Boris Johnson makes formal apology in House of Commons over Ballymurphy Massacre

Boris Johnson makes formal apology in House of Commons over Ballymurphy Massacre

BORIS JOHNSON has issued a formal apology in the House of Commons to the families of the Ballymurphy massacre victims.

Speaking at the opening of Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson read out the names of the 10 people killed in shootings involving British soldiers in west Belfast in August 1971.

He then went on to apologise “for how the investigations were handled” and for the pain suffered by the families of those killed.

"On behalf of successive governments and to put on the record in this house I would like to say sorry to their families for how the investigations were handled and for the pain they have endured since their campaign began almost five decades ago,” Johnson said.

"No apology can lessen their lasting pain I hope they take some comfort in the answers they have secured and in knowing that this has renewed the Government’s determination to ensure in future that other families can find answers with less distress and delay.”

The apology came in the wake of the criticism faced by the UK Prime Minister for not previously addressing the outcome of an inquest into the Ballymurphy massacre in the Commons.

The Coroner Mrs Justice Keegan determined that the 10 people who died that day in August 1971 were “entirely innocent”.

A mother-of-eight and a Catholic priest were among those killed.

She also found nine of the 10 had been killed by soldiers and that the use of lethal force was not justified.

The families of those killed at Ballymurphy had angrily rejected Johnson’s letter of apology in which he expressed personal sorrow for the “terrible hurt that has been caused” by the deaths.

Johnson went on to pledge to introduce legislation to “address the legacy of the Troubles” within the current session of Parliament.

"We are committed to introduce legislation in this session to address the legacy of the troubles in Northern Ireland and to introducing a fair package for veterans to protect them, as I’ve said many times before, from unfair vexatious litigation when no new evidence has been brought forward,” he said.

Simon Hoare, Conservative MP and chair the Northern Ireland Select Committee welcomed the apology.

“It’s never going to bring back loved ones it’s never going to heal to the point of invisibility wounds and sadness, those are going to be as fresh today as they were 50 years ago," he said.

“But I just hope there is a scintilla of comfort the victims' families can take from the words of the Prime Minister.”

SDLP MP Claire Hanna, meanwhile, told BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback: “I am glad the families have the opportunity to hear those words.
“ I think it shouldn’t have taken so long.”