Led by the families of the massacred, over 1000 relatives, neighbours and supporters defiantly snaked their way through the streets of the Greater Ballymurphy area in west Belfast on the Ballymurphy Massacre March for Truth on Sunday past, August 12.
Joined by a strong contingent of éirígí activists, the march took time to pass, and thus bear witness to, the numerous locations where 11 unarmed civilians were brutally murdered by the infamous Parachute Regiment of the British Army as internment was introduced in the Six Counties in August 1971. Among those massacred was a mother of eight, a father of thirteen, a teenage father of one and a catholic priest.
In the aftermath of the massacre, those torn from their families, which included 57 children, were smeared by the forces of the British state and an ever compliant media. Branded an assortment of gunmen, gunwomen and rioters, the victims, having already been robbed of their lives were robbed of their innocence as well.
The families of the dead, after years of torment, harassment, struggle and sacrifice, built a campaign befitting the memory of their loved ones. Some forty years after the event, the campaign goes from strength to strength.
In the week preceding the march, the campaign held a week long photo exhibition and nine showings of their play, ‘Ballymurphy: The Aftermath’. The march, however, was the community response to the British government’s recent disgraceful denial of the families’ demand for a public enquiry into the murders.
Addressing the large crowd that had gathered at the conclusion of the march, Eileen McKeown, daughter of Joseph Corr, one of those murdered, encapsulated the mood of the community, and indeed country, when she warned the British government that, "The Irish have long memories.”
Urging the British Prime Minister David Cameron to “address the legacy of the British forces in Ireland”, Eileen cautioned against prevarication, stating that if she was “not there the day that you and those you represent run out of room, my children, my children’s children, and aye if need be, my children’s children’s children will be there to see you and those you represent with nowhere left to run!”
Speaking from the march, John McCusker, éirígí's Lower Falls representative commended the Ballymurphy Massacre families of their fight for the truth.
“The Ballymurphy Massacre case pits the worst of the occupier against the best of the occupied. Whilst the British government covers for its murderers, frustrates its victims and obstructs the pursuit of truth, the families bare their souls and offer support and solidarity for all victims in their quest for justice.
“This week I have attended the exhibition, I watched the play and attended the march all of which has been heart wrenching. Having become more familiar with some of the families in recent times, I have found myself in awe at their courage, honesty and dignity. The campaign necessitates a constant reliving of the most intimate and harrowing events of the families’ lives. They are forced, exhibition after exhibition, play after play and speech after speech, to relive the murders of their loved ones and the legacy they were left with.”
John continued, “This, however, can be brought to an end and for this the families demand:
“In the aftermath of Ballymurphy, éirígí pledges its full support to the families of the Ballymurphy Massacred and to their campaign for truth. We offer our services and resources to the campaign and encourage everyone to follow suit, no matter how much or how little it might be.
“We join Eileen McKeown in her cry – Free the truth!”
For more information on the campaign and how may assist it please visit the Ballymurphy Massacre site at www.ballymurphymassacre.com
“If you strike at, imprison, or kill us, out of our prisons or graves we will still evoke a spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps, raise a force that will destroy you! We defy you! Do your worst!”
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