UK News Johnson holds talks with Martin over Ballymurphy and Northern Ireland Protocol
Findings from fresh Ballymurphy shootings inquests to be published
Ten people, including a mother of eight and a Catholic priest, were killed in disputed shootings involving the Army in west Belfast in August 1971.A mother of eight and a Catholic priest were among those who died in August 1971 in events which have become known locally as the Ballymurphy Massacre.
The Prime Minister and his Irish counterpart have held talks on their differing approaches to Northern Ireland’s troubled past.
Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheal Martin discussed the landmark inquest findings on the deaths of 10 people killed in shootings in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, in 1971.
The meeting at Chequers also saw the leaders discuss contentious post-Brexit trading arrangements that have created new economic barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Wide-ranging & constructive discussions withtoday on British-Irish relations, including the long struggle for justice by the Ballymurphy families.
Ballymurphy victims’ families warn against prevention of historic prosecutions
John Teggart, whose father Danny was shot by a soldier in August 1971, said an amnesty would deny families like his the ‘opportunity for justice’.The Queen’s Speech on Tuesday did not contain a Bill on legacy investigations, but a proposed new system is expected to focus on “information recovery and reconciliation” rather than criminal prosecutions which are unlikely to succeed.
We also reaffirmed both governments’ commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and its institutions.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD)
Following the meeting, Mr Martin tweeted: “Wide-ranging & constructive discussions with @BorisJohnson today on British-Irish relations, including the long struggle for justice by the Ballymurphy families.
Cars parade through Ballymurphy to cheers and applause after coroner’s ruling
The occupants of the vehicles waved flags with the word ‘innocent’ on them.The convoy made its way through the streets on Tuesday evening beeping horns, hours after a coroner ruled that the 10 people killed in the west Belfast shootings involving British soldiers in Ballymurphy in August 1971 were “entirely innocent”.
“We also reaffirmed both governments’ commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and its institutions.”
On Tuesday in Belfast, coroner Mrs Justice Keegan ruled that those who died at Ballymurphy 50 years ago were “entirely innocent”.
She found that nine of the 10 had been killed by soldiers, and the use of lethal force was not justified.
Friday’s meeting between the UK and Irish leaders also came amid controversy around the UK Government’s reported plan to introduce legislation to prevent further prosecutions for Troubles crimes committed before the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
Government 'truly sorry' for events at Ballymurphy where 10 innocent people killed
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis made the apology in the Commons, telling MPs that Boris Johnson would be writing personally to the victims' families.The UK government has said it is "truly sorry" for the events at Ballymurphy in Northern Ireland 50 years ago in which 10 innocent people were killed during the Troubles.
Video: PM establishes COVID inquiry (Sky News)
Relatives of those killed at Ballymurphy had criticised a letter of apology Mr Johnson sent to them on Thursday for failing to describe the shootings at Ballymurphy in 1971 as a “massacre”.
The Downing Street statement about Friday’s meeting with Mr Martin did use that term in relation to the killings.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The leaders reflected on the coroner’s report into the Ballymurphy massacre published this week. They agreed it was profoundly sad that the families of victims had to wait so long for the truth.
“The Prime Minister restated the UK Government’s commitment to finding a way forward in Northern Ireland that delivers for victims, aids truth recovery and helps communities in the future.
“They agreed on the importance of working together to uphold the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and to maintain smooth trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Ballymurphy family say Johnson ‘does not care’ about people in Northern Ireland
Families of those killed in 1971 reacted angrily on Thursday after the Government delivered an apology.Families of those who were killed in 1971 reacted angrily on Thursday after the Government delivered an apology for the deaths of 10 innocent civilians in Belfast 50 years ago. The relatives said the statement should have been delivered by the Prime Minister.
“The leaders resolved to continue to work together in our fight against coronavirus and to closely share information in order to enable a better recovery.”
Mr Martin has previously characterised any move to introduce an amnesty on Troubles prosecution as a potential “breach of trust”, as it would torpedo a key mechanism to reinvestigate cold cases agreed by the UK and Irish governments and main Northern Ireland parties in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.
New Brexit checks on goods arriving at ports across the island of Ireland from Great Britain have affected trade.
With the Northern Ireland Protocol retaining the region as part of the EU for goods checks, unionists and loyalists have expressed anger at what they regard as a border in the Irish Sea and separation from the rest of the UK.
Protests have been ongoing across Northern Ireland, with some resulting in serious disorder last month.
Stormont powersharing not at risk under my leadership, says Poots .
The incoming DUP leader said he had ‘no intention whatsoever’ of endangering devolution.Mr Poots reiterated his determination to get rid of Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol but said he had “no intention whatsoever” of endangering devolution.