Ballymurphy Massacre Families Brief US Congressional Delegation in Belfast This Morning
Pat Quinn, the brother of Frank Quinn, and John Taggert, the son of Danny Taggert, two of the 11 people murdered by the British Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy on August 9th 1971 during internment, this morning held a one hour meeting with several key member of the US Congress currently visiting the North. Mark Thompson the Director of Relatives for Justice also attended the meeting.
The Congressional Delegation included veteran human rights campaigners Congressman Ritchie Neal, and Congressman Donald Payne. Other members of Congress included Congressman Mike Doyle, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Congressman Tim Holden.
Speaking after the meeting Pat Quinn said;
‘This was an important meeting in terms of being able to directly brief the Congressional delegation on the key issues and demands of our campaign and in providing updates on a series of meetings we have had over this past year with the Irish and British Governments and all the main political parties.
‘Obviously the delegation were aware of the Ballymurphy Massacre but were clearly shocked at the factual detail we were able to provide surrounding the deliberate killings. They were equally shocked on learning that there has never been an proper investigation into the massacre other than the Royal Military Police ‘investigation’ at the time which sought to vilify our loved ones labeling them as gunmen and gunwomen. The fact that this same regiment, including some of the same Para’s, went on to murder 14 more unarmed civilians in Derry the following January was not lost on the Congressional delegation who drew comparisons.
‘We focused on the need for a complete and unqualified retraction by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the lies and misinformation propagated at the time about our dead relatives and for their names to be immediately cleared. We stressed need for the truth and that this could only be achieved via an international independent investigation into the massacre.
John Taggert added;
‘We are very pleased at the outcome of our meeting in which the members of Congress saw the Ballymurphy Massacre as a watershed case that must be addressed, and committed their total support and assistance to us in taking forward our campaign for the truth to be finally told.
‘Congressman Neal told us that yesterday the delegation met with the British Secretary of State and had raised the Ballymurphy Massacre with him along with a number of other key cases. In response the British government raised the cost of inquiries and investigations to which we replied that the true nature of the cost is in concealing the truth – truth costs nothing, cover-ups cost millions. We asked that they continue to raise the key issues and demands of the families with the British Government – a commitment that they gladly gave.
Concluding Mark Thompson said;
‘Throughout the years the US Congress has played an important and pivotal role in raising human rights violations by the British government in Ireland not least through Congressional Hearings. We discussed how this Congressional work should continue and the broader issues of an independent international truth commission in which numerous other families from across the community can also obtain truth, the Eames/Bradley recommendations, specifically the proposed Legacy Commission, and the recently announced consultation by Shaun Woodward MP into the 31 recommendations.
‘Relatives for Justice also emphasised the need for the British Government not to control or drive any truth process but rather be subject to it. We noted the positive role of Irish America and the Congress in the past in ensuring processes of impartiality concerning these issues, not least the chairing of the political talks by Senator George Mitchell, and encouraged ongoing input around securing independence in dealing with the past.
‘Relatives for Justice agreed to continue to liaise with the Congressional delegation with a view to exploring the how best Congress can advance all the issues discussed and of how they can play a more focused role in supporting the Ballymurphy Massacre Campaign.’