Ballymurphy inquest: Major 'uncomfortable' about dead body

By Will Leitch

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image captionTen people were killed in the shootings in Ballymurphy in August 1971

A former Parachute Regiment major has said he is "uncomfortable" that a woman's body was allowed to lie in a field for four to five hours after she was shot dead.

Soldier M45 commanded B Company 2 Para based on Belfast's Springfield Road.

Joan Connolly, a mother of eight, was shot and killed in an area known as the Manse opposite the Henry Taggart base.

The 44-year-old's body was not recovered until the early hours of the following morning.

The Ballymurphy Inquest is examining the deaths of 10 people in west Belfast in August 1971.

M45 was asked by a barrister for Mrs Connolly's family if he was uncomfortable that her body had been allowed to lie for so long.

"In retrospect, yes," he replied.

Asked why he was uncomfortable, he answered: "Humanity, I suppose."

image captionSoldiers from the Parachute Regiment were based at Henry Taggart Army base

Who were the victims?

  • Father Hugh Mullan, 38, and Francis Quinn, 19, were shot in an area of open ground behind Springfield Park
  • Daniel Teggart, 44, Joan Connolly, 44, Noel Phillips, 19, and Joseph Murphy, 41, were shot near the Henry Taggart Army base near Springfield Park
  • John Laverty, 20, and Joseph Corr, 43, were shot at separate points at the top of Whiterock Road
  • Edward Doherty, 31, was shot at the corner of Brittons Parade and Whiterock Road
  • John McKerr, 49, was shot outside the old Corpus Christi Parish

Earlier, M45 had denied to a barrister for the family of Joseph Murphy that his "soldiers acted in ill-disciplined, unlawful action" in fatally shooting four people and injuring several others.

He did accept that it was possible that his soldiers might have made a mistake in shooting Mr Murphy.

Completing his third day of evidence M45, who was screened from the public, indicated to the coroner that he had found the inquest an uncomfortable process.

"I still find it difficult to understand that it's inquisitorial and yet I appear to be being attacked all the time." he said.

Ten people died in the Ballymurphy area over the first three days after the introduction of internment without trial, six of them on the first day.

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