An examination of the recent ruling by Mrs Justice Keegan on the deaths in Ballymurphy in August 1971 as a result of a riot and firefight between the IRA and the Army.
Very few outside of Ulster and, sadly, all too many inside it, who have been brainwashed by an Irish Republican/Roman Catholic dominated media into believing their perverted distortions of truth and the rewriting of the history of the ‘Ulster Troubles’, swallow without any hesitation the story being put out about the shooting of civilians by the British Army back in the midst of a riot in the Roman Catholic Ballymurphy area of West Belfast in August 1971.
Anti-British propaganda has poured forth and has continued to pour forth, since the verdict of a court case examining the events was announced on 12th May 2021.
Here is a sample.
“Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill tells the media that it is a ‘day of truth’ for the Ballymurphy families. The rulings, she says, have “laid-bare for all to see now that the British Forces murdered their family members, their innocent family members. . . . They’ve always known that, the Ballymurphy community have known that, the wider community has known that and now the whole world can see that is the case,” the Sinn Féin vice president continued.”
It is never ‘a day of truth’ when Michelle O’Neill opens her mouth. Out of it will come the biased utterances of one born and bred and suckled as an inveterate hater of all things British.
1. Firstly, let me ask, why were thousands gathered on the streets during this firefight initiated by the IRA?
They must have been either possessed of a stupid interest in the deadly exchanges and blindly unaware of the danger in which they placed themselves for the IRA was using the civilians as cover. The IRA knew who they were shooting at. Their targets all wore uniforms which clearly marked them. The Army did not have such information about their enemies. They were all wearing civilian clothing and mingling amongst civilians, such as the ‘stupid sightseers’!
Then there were those undoubtedly who were there to render what aid they could to the IRA. It was common for civilians to move in, under cover of giving aid to an IRA man shot in such a firefight, in order to strip the wounded or even dead terrorist of all weapons or any material such as a mask, which would give proof of his terrorist activity and thus justify his being targeted. As soon as that was done, up would go the cry: “He was only out buying a loaf of bread for his poor old granny, God love him!!”
They learned that tactic from their friends the Palestinians!
2. Next, it must be said that Republican propaganda has made sceptics of most Protestant observers.
Some news reporters over the years have been sceptical as well of the manifold claims of Irish Republicans. But sadly, they rarely have had the boldness to do more than hint at the deceit and falsehoods that trip from the lips of IRA spokesmen and sympathisers. Most certainly the modern reporter seems to be a total acolyte of the IRA propaganda machine. The fawning interviews given over the years of terrorism to those putting on a mere show of innocence and suffering has become almost a daily event. They have been stomach-churning to those with any regard for the truth!
3. The central claim of Mrs Justice Keegan in her findings is most astonishing!
What Mrs Justice Keegan, who is a Roman Catholic Judge, said at the conclusion of her Coroner’s Court findings was: “What is very clear, is that all of the deceased in the series of inquests were entirely innocent of any wrongdoing on the day in question.”
Given the circumstances of the events in Ballymurphy on that day, surely those on the street were essentially guilty of being part of a lawless assembly? Anyone who was “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing” would have hastened from the scene of rioting and murderous disorder. Anyone who persisted in being present upon the streets when the Army was defending itself from IRA snipers firing from many positions, often from behind the ranks of the civilians on the streets, cannot be considered as being “entirely innocent”. Rather, at the very least, they were guilty of recklessly endangering their own lives. It must also be considered that they were aiding and abetting a murderous attack upon the lawful custodians of law and order.
If there was rioting, and there was and that involving hundreds, male and female and of all ages, how can the Judge say of those in the midst of the riot that they were “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing?” If included in the riotous assembly then they were no innocent victim of Army violence!
No, a blanket declaration of innocence does not fit with what was really going on that day. I feel that such a statement must be seen, at least as a naive summary of events. Some may think that it was an attempt to white-wash a pro-IRA manifestation of terrorist violence and an attempt to besmirch the British Army, so long hated by Irish Republicans.
4. Could it be the case that the court was misled by witnesses?
The whole trial process consisted of abject denials by all. It would appear that little account was taken of Army witnesses.
The Judge acknowledged that there was some IRA activity in the area, and she was satisfied the military were justified in using force. Other statements made by Mrs Justice Keegan, as reported by the BBC, while delivering her findings over the course of more than two hours, included these: She said the “deaths took place during Northern Ireland’s Troubles in a ‘highly charged and difficult environment’. The killings happened over three days immediately following the introduction of internment – the arrest and detention of paramilitary suspects without trial. She noted that during that time there was widespread disorder. Across Belfast alone on 9 and 10 August 1971, it was recorded that there were approximately 12 explosions, 59 shooting incidents, 17 reported deaths, 25 reported injuries, 13 incidents of rioting, 18 reports of arson and other reports of civil disorder of various kinds.
Mrs Justice Keegan also acknowledged the Army was coming under fire from gunmen in the area at the time, but she concluded the use of force against the deceased was ‘clearly disproportionate’.”
That final conclusion seems so at odds with her acknowledgement of the degree of violence, rioting and shootings taking place across Belfast. I fear it simply displays a bias against the Army.
Mrs Justice Keegan said there was ‘some IRA activity’ in the area, and she was satisfied the military were justified in using force, yet she said a British soldier, known as M3, fired in response to a petrol bomber, but the “firing of his weapon was disproportionate to the risk posed to him”.
How can that be correct when at that time a petrol bomb had been declared a lethal weapon? Here is a report from over 12 months before the Ballymurphy riot. “In April 1970, Ian Freeland, the British Army’s overall commander in Northern Ireland, announced that anyone throwing petrol bombs would be shot dead if they did not heed a warning from soldiers.”
It would appear that the soldier whose actions are dismissed as ‘disproportionate’ was but acting according to orders!
Here is another quote from Mrs Justice Keegan’s ruling: “None of the deceased were claimed as members of the IRA, none had military trappings at their funerals and their death notices highlighted no association.”
Whatever they may be, the IRA are not stupid! It soon became apparent that the concealing of the IRA involvement of those shot in riots added to the opportunities to slander the Army and Police!
Surely an observer could be forgiven for believing that in this trial every attempt was being made to make out that the Army was incompetent and kept shooting the innocent bystanders who just happened to be innocuously milling around without any evil intent in the middle of the battlefield.
This is the biased view foisted upon the world, aided by our local news media!
5. There was another incident in Ardoyne earlier in 1971 when an IRA man was shot and of course widely declared to be a poor innocent.
His name was Barney Watt. In a report in the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ of April 27th, 2017, we read the following.
“The fatal shooting of a Belfast man by British soldiers in 1971 was unjustified, Belfast Coroner’s Court has ruled. Coroner Joe McCrisken dismissed claims from the soldiers that Barney Watt was throwing an explosive device when he was shot. Following a four-day inquest in Belfast Mr McCrisken also said he did not believe that the 28-year-old had been a member of the IRA.
Soldiers had claimed that he was shot while throwing a device at military personnel. However, Mr McCrisken ruled: “I am satisfied, based upon the evidence available to me at inquest, that Barney Watt was not the man described by the soldiers holding the explosive device. Based upon the evidence presented at inquest the use of lethal force against Barney Watt by military personnel was not justified.”
The evidence upon which this decision was based was largely supplied by family, friends, neighbours and Republican activists.
He also stated, and this is most amazing, “He was satisfied that Mr Watt had taken part in riots and that he was a ‘willing participant’ in the riot on the night he was killed.”
Now who could square that circle? He was a ‘willing’ rioter on the occasion of him being shot but he had done nothing worthy of being shot!
That, dear friends is the perverted logic with which we in Northern Ireland have had to live for some 50 years and which we have watched in dismay as the world at large has swallowed it all without a cough!
Providence has a habit of exposing the deceits of men. Before this coroner McCrisken was born, Barney Watt’s IRA funeral was on the television news. It’s pretty accurately described in this New York Times article linked here: Five Civilians Killed in Ulster
The archived report states: “Twelve men in military‐style dress, wearing arm bands, black berets and army boots, flanked a hearse followed by Catholic mourners. A volley of shots—traditional mark of respect by the illegal Irish Republican Army—rang out as the cortege left for the cemetery.”
There is a video on the internet of the funeral which shows that it was a funeral of one in the IRA.
It may be seen here: British Pathe film of funeral
Here is a group of screenshots taken from that video.
Barney Watt was given an IRA send off, a Republican funeral reserved for one ‘killed on active service’! So much for Roman Catholic Coroner McCrisken’s assurances of Barney Watt not being in the IRA!
Protestants have every right to consider the whole judicial process surrounding these enquiries and the verdicts on the deaths as but another example of clever pro-Republican propaganda. Surely there is just cause for a questioning of these declarations of universal innocence of all shot on that day of riot?
In the midst of this welter of lies and counter-lies, the Christian must turn to the Word of Truth to find comfort, support and hope.
There we discover that the ‘Ballymurphy Syndrome’ is not new!
“How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall [shall ye be, and as] a tottering fence. They only consult to cast [him] down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him,” Psalm 62:3-5.
“Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief [is] in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert,” Psalm 28:3-4.
“[The words] of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war [was] in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet [were] they drawn swords. Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee,” Psalm 55:21-23.
I might say that to these verses many more could be added.
The Spirit of wickedness and of evil men set forth in these verses is all too evident in Ulster. And those love the Lord and love TRUTH have had to content with this duplicity, this hypocrisy and this cruel pretence for many a year.
I commend to you my studies in Psalm 2, presently featured on the main page of ‘The Burning Bush’. (www.ivanfoster.org). There you will hear what the Bible has to say about the coming wickedness and perversion of men as the rebellion against God universally increases, which finally will bring down God’s wrath on this world, and so end this age.
The Lord bless you and thank you for listening and I trust you have benefitted at least in some measure from what it is I have said.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
14th May 2021