the IRA who were in the wrong during the Troubles and dare to describe a hint of an inquiry as a witch hunt, should be ashamed of themselves. No matter what side you’re on – Unionist, Loyalist, Nationalist, or even if you simply don’t give a toss – murder is murder and justice should be for all.