Saturday, 2 April 2011


BRIEGE VOYLE - daughter of joan connolly speech

Good afternoon everyone.

My name is Briege Voyle and I’m here representing the Ballymurphy Massacre Group.

I would like to thank the Bloody Sunday families for inviting me to join with you on this historic occasion as we all remember your loved ones who were murdered 39 years ago today.

On behalf of the Ballymurphy Massacre Group, I would like to pay tribute to the courage, determination, and dignity with which you conducted your campaign for the truth about what happened here almost 40 years ago.

You displayed so many qualities on your journey towards the truth. But it is your determination to succeed that I find most inspiring. Like so many of us in search of the truth, you had door after door slammed shut in your face. It must have been a huge battle to persevere. But persevere you did.

I’m sure along the way, the families had disagreements about this or that issue. But you proved that by working together, resolving and sometimes setting aside disagreements, truly great things can be achieved.

Your ability to overcame obstacle after obstacle and remain focused on your goal was what saw the truth finally released.

The Ballymurphy Massacre Group can learn a lot from you.

It seems like only yesterday that I stood here with you on the 15th of June last year when we waited on the British Prime Minister to deliver the findings of the Inquiry.

The atmosphere was electric as we waited on the announcement. I was gripped by the feeling that something truly uplifting was about to happen. That words once released from their forty-year prison could never again be locked away.

David Cameron announced to the watching world that your loved ones were innocent and delivered a historic apology. As he uttered the words “on behalf of the government, indeed, on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry” - tears of joy and sadness in equal measure rolled down my cheeks. 

It really is difficult to describe the overwhelming joy and pride that the Ballymurphy families felt for you on that momentous day.

It was a day when innocence was proclaimed. Elation, at last! Your long wait for innocence had come to an end. Widgery and his whitewash were confined to the dustbin of history once and for all. No ifs, buts or maybes – Just the Truth!

It was an honour to be here on that day and share in you’re your moment. I live in hope that one day you will be with the Ballymurphy families as we celebrate our day of innocence.

Until then, our fight for the truth will go on. We remain steadfast on our course. United in our pursuit of the day when our loved ones will be declared innocent and the full facts of what happened in Ballymurphy in August in 1971 will be revealed.

Much has been said about the cost of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry at £195 Million. Is it right that society should pay such a cost for the truth?

This is an argument that is constantly thrown in our faces as we search for the truth. David Cameron must be commended for his full and sincere apology on 15 June last year. However, his words were tarnished by his statement that “there will be no more open-ended and costly inquiries into the past”.

I would like to say a few things about cost to Mr Cameron. What cost did the Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy Families pay when the British Government unleashed the Parachute regiment on the streets of Derry and the Belfast almost 40 years ago.

I’ll tell you Mr Cameron. We paid the cost of the lives of our innocent loved ones!

We paid the cost of all the special moments that we can never share with them – the births and the marriages. All of life’s little successes which have felt hollow because of the absence of a loved one’s proud gaze.

How many Christmas dinners have been eaten with an empty chair at the table? How many tears have been shed? How many times has a child’s cry in the night went unheard?

The most difficult thing for me and the other Ballymurphy families in trying to deal with our loss is that there are so many questions that need to be answered. So many lies that need to be dispelled.

All that we want is to hear the truth of what happened over those three tragic days in August 1971 in Ballymurphy.

My mother’s name was Joan Connolly. A mother of 8, mummy was shot and killed by members of the Parachute Regiment on the 9th of August 1971.

My mother was only one of 11 people who were killed over a three day period. Some of the other victims included a local priest, Father Mullen, an ex-soldier, Mr McKerr, and a young man of only 19 years of age.  After the three days 57 children were left with only one parent.

We the Ballymurphy families believe that all victims have the right to know the truth about how our loved ones died. We need answers to the questions that haunt us everyday and every night. Why did it happen? Why was it my loved one? Will the truth ever be told?

I say shame on you Mr Cameron for insulting the families of the innocent with your talk of cost! It is not a cost, it is a debt! A debt which the British Government owed to us as soon as those Paras took aim and began to fire on unarmed and innocent civilians.

I would call on Mr Cameron to show courage and leadership by meeting the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre and telling us how you will make good your debt to us.
       do not insult us  again with  the offer of a desk top
        operation from the het we deserve better
Before I go I would like to thank the Bloody Sunday families for the support that they have given us in recent years. They have been a great source of inspiration and advice in our quest.

 I would like to invite the families and everyone here to join us in Belfast on August 6th for our annual "March for Truth". And our week long activities which will take place at the beginning of August this year and every year to commemorate the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre

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