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Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest Ballymurphy soldier tells inquiry he ran through gunfire

THE Ballymurphy inquest today heard claims from a former paratrooper that he ran through gunfire to supply fellow soldiers with ammunition during shootings in Belfast nearly 50 years ago.

The inquest is looking into the killings of 10 people shot dead by British troops in August 1971 just hours after the introduction of internment.

Witness M249 was giving testimony when he claimed that during five tours of the north of Ireland he had not once fired his own weapon.

He told the court there had been sporadic gunfire and disorder around Henry Taggart Hall on the day of the killings as tensions escalated over British government policy which was seen as targeting Belfast’s Catholic minority.

M249 claimed two shots were fired at his patrol soon after he had supported soldiers carrying out an arrest at the Springfield Park area of Ballymurphy.

He was later on reserve inside the Vere Foster School watching television to find out what was happening in the area.

The former para told the inquest a bullet came through a window which he assumed must have come from the Ballymurphy area. 

M249 recalled shots being fired as he made his way to his platoon to provide them ammunition. At no time did he recall seeing a gunman.

The Ballymurphy Massacre is known as Belfast’s Bloody Sunday and is believed to have been carried out by some of the same soldiers from the 1st batallion of the Parachute Regiment that were on duty during the Derry killings.

Families are campaigning for justice for their loved ones in the face of smears and a state cover-up with key documents “being lost.”

At around 8.30pm on August 9 a man was shot in Springfield Park and lay wounded as British soldiers stood and watched. Father Hugh Mullan told troops he was going to help the wounded man.

Despite holding a white baby grow he was shot twice and killed. Nineteen-year-old Frank Quinn tried to help Fr Mullan and was himself shot in the head.

Among others killed included Danny Teggert whose body was riddled with 14 bullets.

Joan Connolly was also killed after being shot in the head while searching for her children.

The killings continued the following day including 20-year-old John Laverty who was shot in the back.

On August 11, youth worker Paddy McCarthy suffered a hand injury after a Red Cross flag was shot out of his hand.

He later suffered a heart attack and died after British soldiers allegedly carried out a mock execution.

The inquest continues.

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