T he British Shadow Secretary of State says the families of those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre have “waited too long for the truth”.
Ivan Lewis MP was speaking after he met with the families of the victims on Monday in the Upper Springfield.
In total, 11 people were murdered by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment in the estate in a 36-hour rampage in August 1971 following the introduction of internment.
As part of his ongoing engagement with victims and their families across all communities in the north, Mr Lewis sat down with the Ballymurphy victims’ families at the Matt Talbot Youth Club after visiting the murder sites.
“I was moved and shocked by the testimonies of the Ballymurphy campaign families,” Mr Lewis said after the meeting. “Like many families in both communities, they have waited too long for the truth. The time has come to address this grave injustice.
“There is no doubt that there has neither been due process or justice with regard to the killing of their loved ones.
“It is clearly now in the public interest for a process to be established as soon as possible which has the confidence of the victims’ families.”
Mr Lewis also said that he will study the Hillsborough-style Independent Panel proposal put forward by the families as a possible way of securing justice and added that he will lobby Labour leader Ed Miliband to meet the group.
Briege Voyle, whose mother Joan was killed during the three bloody days of shooting, said: “We welcome Mr Lewis’ comments. Hopefully Mr Cameron will listen to the growing support from today and also the recent statement from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Catholic Church.
“Taoiseach Enda Kenny met the families in Dublin at the end of last month and gave his support to their campaign. He said that the Irish Government supports the call for the appointment of an Independent Panel to examine all documents relating to the context, circumstances and aftermath of the deaths.
“He also undertook to raise the matter directly with Prime Minister Cameron at their forthcoming meeting.
“That is a step in the right direction and we would hope David Cameron will take that on board.”
West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood, who was at Monday’s meeting, called on Mr Lewis to support the panel proposal.
“I welcome the meeting between the Ballymurphy Massacre families and Shadow Secretary of State, Ivan Lewis MP, which I attended on Monday,” he said.
“The parties in London have to be strong and single-minded in support of addressing the past. This is the challenge. This is the standard against which to judge the response of all. This is the choice faced by Labour.
“I urge Ivan Lewis to follow the lead of Enda Kenny – support the campaign and endorse the proposal from the families for an Independent Panel to review the evidence, as with the Hillsborough.”
Sinn Fein’s Jennifer McCann MLA, who also attended the meeting, called on Mr Lewis to put pressure on the British Government for an independent inquiry.
“The families of those murdered in Ballymurphy have been campaigning for truth and justice for their loved ones for 42 years,” she said. “I urged Ivan Lewis to use his influence on the British Government to convince them to initiate an independent and public investigation into these killings.”