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British soldiers accused of hindering Ballymurphy Massacre inquest with ‘wall of silence’

BRITISH soldiers have been accused of putting up a “virtual wall of silence” which is hindering an inquest into the fatal shooting of 10 people in West Belfast nearly 50 years ago.

An entire company of the Parachute Regiment was shamed during this week’s hearing.

Lawyers for the families of those killed said that very few of its soldiers had attended the hearing.

Last month members of the support company 2 Para were accused of conspiring on Facebook by encouraging former soldiers not to comply with the Ballymurphy inquest.

A Belfast court is examining the shooting of 10 unarmed civilians who died as British soliders went on a three-day killing spree in West Belfast in August 1971.

Support company 2 were present when Father Hugh Mullan and Frank Quinn were shot dead on August 9 1971 and it is believed soldiers from the unit discharged between 60 and 70 live rounds.

Very few have taken part in the hearings which started in November last year. This week two former members of the group gave evidence using code names of M222 and M88.

Karen Quinlivan QC put it to witness M222 that he was “one of very few soldiers from support company” who has attended the inquests.

She accused the soldiers of putting up a “virtual wall of silence” which has stymied the hearings.

Ms Quinlivan suggested that they had been advised not to co-operate with the inquests over social media.

He denied the allegations, saying: “I am an old soldier, I don’t even have a mobile phone.”

M88 said that he had no recollection of events despite a statement taken soon after the events stating he was involved in an internment arrest.

Neither soldier was able to recall firing live ammunition or witnessing the shooting of civilians.

The inquest is set to continue later this month.

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