The Government has told the families of 11 people killed by British troops in the case known as the Ballymurphy Massacre that there will be no independent investigation of the deaths.
The relatives criticised the decision of Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson and pledged to continue their campaign.
The innocent civilians who died after being shot and beaten by members of the Parachute Regiment in 1971 included a mother of eight and a Catholic priest tending to the wounded.
The deaths occurred during a security operation in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast that stretched across August 9-11 following the introduction of internment without trial.
Military claims at the time that the victims were armed republicans were discredited and the families have called for an examination of the true facts of the case – which has been linked to the killing of civilians by the same regiment on Bloody Sunday in Derry.
A spokesman for the families said they are “deeply disappointed” by Mr Paterson’s decision to turn down their request for an independent investigation.
“Mr Paterson, in his letter, has stated that it ‘would not be in the public interest’ that an Independent Investigation be established,” they said. “We refute this assertion and believe that is clearly in the ‘public interest’ that the full facts relating to the circumstances of the deaths of our loved ones and the role of the British Parachute Regiment is fully established.
“This is especially so given the recent findings of Lord Saville in relation to the events of Bloody Sunday and the disclosure of official British Government documents which reveal evidence of immunity for British soldiers involved in the murder of innocent civilians.”
Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin has ordered that the inquests into the deaths be re-opened.
But the families rejected advice they said they received from Mr Paterson that other avenues were open to them, including the police Historical Enquiries Team (HET) which is examining murders from the Troubles.
POSTED ON BEHALF OF : IRISH INDEPENDENT