Ballymurphy massacre

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Ballymurphy Massacre
Part of the Troubles
A mural in Belfast commemorating the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre.
Location Belfast, Northern Ireland
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Date 9 – 11 August 1971
Attack type
Deaths 11
Perpetrator The Parachute Regiment, British Army

The Ballymurphy Massacre was a series of incidents involving the killing of eleven civilians by the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment of the British Army in Ballymurphy, Belfast, Northern Ireland. The killings happened between 9 and 11 August 1971, during Operation Demetrius. The shootings have also been called Belfast Bloody Sunday, a reference to another massacre of civilians by the same battalion a few months later.[1]

The Northern Ireland Troubles had been ongoing for two years, and Belfast was particularly affected by political and sectarian violence. The British Army had been deployed in Northern Ireland in 1969, as events had gone beyond the control of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

On the morning of Monday 9 August 1971, the security forces launched Operation Demetrius. The plan was to arrest and intern anyone suspected of being a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. The unit selected for this operation was the Parachute Regiment—the same regiment later responsible for the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry on 30 January 1972.[2] Members of the Parachute Regiment stated that, as they entered the Ballymurphy area, they were shot at by republicans and returned fire.[3]

In 2016 Declan Morgan, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, recommended an inquest into the killings as one of a series of "legacy inquests" covering 56 cases related to the Troubles.[4][5] However these inquests are not currently scheduled to go ahead since funding was not approved by the Northern Ireland Executive, reportedly due to the influence of Arlene Foster, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, a decision condemned by the human rights group Amnesty International.[6][7][8]


Commemoration plaque in a remembrance garden in Ballymurphy, Belfast

Six civilians were killed on 9 August, these were:

  • Francis Quinn (19), shot by a sniper (who had taken position at the nearby army base) while going to the aid of a wounded man.[9][10]
  • Hugh Mullan (38), a Catholic priest, shot by a sniper while going to the aid of a wounded man.[9][11]
  • Joan Connolly (50), shot as she stood opposite the army base.[9][12]
  • Daniel Teggart (44), was shot fourteen times. Most of the bullets entered his back, allegedly as he lay injured on the ground.[9][13]
  • Noel Phillips (20), shot as he stood opposite the army base.[9][14]
  • Joseph Murphy (41), shot as he stood opposite the army base.[9] Murphy was subsequently taken into army custody and after his release, as he was dying in hospital, he claimed that he had been beaten and shot again while in custody. When his body was exhumed in October 2015, a second bullet was discovered in his body, which activists say corroborate his claim.[15]

One civilian was shot on 10 August, and another four were shot on 11 August, these were:

  • Edward Doherty (28), shot while walking along Whiterock Road.[16]
  • John Laverty (20) and Joseph Corr (43) were shot at separate points at the Top of the Whiterock Road. Laverty was shot twice, once in the back and once in the back of the leg. Corr was shot multiple times and died of his injuries on 27 August.[9][17]
  • John McKerr (49), shot by unknown attackers while standing outside the Roman Catholic church, died of his injuries on 20 August.[10][18][19]
  • Paddy McCarthy (44) got into a confrontation with a group of soldiers. Family allege an empty gun was put in his mouth and the trigger pulled. McCarthy suffered a heart attack and died shortly thereafter.[20][21]

In February 2015, the conviction of Terry Laverty, younger brother of John, was quashed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.[22] He had been convicted of riotous behaviour and sentenced to six months on the eye-witness evidence of a paratrooper.[23]

See also


  1. Damian Robin (29 June 2010). "Belfast ‘Bloody Sunday’ Inquiry Called For". The Epoch Times. Archived from the original on 20 February 2013. 
  2. "Bishop Backs Army Killings Probe - Northern Ireland, Local & National -". 29 July 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  3. "Ballymurphy families meet First Minister Peter Robinson". BBC News. 18 February 2011. 
  4. Kearney, Vincent (18 January 2016). "The Troubles: Judge begins review of inquests". BBC News. London. Retrieved 4 May 2016. There are 56 cases involving 97 deaths. … The stalled inquests into the Army shootings of 10 people in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, in 1971, and of five more civilians in nearby Springhill a year later, were examined on the opening day in Laganside Courts. 
  5. "Legacy inquests in Northern Ireland 'can be dealt with in five years'". BBC News. London. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016. After a review of more than 50 outstanding cases it has been decided that all are suitable for inquest. 
  6. Kearney, Vincent (3 May 2016). "Lord Chief Justice legacy inquests plan put on hold". BBC News. London. Retrieved 4 May 2016. A radical plan by Northern Ireland's most senior judge to deal with inquests into some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles has been put on hold. The Stormont Executive failed to sign off on a request for funding. 
  7. McDonald, Henry (4 May 2016). "NI first minister accused of delaying justice over Troubles inquests". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 May 2016. Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist party (DUP), confirmed she had used her influence in the devolved power-sharing executive to hold back finance for a backlog of inquests connected to the conflict. 
  8. "Northern Ireland: victims betrayed as First Minister blocks ‘Troubles’ inquest plan" (Press release). Amnesty International UK. 3 May 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 CAIN - Index of Deaths - 9 August 1971
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Ballymurphy shootings: 36 hours in Belfast that left 10 dead". The Guardian. 26 Jun 2014. 
  11. "Fr Hugh Mullan". Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  12. "Joan Connolly". Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  13. McDonald, Henry (6 June 2010). "Were Bloody Sunday Soldiers Involved in 'Ballymurphy Massacre'? / UK News / The Observer". Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  14. "Noel Phillips". Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  15. Gerry Moriarty (2015-10-27). "Bullet found in body of exhumed Ballymurphy massacre victim". Irish Times. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  16. CAIN - Index of Deaths - 10 August 1971
  17. "Joseph Corr". Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  18. CAIN - Index of Deaths - 11 August 1971
  19. "John McKerr". Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  20. CAIN - Index of Deaths - Sudden deaths due to heart problem during an incident
  21. "Paddy McCarthy". Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  22. "Ballymurphy conviction: Terry Laverty cleared of rioting". BBC News Online. 10 February 2015. 
  23. Henry McDonald (10 February 2015). "Belfast man cleared of rioting during 1971 Ballymurphy unrest". The Guardian.