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Ballymurphy massacre: Boris Johnson writes letter of apology


Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written a letter of apology to the families of the Ballymurphy massacre.

Mr Johnson had faced criticism for the families for releasing an apology via a statement, rather than delivering himself in parliament.

This task was left to Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, with Mr Johnson’s letter sent afterwards to the family.

In his letter, Mr Johnson said: “I unequivocally accept the findings of the coroner.

“Those who died over that terrible period were innocent of any wrongdoing. The events at Ballymurphy should never have happened.”

“You should never have had to experience such grief at the loss of your loved ones and such distress in your subsequent quest for truth.

“The duty of the State is to hold itself to the highest standard and that requires us to recognise the hurt and agony caused when we fall short of those standards.

“For what happened on those terrible few days in Ballymurphy, and for what the families have gone through since you began your brave and dignified campaign almost five decades ago, I am truly sorry.”

He added: “I recognise that no words of apology can make up for the lasting pain that you have endured. Thank you for the dignity and strength you have shown.”

In Mr Lewis’ earlier statement, he put on record an official government apology to the families.

He paid tribute to the “great patience” in which the families conducted themselves during their “determined campaign” which has lasted for almost 50 years.

"The Prime Minister is writing personally to the families and expressed deep regret to the First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland yesterday, and has apologised unreservedly on behalf of the state."

He added that the findings of the Ballymurphy inquest were clear, “those who died were entirely innocent of wrongdoing, events at Ballymurphy should never have happened.

"The families of those who were killed should never have had to experience the grief and trauma of that lost. They should not have had to wait nearly five decades for judgement this week nor be compelled to relive that terrible time in August 1971 again and again and again in their long distressing quest for truth.”

Reflecting on the thousands of lives ruined during the Troubles, Mr Lewis said the majority of those killed were innocent victims like on the streets of Ballymurphy.

He said the vast majority of those serving in the armed forces in Northern Ireland did so with “great dignity and professionalism” but that it was “clear that in some cases the security forces and the army made terrible errors too.”

Mr Lewis said there was no doubt that the events of Ballymurphy also fuelled further violence during the early years of the Troubles.

“The government profoundly regrets and is truly sorry for these events, and how investigations after these terrible events were handled, and for the additional pain the families have had to endure in their fight to clear the names of their loved ones.”

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