Former soldier challenged over evidence to Belfast shooting inquest

A former soldier has been challenged over evidence he gave to an inquest into the 1971 shooting of 10 people in Belfast.

The man, who has been granted anonymity and is referred to as C4, told the inquest that he saw Paratroopers shooting civilians on the evening of August 9 1971, when Father Hugh Mullan and Francis Quinn were killed.

C4 was then a 24-year-old serving member of the Royal Corps of Signals who was originally from England, and had married a woman from the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast.

He was in the area on leave during the shootings.

Undated Ballymurphy Massacre Committee handout file photos of (left to right top row) Joseph Corr, Danny Taggart, Eddie Doherty, Father Hugh Mullan, Frank Quinn, Paddy McCarthy, (left to right, bottom row) Joan Connolly, John McKerr, Noel Philips, John Laverty and Joseph Murphy, who were all gunshot victims of the Ballymurphy massacre in west Belfast in 1971 (PA Archive)

C4 said an Army Major asked him not to testify at the original inquest in 1972.

He also said that an Army Captain threatened his life, that he was called a traitor and members of the Parachute Regiment raided his home and assaulted him.

C4 said he was told court martials had taken place over the matter.

He told the inquest on Wednesday that he spoke out about what happened at Ballymurphy because he regarded it as murder, and wanted to support the families of the victims to get justice.

A lawyer for the Ministry of Defence challenged C4 on his evidence, telling him it was a serious allegation to say that a Captain had threatened his life, and asked him for more details about the court martials.

C4 responded saying he had made a complaint to a then Army base at Henry Taggart Memorial Hall, and had been told action would be taken.

The three-day series of events, which has become known as the Ballymurphy Massacre, started on August 9 as the British Army moved into republican strongholds to arrest IRA suspects in the wake of the introduction by the Stormont administration of the controversial policy of internment without trial.

A new inquest into the shootings is being held at Belfast Coroner’s Court.

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