Boris Johnson ‘gets it now’ on Ballymurphy killings, Taoiseach says after meeting

Boris Johnson “gets it now” on Ballymurphy, the Taoiseach said after returning from talks with the British Prime Minster at Chequers.

On the Ballymurphy situation, I think he does understand it now, and is fully appraised of the situation,” said Micheal Martin at Government Buildings.

“We had a good discussion on that, on a one-to-one basis. And on the needs of the families and their sense of the long journey to justice,” Mr Martin told journalists.

The Taoiseach said the families of the people gunned down by British soldiers had undergone a long journey to vindicate their relatives who were killed and who were always entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

“So he fully gets that and he is fully appraised of it, I think it’s something that he perhaps will deal with in his way and in his own time.”

The comments raise the prospect of a new apology by Mr Johnson, possibly before the House of Commons, which was addressed only by the Northern Secretary, Brandon Lewis.

These was also anger among relatives over a letter Mr Johnson sent to the solicitor for the families, acknowledging the innocence of the ten who died, but referring to the “events” of August 1971.

The Taoiseach is to meet the British Prime Minister again in the summer after their meeting at Chequers, it has emerged. The two men discussed the Northern Ireland protocol, the broader British-Irish relationship, Brexit and European issues.

Whether the DUP leadership was discussed neither man would say, but the Taoiseach emphasised the strong and abiding ties between the two nations and doing as much as possible to maintain them in the aftermath of the UK withdrawal from the European Union The two leaders also discussed the Covid-19 response.

“Discussions focused on ways the two Governments can continue to work together to support all the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and promote peace and prosperity on both a North-South and East-West basis, said an official statement from the Taoiseach’s office.

“The two leaders, in particular, discussed the long journey of the Ballymurphy families for justice to vindicate the innocence of their loved ones.

“They also discussed British-Irish relations, and both are ambitious for the development of the next phase of the bilateral relationship framed around a number of areas of common interest.

“Thy agreed to remain in close touch over the coming weeks. “

Following the meeting at the Prime Minister’s official country residence, Mr Martin tweeted: “Wide-ranging & constructive discussions with @BorisJohnson today on British-Irish relations, including the long struggle for justice by the Ballymurphy families.

“We also reaffirmed both governments’ commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and its institutions.”

For his part, Boris Johnson said he had held “good discussions” with Mr Martin

“We are both committed to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and to addressing the legacy of the Troubles to deliver a brighter future for everyone in Northern Ireland,” he tweeted.

On Tuesday in Belfast, coroner Mrs Justice Keegan ruled that those who died at Ballymurphy 50 years ago were “entirely innocent”.

She found that nine of the 10 had been killed by soldiers, and the use of lethal force was not justified.

Mr Martin did not comment on the UK Government’s reported plan to introduce legislation to prevent further prosecutions for crimes committed in the Troubles.

But the matter is understood to have been discussed at Chequers, with the Taoiseach conveying the Government’s deep misgivings and displeasure at the unilateral move, which Mr Martin earlier this week suggested was “a breach of trust.”

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