Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said the coroner's statement on the Ballymurphy killings has "cast a tremendous new light on one of the darkest pages of the history of the conflict".

Mr Coveney was reacting to the conclusion of the inquest that found that all of the ten people who were shot and killed in Ballymurphy in 1971 were "entirely innocent" and that their deaths were unjustified.

The minister said that the statement "will come as an immense relief and vindication for the families who have maintained for decades that their loved ones were innocent and their killings unjustified."

He went on to praise the relatives of those who died and their "determined campaign" for "the truth of what took place in those terrible days in August 1971".

The Taoiseach said the experience has been harrowing for the relatives of those who were killed and there were many false dawns before today.

Micheál Martin said legacy issues must be dealt with and victims must be the priority.

He said this must be done through the Stormont House Agreement.

Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald said today is a day of great relief for those who campaigned.

She said those who were killed were: "innocent, innocent, innocent."

Speaking in the Dáil, she said that the verdict is bittersweet given the British government's plans around legacy.

Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: "I deeply regret what the Ballymurphy families have had to go through.

"While I cannot change it, it renews my ambition to ensure that other families do not have to go through similar experiences in the future."

He said the British government will "carefully consider the extensive findings set out by the Coroner, but it is clear that those who died were entirely innocent of wrongdoing".

Northern Ireland's First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "This has been a long road for the Ballymurphy families.

"50 years later, the court has considered the evidence and the findings should be accepted. I commend the families for their tenacity.

"Lots of lessons to be learned. Grief is grief. Justice must be blind. Too many empty chairs across NI and unanswered questions."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill tweeted that the victims and the families have been "vindicated and the truth laid bare".

Alliance leader and Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long tweeted: "The Ballymurphy families have had battle too hard and too long to finally hear that truth at today's inquest ruling into their loved ones' deaths.

"They have carried themselves with courage and fortitude throughout the last 50 years. This is vindication of their fight."

Sinn Féin's North Belfast MP John Finucane tweeted that after 50 years the Ballymurphy families heard what they "always knew" that their relatives "were entirely innocent".

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood welcomed the findings of the inquest, saying the families have demonstrated an unshakable dignity throughout their long journey toward truth.

"They have stood against attempts to blacken the names of their loved ones, attempts to deny the truth and rewrite the past.

"Today they can stand proudly in the knowledge that their friends and family were entirely innocent of wrongdoing and the whole world knows it."


Ten killed at Ballymurphy were 'entirely innocent', inquest finds
Ballymurphy families waited almost half a century for today


A solicitor for the Ballymurphy families said they will be pursuing civil actions against Britain's Ministry of Defence in light of the findings today.

Pádraig Ó'Muirigh said there are "many criticisms of the British Army, the lack of investigation, the use of force by their soldiers".

He said that will be a feature of the civil action.

Reacting to the findings after the verdict was read out, one family member described feeling "ecstatic".

John Teggart, whose father Daniel Teggart was killed, said it was "pure joy for what we have campaigned for all these years".

He said it has been a fantastic day and that they got the "right outcome". Mr Teggart said that history had been corrected in many ways as all of the victims of the so-called Ballymurphy massacre had been declared innocent.

"We can rest easy, the hard work that we have done has paid off", he said.

"My father can rest easy," he said.

Rita Bonner, whose brother John Laverty was just 20 when he was shot and killed, said she was very happy with the verdicts.

"It's totally amazing," she said.

"For 50 years, he was branded a gunman. He was a 20 year old civilian," she said.

She said that her parents and others who started the campaign for fresh inquests had since died, and were not here to see this day.

Rita Bonner said it was a "relief" and "a great day for us".

Ballymurphy was 'not an isolated incident'

John Finucane, Sinn Féin MP for North Belfast, and son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, said the verdict of a coroner in Belfast today has brought "relief and joy" to the families of those who were killed.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Mr Finucane said it was "humbling" to be in the presence of the ten families while the verdict of Mrs Justice Keegan was delivered.

Mr Finucane said the families had no advance warning of what the verdict was going to be.

"They had all the human emotions of nervousness and wanted to ensure that their loved one’s names were cleared, and their names were cleared quite emphatically today."

He said the verdicts show that what happened in Ballymurphy was "not an isolated incident".

Mr Finucane said the British government "have said that they will legislate to ensure that there will be no prosecutions for past actions" and that this demonstrates how the UK government has "reneged on" the Stormont House Agreement.

"They certainly didn't consult with local parties here, and they are intent on ensuring that whilst the Ballymurphy families got truth today they certainly won’t get justice."

He said the UK government is ensuring that generations of people will have to "fight tooth and nail for the smallest amount of information".

Meanwhile, speaking in the House of Commons during the debate on the Queen's speech, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said cases such as the Ballymurphy inquest demonstrated why an amnesty for historic crimes during the Troubles in Northern Ireland would be wrong.

He said: "We recognise that there is a desire across all innocent victims in Northern Ireland, whatever their background to get to a moment where they can have a better understanding what happened to their loved ones. And to pursue justice."

He said "it would be wrong to deny people the opportunity of pursuing justice".

However, Mr Donaldson also said he wanted to see security force veterans protected from prosecution, if the alleged crimes of which they had been accused had already been the subject earlier investigations.