Northern Ireland

Ballymurphy Inquest: Teenage brothers 'beaten as man lay dying'

The Ballymurphy victims
Image caption An inquest is examining the deaths of 10 people killed in shootings at Ballymurphy in August 1971

Two brothers have told the Ballymurphy Inquest they were taken from their home and beaten by paratroopers, as another man lay dying outside their front door.

Robert and Bernard Doyle were 16 and 18 at the time of the incident in 1971.

They said they tried to hide under a bed after witnessing a shooting victim moaning in pain outside their home.

They gave evidence as the inquest examined the remaining two of 10 deaths over a period of three days in August 1971, after internment was introduced.

'Heavy gunfire'

The inquest has been sitting to hear evidence since mid November 2018.

The deaths under examination at Monday's hearing were that of John Laverty, who was 20, and 43-year-old Joseph Corr.

Image caption The inquest is now examining the deaths of 20-year-old John Laverty and 43-year-old Joseph Corr

They were fatally shot on the upper Whiterock Road near Dermott Hill Road early on the morning of 11 August.

The Doyle brothers lived at 205 Whiterock Road, close to where the road met the countryside of Black Mountain.

They told the court they had woken at about 04:30 BST on 11 August 1971 to the sound of paratroopers coming down the road, also known by locals as the "Mountain Loney".

Robert said their father went outside to investigate and later had to take cover from heavy gunfire in another house.

Both men said they heard shooting from the soldiers and then moaning outside.

'I'm dying'

They said they opened the front door, and found a wounded man lying beyond the hedge at their front gate.

They said he shouted to them not to come out, saying: "No it's too late, I'm dying."

They thought he had probably been brought there by the soldiers after being shot.

The brothers said they went back inside and ran upstairs to hide under a bed, but moments later paratroopers kicked in their front door and came in and arrested them.

Bernard Doyle told the inquest the wounded man was in their garden at that point, covered in blood and still moaning.

He said the man's white shirt was saturated with blood.

The brothers described being taken outside, pushed up against an armoured vehicle and badly beaten.


Robert distinctly remembered that one of the soldiers had ginger hair.

Later they described being driven in a 4X4 vehicle with two soldiers, but having to stop as the vehicle came under attack at a barricade on the Springfield Road.

The brothers said they were later loaded into a lorry with at least 20 other people and taken to Girdwood Barracks in north Belfast.

They said they were forced to "run the gauntlet" between two lines of soldiers and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers who beat them as they entered the barracks.

Robert Doyle remembered being held in a gym at the barracks for two days and Bernard for three.

They recalled being forced to sit on chairs facing a wall, and were beaten if they moved or slept.

Robert Doyle said he was eventually awarded £240 compensation, which he later regretted accepting.

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