Ballymurphy Massacre

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Ballymurphy Massacre
Part of the Troubles
A mural in Belfast commemorating the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre.
Location Belfast, Northern Ireland
Coordinates 54°34′30″N 5°58′26″W / 54.575°N 5.974°W / 54.575; -5.974Coordinates: 54°34′30″N 5°58′26″W / 54.575°N 5.974°W / 54.575; -5.974
Date 9 – 11 August 1971
Attack type
Deaths 11
Perpetrator The Parachute Regiment, British Army

The Ballymurphy Massacre was a series of incidents involving the killing of eleven civilians by the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment of the British Army in Ballymurphy, Belfast, Northern Ireland. The killings happened between 9 and 11 August 1971, during Operation Demetrius. The shootings have also been called Belfast Bloody Sunday, a reference to another massacre of civilians by the same battalion a few months later.[1]

The Northern Ireland Troubles had been raging for two years, and Belfast was torn apart by political and sectarian violence. The British Army had been deployed in Northern Ireland in 1969, as the Royal Ulster Constabulary had let events go beyond its control.

On the morning of Monday 9 August 1971, the security forces launched Operation Demetrius. The plan was to arrest and imprison without charge or trial anyone suspected of being a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. The unit selected for this operation was the Parachute Regiment—the same regiment later responsible for the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry on 30 January 1972.[2] Members of the Parachute Regiment stated that, as they entered the Ballymurphy area, they were shot at by republicans and returned fire.[3]

The families of the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre seek acknowledgment from the British government that those killed were innocent of any wrongdoing.[4]


Commemoration plaque in a remembrance garden in Ballymurphy, Belfast

Six civilians were shot on 9 August, these were:

  • Francis Quinn (19), shot by a sniper (who had taken position at the nearby army base) while going to the aid of a wounded man.[5]
  • Hugh Mullan (38), a Catholic priest, shot by a sniper while going to the aid of a wounded man.[5][6]
  • Joan Connolly (50), shot as she stood opposite the army base.[5][7]
  • Daniel Teggart (44), was shot fourteen times. Most of the bullets entered his back, allegedly as he lay injured on the ground.[8][5]
  • Noel Phillips (20), shot as he stood opposite the army base.[5][9]
  • Joseph Murphy (41), shot as he stood opposite the army base.[5] Murphy was subsequently taken into army custody and after his release, as he was dying in hospital, he claimed that he had been beaten and shot again while in custody. When his body was exhumed in October 2015, a second bullet was discovered in his body, which activists say corroborate his claim.[10]

One civilian was shot on 10 August, and another four were shot on 11 August, these were:

  • Edward Doherty (28), shot while walking along Whiterock Road.[11]
  • John Laverty (20) and Joseph Corr (43) were shot at separate points at the Top of the Whiterock Road. Laverty was shot twice, once in the back and once in the back of the leg. Corr was shot multiple times and died of his injuries on 27 August.[5][12]
  • John McKerr (49), shot by unknown attackers while standing outside the Roman Catholic church, died of his injuries on 20 August.[13][14]
  • Paddy McCarthy (44) got into a confrontation with a group of soldiers. One of them allegedly put an empty gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. McCarthy suffered a heart attack and died shortly thereafter.[15][16]

In February 2015, the conviction of Terry Laverty, younger brother of John, was quashed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.[17] He had been convicted of riotous behaviour and sentenced to six months on the eye witness evidence of a paratrooper.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Damian Robin (29 June 2010). "Belfast ‘Bloody Sunday’ Inquiry Called For"". The Epoch Times. Archived from the original on 20 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Bishop Backs Army Killings Probe - Northern Ireland, Local & National -". 29 July 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Ballymurphy families meet First Minister Peter Robinson". BBC News. 18 February 2011. 
  4. ^ Relatives For Justice - Ballymurphy Tree-planting Ceremony
  5. ^ a b c d e f g CAIN - Index of Deaths - 9 August 1971
  6. ^ "Fr Hugh Mullan". Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  7. ^ "Joan Connolly". Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  8. ^ McDonald, Henry (6 June 2010). "Were Bloody Sunday Soldiers Involved in 'Ballymurphy Massacre'? / UK News / The Observer". Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Noel Phillips". Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  10. ^ Gerry Moriarty (2015-10-27). "Bullet found in body of exhumed Ballymurphy massacre victim". Irish Times. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  11. ^ CAIN - Index of Deaths - 10 August 1971
  12. ^ "Joseph Corr". Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  13. ^ CAIN - Index of Deaths - 11 August 1971
  14. ^ "John McKerr". Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  15. ^ CAIN - Index of Deaths - Sudden deaths due to heart problem during an incident
  16. ^ "Paddy McCarthy". Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  17. ^ "Ballymurphy conviction: Terry Laverty cleared of rioting". BBC News Online. 10 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Henry McDonald (10 February 2015). "Belfast man cleared of rioting during 1971 Ballymurphy unrest". The Guardian.