The Ballymurphy Precedent is powerful forensic investigation of one of the worst atrocities of the Northern Irish “Troubles”. A shocking story which, until this film, was largely unknown outside of the North of Ireland.
It tells how, over three days in one small Belfast housing estate in 1971, shootings by the British Army caused the deaths of eleven innocent Catholic civilians, including a priest and a mother of eight. As many as thirty more civilians were shot and injured.
But the film is also the inspirational story of the courage and dignity of the families of the dead as they search for the truth.
And along the way it is a challenging re-examination of an extraordinary period of recent history which casts a new and disturbing light on Britain’s role in the creation of the thirty years of war in the North of Ireland which became known as ‘The Troubles’.
The shootings happened in August 1971 during protests over the three days that followed the government’s introduction of internment without charge or trial: A draconian policy which for two years was directed exclusively against nationalists.
Ten of the victims were shot. Among the dead a priest and a mother of eight. An eleventh died of a heart attack after being threatened on the street by members of Para patrol. As many as thirty others were shot and injured.
At the time the army claimed the dead were armed terrorists – a claim which has never been withdrawn and remains an ongoing injustice and block on Northern Ireland’s painful road to peace and reconciliation.
But the film also puts these events in their context and looks at the devastating effect of these events on the course of the next thirty years of the Troubles.
It examines how, less than six months after the massacre at Ballymurphy, members of the same Parachute regiment were sent from Belfast to Londonderry/Derry, where they shot another 13 Catholics dead on the day that became known across the world as “Bloody Sunday”.
In doing so it raises vital questions about what the authorities knew – or should have known – about what the Paras were likely to do when they sent them to Derry.