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Cars parade through Ballymurphy to cheers and applause after coroner’s ruling

·3 min read

A cavalcade of cars has passed through Ballymurphy thanking the community for its support over the past 50 years.

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”.

The occupants of the vehicles waved white flags with the word “innocent” on them.

Locals lined the streets cheering and clapping, and banged bin lids on the footpaths as the cars made their way past.

Banging bin lids on the streets was was done during the Troubles to warn people the Army was in the area.

The cars passed by the houses of some of the victims.

The families of those killed have not been able to hold a large gathering due to Covid-19 public health restrictions.

But the families voiced their appreciation for all those who supported them through their campaign and joined them on the streets on Tuesday evening to celebrate the outcome of the inquest.

Carmel Quinn, whose brother John Laverty was shot, said: “I want to thank our whole community in Ballymurphy because in early days of the Troubles they stuck with the families and helped us get through.

“Now we’ve got truth and now we’re going to seek justice.”

Liam Quinn, who was holding a poster of his brother Frank Quinn, said: “I’d just like to thank the people of Ballymurphy for all your support and everything you’ve done for us.

“Thank you very, very much.

“I love you all.”

Ballymurphy inquest
Briege Voyle, daughter of victim Joan Connolly, releases doves in the Ballymurphy area (Liam McBurney/PA)
Ballymurphy inquest
The families of the victims and supporters waving white flags with the words ‘innocent’ on them (Liam McBurney/PA)

Pat Quinn, another brother of Frank Quinn, said: “I’d like to thank everyone in Ballymurphy, I’m not originally from here but now I’m adopted.”

Briege Voyle, daughter of Joan Connolly, said the families could not thank the locals enough for their support.

“We will be praying for you every night,” she said.

“”Without you spreading the word for us we wouldn’t be standing here today.

“It’s not like in 1971 when they told lies on us.

“But today they told the truth and you’ll spread it for us.

“Our loved ones are innocent.”

She released a number of doves on behalf of the families.

Ballymurphy inquest
One of the cavalcade with a white flag bearing victim, Edward Doherty’s picture and the word ‘innocent’ (Liam McBurney/PA)
Ballymurphy inquest
People from Ballymurphy bang lids on the ground as a cavalcade of cars pass (Liam McBurney/PA)

Earlier there were jubilant scenes outside Belfast Coroner’s Court as the families of those shot in Ballymurphy emerged to cheers from supporters.

Mrs Justice Keegan ruled out any paramilitary involvement by any of those killed in Ballymurphy, and described them as “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing on the day in question”.

The Army was found to be responsible for nine of the 10 deaths in August 1971, which included a mother of eight and a Catholic priest.