Ballymurphy mural unveiled in place of Adams tribute as families seek truth

Ballymurphy mural unveiled in place of Adams tribute as families seek truth

LESS than a month ago it was revealed as the site of a Gerry Adams tribute – a sign of republicans’ faith in their veteran leader as police questioned him over the haunting murder of Jean McConville.

But now a small section of wall in west Belfast has been repainted to show a very different message – Troubles victims’ anger at the British Government.

Families of the 11 civilians killed in Ballymurphy by British Army paratroopers in August 1971 gathered today to unveil their mural.

It shows a woman representing their struggle alongside the words: “This woman wants the truth”.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is seen brandishing a document labelled “top secret” and captioned: “This woman wants to hide it!”

John Teggart, whose father was killed in the massacre, said the painting was created after Mr Adams asked on Twitter for his mural to be taken down and replaced with one commemorating Ballymurphy.

He added that the decision to attack Ms Villiers in their mural was taken after she “insulted” victims’ families by rejecting their proposal for a fresh inquiry into the killings.

“We feel that the Conservative-led British Government has treated us in a disrespectful and shameful manner,” Mr Teggart told The Irish Post.

“We have demonstrated flexibility in that our proposed independent panel is not a costly and lengthy public inquiry.

“Our panel, which would investigate the causes, context and circumstances of the Ballymurphy Massacre, is a tried, tested and cost-effective model. We feel That Theresa Villiers’ decision was an insult at the highest level.”

Ms Villiers rejected calls to review evidence surrounding the killings because she said it would not provide answers that were not already in the public domain.

The Ballymurphy families were left “shocked and outraged” by her decision, which they said would prevent them from clearing their loved ones’ names.

The soldiers who killed the civilians, 10 of whom were shot dead and one of whom died of a heart attack, claimed they came under attack and were returning fire. The victims included a Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight.

However, Mr Teggart said the families are now considering a legal challenge to Ms Villiers’ decision not to follow Ireland’s lead in backing calls for a fresh inquiry into the massacre.

Earlier this year the Taoiseach said the Irish Government would support their proposed review, which would mirror the process undertaken to investigate the Hillsborough disaster.

The mural’s unveiling also comes a week after the families called for the British Army to reveal whether any of the paratroopers involved in the incident also played a role in Bloody Sunday.

The infamous Derry killing of 14 unarmed civil rights protesters was carried out seven months later by soldiers from the same regiment.