Known collectively as the New Lodge Six, the men were unarmed and shot without provocation, but immediately after the shootings the MoD and British Army issued a statement claiming that they had shot six ‘gunmen’ dead. The implications of that lie has haunted the families and friends of the dead ever since, and caused much suffering.
As the 30th anniversary of the killings approaches, the committee that recently put together the impressive community inquiry into the shootings, has organized a series of events to commemorate the six. They have also issued an urgent appeal for further assistance.
The New Lodge Six Committee has published a comprehensive report which they hope to use to raise international awareness of the case and press the British government for a full public inquiry, but they require more funds to persue the fight.
“We are conscious of the fact that the money we raised for the inquiry was raised door to door and through collections,” says committee member Irene Sherry. “It is terrible that we have to keep going back to the community for more, but its imperative for us because this has implications for the whole of the north of Ireland.”
“It’s of significance to everybody,” agrees Paul O’Neill, the committee chair. “It is also part of the equality agenda. It goes to the heart of the ‘victims’ issue – how people are actually treated and addressed by the state. It has big implications and the only way that we’re going to get this on the agenda is by raising public awareness of the event.”
The internationally respected jurists who presided over the recent community inquiry included lawyers and activists known worldwide for their work in the area of human rights and criminal and civil liberties law.
At the conclusion of the emotional two-day inquiry, they issued their preliminary findings, saying that the state had totally failed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the six victims and the wounding of several others. They also stated there had been “a clear breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to life…” and that “there is no evidence to indicate that any of the deceased and wounded were armed at the time of their shooting or acting in a manner which might have been interpreted as a potential threat to the security forces”.
While the initial findings of the panel have vindicated the six victims, their friends, families, and the New Lodge community as a whole are determined that the fight for the truth will go on.
“While there was a sense of elation, people want it to go further,” says Sherry.
“We owe it to the families to do this for them and to see it through. We gave that commitment and we don’t want to let them down, but we need people to help us.”
Donations can be sent in the form of an International Money Order or personal cheque to: The New Lodge Six Campaign, c/o Ashton Centre, 5 Churchill Street, Belfast. You can also contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All cheques should be made payable to the New Lodge Six Campaign.
New Lodge Six Commemorative Events:
Saturday, 1 February
1pm – Commemorative human rights march and unveiling of new mural in honour of the six victims.
The pipe band of Cumman na Meirleach (the Felons) will accompany the march and speakers will include Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly and a representative of the families of the dead.
Assemble bottom of New Lodge Road at North Queen Street (Artillery House)
3pm – Discussion on state violence
Speakers will include Fr Des Wilson, Dr Pete Shirlow (Social Exclusion Unit, University of Ulster) and Angela Ritchie (Solicitor – Madden & Finucane)
5pm – Traditional music session
Fitzgeralds pub, New Lodge Road
Sunday, 2 February: Bloody Sunday March, Derry
Several buses will be travelling to Derry from Belfast for the march, but space is limited. To book your place, ring the Antrim Road office of Sinn Féin at: (90) 740817. Bus departs at 12 noon SHARP (not republican time) from Fitzgerald’s, New Lodge Road
Monday, 3 February: 30th Anniversary of New Lodge massacre
11am – Public launch of New Lodge Six Inquiry Findings
Ashton Community Hall, Ashton Centre
7pm -Commemorative Community Mass
St. Patrick’s Chapel, Donegal Street