On Monday 9th of August 1971 Interment without Trial was introduced by the British Government in the North of Ireland. This policy was implemented by the British Army at 4am on that particular summer morning. The British Army directed the campaign against the predominately Catholic community with the stated aim to "shock and stun the civilian population".
Between 9th and 11th of August 1971, over 600 British soldiers entered the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast, raiding homes and rounding up men. Many, both young and old, were shot and beaten as they were dragged from their homes without reason. During this 3 day period 11 people were brutally murdered.
All 11 unarmed civilians were murdered by the British Army's Parachute Regiment. One of the victims was a well known parish priest and another was a 45 year old mother of eight children. No investigations were carried out and no member of the British Army was held to account.
It is believed that some of the soldiers involved in Ballymurphy went on to Derry some months later where similar events occurred. Had those involved in Ballymurphy been held to account, the events of Bloody Sunday may not have happened.
The terrible events which took place in Ballymurphy in 1971 have for too long remained in the shadows. Here we, the families of those murdered, put the spotlight on how 11 innocent people met their deaths over a three day period in August 1971
The Massacre - Chronology
On the 9th of August 1971, at roughly 8:30pm, in the Springfield Park area of West Belfast, a local man was trying to lift children to safety when he was shot and wounded by the British Army's Parachute Regiment. Local people tried to help the wounded man but were pinned back by the Parachute Regiment's gunfire. Local parish priest, Father Hugh Mullan, telephoned the Henry Taggart army post to tell them he was going into the field to help the injured man.
Father Mullan entered the field, waving a white baby grow. He anointed the injured man, named locally as Bobby Clarke. Having identified that Bobby had received a flesh wound and was not fatally wounded, Father Mullan attempted to leave the field. At this point Father Mullan was fatally shot in the back.
On witnessing such events another young man of 19 years, Frank Quinn, came out of his place of safety to help Father Mullan. Frank was shot in the back of the head as he tried to reach Father Mullan. The bodies of Father Hugh Mullan and Frank Quinn lay where they were shot until local people could safely reach them. Their bodies remained in neighbouring homes until they could be safely removed the next morning.
Tension was rising in the community as local youths fought back against the army's horrendous campaign. Families were fleeing their homes in Springfield park as they came under attack from loyalist mobs approaching from the direction of Springmartin. Parents frantically searched for their children. Local men were still being removed from their homes, beaten and interned without reason. All this and at the same time the people of Ballymurphy were trying to live a normal live.
Local people had started
gathering at the bottom of Springfield park, an area known locally as the
Manse. Some of those gathering included Joseph Murphy who was returning from
the wake of a local boy who drowned in a swimming accident. Joan Connolly
and her neighbour Anna Breen stopped as they searched for their daughters.
Daniel Teggart also stopped as he returned from his brother's house which
was close to Springfield Park. Daniel had gone to his brother's house to check
on his brother’s safety as his house had been attacked as local youth
targeted the Henry Taggart Army base located near by. Noel Phillips, a young
man of 19 years, having just finished work walked to Springfield park to check
on the local situation.