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Ballymurphy massacre inquest hears from survivor

AN INQUEST into the killings of 10 people by British soldiers in Northern Ireland almost 50 years ago heard testimony today from a survivor who still feels responsible for the deaths of two men who came to his aid.

Bobby Clarke, now 85, was shot in the back as he tried to move children out of the way as people “fled for their lives” when paratroopers opened fire near Springfield Park in the Ballymurphy district of west Belfast at the start of a three-day killing spree in August 1971.

He told today’s inquest in Belfast: “Two people lost their lives coming to help me while I was trying to help those who could not help themselves.”

Mr Clarke, the first to be shot in what has come to be called the Ballymurphy massacre, said he had been living with the pain for 47 years. He explained how soldiers had been “tracking” him with their rifles as he took a baby across the field to safety and again when he returned and was shot.

Catholic priest Fr Hugh Mullan and Francis Quinn were shot dead as they rushed to help the injured Mr Clarke. Fr Mullan had been waving a white flag. Nineteen-year-old Mr Quinn was trying to assist the fallen priest.

Today’s hearing also heard from witness Francis Corr, who told the court that nobody else in the field was armed apart from three soldiers who opened fire.

“No-one who was on that field had any weapons, no-one was a threat to anyone, and that’s God’s honest truth,” he said.

The massacre inquiry has been hindered by a loss of vital evidence and delays after funding was denied by the Democratic Unionist Party.

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