In August, 1971, British army soldiers shot dead 10 unarmed Catholics, including a priest and a mother of eight, in the West Belfast housing estate of Ballymurphy. An 11th victim died of a heart attack after a confrontation with an army patrol. The victims all died as a result of an operation carried out by members of Britain’s elite Parachute Regiment. But, as filmmaker Callum Macrae argues, what makes these deaths even more significant is that most (if not all) of the killings were carried out by the same regiment that, five months later, would shoot dead another 13 innocent people on what became known as Bloody Sunday.
In this project, Collum Macrae probes the killings in Ballymurphy, believing they are central to understanding what happened over the following three decades in Northern Ireland. As well as being a forensic investigation of horrific events, Macrae’s film—called “The Ballymurphy Precedent”—is about the catastrophic military and political strategy that led to them, and the bloody violence that followed. The film calls into question the conventional history of The Troubles, and demands a re-examination of Britain’s role in instigating that 30-year conflict.