Ballymurphy relative voices disgust at ex-Army chief’s inquest evidence
The sister of a man killed in disputed circumstances in Belfast in 1971 has expressed disgust at evidence given by the Army’s former chief of staff to an inquest.
Carmel Quinn’s brother John Laverty was shot on the Whiterock Road in the early hours of August 11 1971.
He was one of 10 people shot in the Ballymurphy area between August 9-11 of that year.
General Sir Mike Jackson appeared at the inquest on Thursday to recall his memories of the incident. He was then a captain in the Parachute Regiment serving in Belfast.
He gave evidence about a newspaper report which labelled Mr Laverty and Joseph Corr, who was also shot and died, as gunmen.
Both their families have refuted that they were gunmen and the inquest heard no weapons were found on or near them.
Sir Mike told the inquest he accepts it was likely he was a captain quoted by the newspaper, and said the information had been fed to him by soldiers on the ground.
“In retrospect, of course I should have said ‘alleged’,” Sir Mike told the inquest.
He also described as “preposterous” a suggestion that there had been an attempt to “cover up” the shooting of Mr Corr and Mr Laverty, saying the British Army “don’t do conspiracies”.
Ms Quinn said she found his evidence “totally confusing”.
“Our John was 20-years-old when he was murdered by his soldiers,” she said speaking outside the inquest.
“They came into Ballymurphy to shock and stun the community, they murdered innocent people and they walked away with complete impunity, and as for the British, the British don’t do conspiracies, yes they do, they have done it constantly throughout this conflict.”
Ms Quinn added: “They were two civilians, they were unarmed. I am really angry at his evidence today, really upset.”
Mr Corr’s widow received hate mail from his former workmates at Shorts after he was labelled a gunman.
His daughter Eileen McKeown said: “If he had of put ‘allegedly shot dead’ in that article at that time, my mummy might not have got the hate mail she got from my daddy’s workmates, she got a letter which said ‘may your sub-human husband and his pals roast in hell’.”