Irish freedom event Sunday at FOP

A special guest will speak about the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians/Ladies AOH’s Freedom for All Ireland Committee will sponsor a Jam Session for Irish Freedom on Sunday, Nov. 11, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, 11630 Caroline Road.

The guest will be Carmel Quinn, speaking on the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest.

Laverty

Quinn, who will be making her first trip to the U.S., is part of Relatives for Justice, family members seeking American help in their 47-year battle for justice.

The 11 victims included John Laverty, Quinn’s sister.

Quinn’s visit to Philadelphia will kick off her American tour, with the inquest scheduled to open in Belfast on Monday, with opening statements followed by statements from families of the victims. Evidence will be heard beginning Nov. 28

The massacre took place from Aug. 9–11, 1971, when Irish civilians were killed by the British Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force in Ballymurphy, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The victims included a Catholic priest, the Rev. Hugh Mullan, who was waving a white handkerchief, and Joan Connolly, a 50-year-old mother of eight left in the open to bleed to death.

Laverty was 20. He was shot in the back.

“He posed no threat,” his sister said in a phone interview from her Ireland home on Saturday

Ten of the victims were shot. The other died of a heart attack when a soldier put an empty gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. Others were wounded and assaulted, and homes were ransacked.

“Somebody has to take responsibility for this,” Quinn said. “All we want is the truth.”

AOH national vice president Danny O’Connell and secretary Jere Cole recently promised the Ballymurphy families that America would stand behind them in their battle for justice, and AOH Freedom for All Ireland chairman Martin Galvin said the committee will keep that pledge.

“The Ballymurphy Massacre is a fundamental test of Britain’s ability to give legacy justice. If victims cannot get justice where 11 people, including a Catholic priest and mother of eight children were killed by British troops, how can we expect justice in any killings or collusion murders where British forces were involved? Galvin said.

Quinn’s itinerary will take her to North Jersey, New York, Ohio and Washington, D.C. She will be honored, along with outgoing U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley and Irish Echo editor Ray O’Hanlon, by the Bronx AOH on Nov. 18

“I’m really, really looking forward to getting the support of America,” she said.

Quinn, who was 8 when her brother was murdered, is confident that a fair inquest will reveal what really happened 47 years ago. She said the families have strong legal representation in Padraig O’ Muirigh Solicitors.

“What happened at Ballymurphy is so cut and dry,” she said. “You just can’t go in and destroy a whole community and say you had nothing to do with it. The British always say they were not the aggressors in the confrontation, only bystanders. We’re fighting for the truth.”

The families’ story has been captured in a documentary, The Ballymurphy Precedent, and more information can be found at www.ballymurphymassacre.com/cms/

As for Sunday’s event, the cost is $35 and includes draft beer, soda, a buffet and Irish music.

Checks can be made payable to AOH Phila. County Board, with “FFAI” in the memo.

Call Gerry McHale at 267–767–7854 or Pearse Kerr at 267–253–9001. ••