The Secretary of State has decided against establishing an independent review panel to investigate events in Ballymurphy in 1971.
After careful consideration, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has decided against establishing an independent review panel to investigate events in Ballymurphy in August 1971.
Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP said:
I have met the families who lost loved ones in Ballymurphy and I was very moved to hear their personal stories of pain and loss, and by their shared sense of determination. I have taken time to consider their proposal for an independent review panel, which I received last summer.
In my view, the balance of public interest does not favour establishing an independent review. I do not believe that such a review would provide answers which are not already in the public domain or covered by existing legal processes.
In reaching this decision, I have sought to balance the strong and clear views of the families with the need to ensure that existing legal mechanisms can continue to carry out their functions without being impeded by an additional process. That includes the ongoing Coroner’s inquests.
I would like to reiterate my deepest sympathy and condolences for the families who were bereaved in August 1971. I am aware that this decision is not the outcome the families had hoped for. Having met them - and other families affected by other incidents throughout the Troubles - I know that the passage of time does not ease the pain and hurt felt about the loss of loved ones.
I am willing to meet with the Ballymurphy families and their representatives again, if they wish.
The families of those who died in Ballymurphy have been informed of the decision.
In November 2011, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland opened fresh inquests into 10 deaths that occurred in Ballymurphy. An additional review would cut across this ongoing legal process.
Should those inquests reveal clear indications of criminal activity, it would be a matter for the PSNI and independent prosecuting authorities to judge whether prosecutions should be pursued.