IT was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles, yet the Ballymurphy Massacre of 1971 has long been overshadowed by the following year’s events on Bloody Sunday.

Now a Scottish film-maker is bringing out a powerful and indeed shocking documentary on the killings of 11 civilians, including a Catholic priest, by the Parachute Regiment – the same regiment involved in Bloody Sunday – in Ballymurphy in Belfast from August 9 to 11, 1971.

Callum Macrae has named his film The Ballymurphy Precedent and yesterday he told The National that he had done so because he feels the Belfast killings foreshadowed what happened in Derry.

Macrae said: “If the lessons had been learned from the Ballymurphy killings then Bloody Sunday might never have happened in Derry just five months later and the history of that era might have been entirely different.”

Macrae, 65, has previously been nominated for an Emmy and a BAFTA for his work in documentaries, and the buzz in the industry is that The Ballymurphy Precedent could be in that territory, given its power.

Macrae’s best-known works include Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, which won the Current Affairs International category of the Royal Television Society’s Television Journalism Awards 2010-11, and No Fire Zone, also about Sri Lanka, which saw his team nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

For The Ballymurphy Precedent, Macrae spent four years raising funds and putting together the documentary and he says the most important element of the production was gaining the trust of the relatives.

“It’s really their story,” said Macrae, who backs the families’ calls for a public inquiry into the killings.

Macrae is well aware that he will be criticised for bringing up events which some people wish to consign to history.

He said: “It’s taken a long time to make the film. Channel 4 have been very supportive and I do pay tribute to them because I don’t think a lot of people would have done what they did.

“It took a lot of time to research what happened at Ballymurphy. We are very conscious that the story we are telling will not be very popular in certain quarters but we also think the story has to be told, because the fact that the story has never been told is a block on peace and reconciliation.

“There is only one lesson from history and that is that you have to tell the truth and only once the truth is told can you get reconciliation.”

Unusually, the documentary is being given a cinematic release in more than 30 cities and towns in the UK and Ireland from August 30, prior to being shown later by Channel 4.

The Glasgow Film Theatre is scheduled to show the film and there will be a special screening of the film at VUE if audience demand is sufficient.

Tickets for Edinburgh are at, while the link for the GFT is

Readers can view the trailer at