Northern Ireland

Ballymurphy inquest: Parachute Regiment veterans deny 'wall of silence'

The Ballymurphy victims
Image caption The inquest is examining the deaths of 10 people in Ballymurphy in 1971

Veterans of a company of the Parachute Regiment have been accused of putting up "a wall of silence" to the Ballymurphy Inquest.

Although very few soldiers from Support Company 2 Para have given evidence, more have now appeared as witnesses.

Part of the company was present when Fr Hugh Mullan and Frank Quinn were shot dead on 9 August 1971.

Support Company soldiers' statements from the 1970s suggest they shot 60 or 70 live rounds in the area that day.

Evidence to the current inquest has been markedly different, with very little detail from Support Company about who fired a weapon.

A barrister for the Mullan and Quinn families asked Soldier M88 if Support Company veterans were "putting up a virtual wall of silence".

He replied: "I don't know Ma'am, but I'm not."

Another soldier, M222 said he honestly did not know either and had not been in contact with former comrades via social media.

"I'm an old soldier, I don't even have a mobile phone" he told the court.

Soldier M88 told the court he was "shocked and surprised" at the contents of a statement he had given to the Royal Military Police in 1971.

The former private said that the statement described him carrying out an internment arrest, but up until he saw it, he had no recollection whatsoever of internment or taking part in any arrests.

M222, a former sergeant in Support Company, explained that his section was sent on patrol to a different area of the Springfield Road and did not return for about 36 hours.

Neither soldier recalled witnessing shootings or the deaths of civilians.

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