Ballymurphy: State Massacre

Anarchist Communist Group

After fifty years the truth is beginning to emerge about the massacre of eleven people in West Belfast by the Parachute Regiment of the British Army.

A coroner has found that nine of the ten had been shot by them, whilst in the case of the tenth, John McKerr, there was doubt as to who had killed him, it either being a Loyalist paramilitary or more probably a British soldier. The coroner found that there was a distinct lack of evidence volunteered by the authorities as regards his death, hinting at the cover-up that had taken place over a span of fifty years.

The families of those murdered have had to wait a half century for this. John Teggart, the son of one of those murdered, Daniel Teggart, went on record to state, “It has taken us 50 years to get to this point. We are just ordinary families from Ballymurphy but we have held the British government and Ministry of Defence to account. We hope today will give strength to all other families. It can be done, don’t give up, you will succeed. These lies end today. We have corrected history today. The inquest confirmed that the soldiers who came to the area, supposedly to protect us, turned their guns on us.”

The massacre took place on 9th August 1971 when six hundred paratroopers surrounded and entered the Ballymurphy estate, smashing down doors at 5am and dragging people from their beds. This coincided with a Loyalist attack on homes in nearby Springfield Park, causing families to flee into the streets.

The paratroopers shot Joan Connolly repeatedly, totally disfiguring her face. She lay on waste ground for six hours, bleeding to death. Another victim of the paratroopers, Noel Phillips, was wounded and then finished off with a shot behind each ear. A local priest, Father Hugh Mullan, was shot at least twice whilst giving last rites to another dying man. Another, Pat MacCarthy, suffered a mock execution, with an unloaded gun shoved in his mouth and fired, resulting in his death by a heart attack.

The paratrooper commanders tried to cover up the massacre by stating that the IRA were firing on soldiers at the time and that those killed were IRA volunteers, when in fact none of those massacred were paramilitaries.

Over the years, a massive cover-up has obscured details of what happened. The original inquest in 1972 returned open verdicts. As a result of families of those murdered getting together in a campaign, the Attorney General in Northern Ireland okayed a request for a new inquest in 2011. These finally opened in late 2018 and finished this March.

One officer implicated in the massacre is now a retired British Army general, Sir Mike Jackson. Five months after the Ballymurphy massacre he was second in command of the Parachute Regiment when it shot dead fourteen unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday in Derry. Chief of General Staff of the British Army until his retirement in 2006, Jackson was commander of the British Army that invaded Iraq in 2003. At the inquest he gave a grudging, mealy-mouthed apology: “Let me say to the families who so long ago lost their loved ones: for me it’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy which is hugely regrettable, but I would also say that anybody who loses their lives as a result of violent conflict is also a tragedy. I too have lost friends, so be it. My sympathies to you and I’m sorry that it is only now after so long that you feel you can come to terms.”

Boris Johnson failed to make an apology in Parliament after the findings of the inquest, leaving it to the Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, to do this. Johnson sent a letter to the bereaved families just a few minutes before the announcement in Parliament. The families described this as unacceptable. One of them, Carmel Quinn, saying that Johnson’s description of the massacre as an “event” was appalling. “It wasn’t an event, it was mass murder of a civilian population.” John Teggart went on to say, “General Mike Jackson is considered a hero in Britain, but he was the one who told you that our loved ones were gunmen and gunwomen. The inquest confirmed that the soldiers who came to the North, supposedly to protect us… turned their guns on us. The British government now wants to deny us the chance for justice by introducing an amnesty for these murders.I want to speak directly to the people of Britain at this moment. Can you imagine what would have happened if soldiers murdered 10 unarmed civilians on the streets of London, Liverpool or Birmingham? What would you expect of an investigation? Would you expect justice? Or would you be happy for them to get an amnesty?”

The apologies made by the present government are particularly nauseating and insulting, as we know they are being made by the same establishment that was responsible for the original acts and the subsequent cover ups. And the same State that would do it all again if they needed to.

The Ballymurphy massacre, which happened over two days, is less well known than Bloody Sunday, not least as there was minimal media attention, yet it set the scene for the continued brutality of the Parachute Regiment. As the truth of the British State’s activity in the Six Counties, its collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries and its willingness to lie and obfuscate, is slowly being admitted to, we see revealed the state dripping head to foot in blood.

Red and Black Telly roundup.





Four from Mal Content.

Chapters 22 – 25 of The Authority of the Boot-Maker

(C.W. racism, torture, sexual violence)

The fear of violence.

The state is prison.

The Iva Valley Colliers.

Britain’s Gulags.

Unquiet Graves Uncovering Britain’s Secret War in Ireland

Bristol Radical History Group

Unquiet Graves Poster

Between 1972 and 1978 more than 120 innocent civilians in Northern Ireland were murdered. Documentary director Sean Murray set out to investigate and found disturbing evidence of collusion between the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Ulster Defence Regiment and loyalist death squads. Sean Murray will present the documentary.

“…outstanding documentary film-making combining in-depth research and personal testimony to expose the undeniable truth of state collusion and its fatal consequences.” Phil Scraton, author “Hillsborough: The Truth”.

More information:

Tickets here:

Red And Black Telly: TORY CONFERENCE 2019

Unquiet Graves – film review

Anarchist Communist Group

Unquiet Graves, the new documentary from Irish filmmaker Sean Murray, is an important work on several levels. It Informs the viewer of state collusion, indeed state sponsorship of sectarian murder gangs in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. It highlights this activity before the events get lost as ‘tragic history’ and it seeks some semblance of justice for the families of the victims of security services – directed paramilitary murder.

The film begins with a re-enactment of the murder of two young men, Colm McCartney and Sean Farmer, in 1975. Returning from a Gaelic football game in Dublin, the two were stopped at a ‘British Army’ checkpoint near the village of Newtownhamilton in County Armagh and shot dead. This murder, which came three years into the sectarian murder campaign, is returned to, with great poignancy in animated form later in the film.

A large part of the film’s content is based upon more than 15 years of research undertaken by the Pat Finucane Centre, a human rights advocacy organisation in Northern Ireland, much of which was published in the book Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland (2013). The book catalogued the concerted activities of the Loyalist paramilitary Mid Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), elements of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the locally recruited Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), part of the British Army in what became known as the Tyrone-Armagh Murder triangle.

Much of the evidence of collusion was provided by one of the active participants, John Weir. Weir, was a sergeant in the RUC’s Special Patrol Group (SPG) counter-terrorist section and member of the UVF. His 1999 affidavit outlined in detail the consistent collusion between security services and Loyalist Paramilitaries in the Murder Triangle and beyond.

The modus operandi was to select ‘soft’ targets, concentrating upon ‘respectable’ Catholic individuals and families without connections to the Republican movement. The highest profile killings were that of members of the Miami Showband pop group in July 1975, but that was an exception. The targets would be chosen, the surveillance and logistic support provided by the security services and the murders carried out by a mix of off, and sometimes on-duty RUC men, UDR soldiers and UVF members. RUC roadblocks, which were normalised in rural Tyrone and Armagh, were sometimes set up to prevent witnesses. The nominal RUC investigations into the murders returned a 100% failure to convict. Patently, the campaign was being given the go ahead by officials much further up the chain of command.

The Glennane Gang extended their operations into the Irish Republic, planting bombs in the border town of Dundalk and were responsible for the infamous car bombings of Monaghan and Dublin in May 1974 which claimed 34 lives. They undertook this operation as they did many others between 1972 and 1980, with the height of their killing between 1974 and 1976, in a state of heightened confidence that they were protected by important sections of local and national law enforcement. In total the gang has been connected to more than 120 murders. Most of their atrocities were claimed in the name of the Protestant Action Force, occasionally the Red Hand Commando – itself a part of the UVF or remained anonymous. Their intention is generally believed to have been to spread terror and panic amongst the Catholic/Nationalist community in the hope that this would provoke the Provisional IRA, then on ceasefire, into tit for tat killings. This did, to a limited but bloody extent, happen when the Republican Action Force murdered 10 Protestant building workers at Kingsmill, South Armagh in January 1976, which is highlighted in the film.

Following this sectarian revenge attack, the Glennane Gang formulated a plan to massacre Catholic school children and their teachers in the Armagh village of Beleeks. The intention can only have been to escalate the situation into open civil war, drawing in the Republican movement and forcing the hand of the British state and any reticent Loyalists.

However, the leadership of the UVF, who were contemporaneously turning a blind eye to the horrifically brutal Shankill Butchers, were unwilling to sanction the slaughter of innocent primary school children and the inevitable international condemnation it would have brought.

There are ongoing attempts to uncover the full truth about the Glennane Gang and its connections to the secret, and not too secret, state, attempts which have been hampered at every turn, despite the Good Friday Agreement, and the ostensible embracing of openness and reconciliation.

The documentary gives an opportunity for the perspectives and voices of the victim’s families to be foregrounded and the interviews with the relatives of those murdered are moving and powerful. The struggle for the truth about collusion and state terror continues.

Try to see this important film. More info HERE
Anarchist Communist Group