Soldiers who served in Northern Ireland and their supporters are angry that, although 90 per cent of the 3,500 killings in Northern Ireland were at the hands of terrorists, the investigation has focused on the actions of British forces.
Saturday 3rd February saw veterans march on Westminster, protesting against the ‘Witch Hunt’ where fueled by Sinn Fein, where up to a thousand British soldiers, many of which are now in their 60s and 70s could face potential murder charges for simply doing their job whilst serving in Northern Ireland.
The March organised by the group Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans Campaign Group was to continue to highlight the injustice of British soldiers who simply served their country an are now being betrayed, whilst IRA terrorists have been given get out of jail free passes, giving immunity from prosecution for their crimes due to the Good Friday Agreement.
The Witch Hunt led by Sinn Fein, to pressure government and authorities to prosecute British soldiers for killing IRA terrorist has sickened the armed forces community. The group have been calling for Theresa May to halt the re-examining of historical killings during the ‘troubles’ and to bring a ‘Statute of Limitation’ into law to protect soldiers from this witch hunt.
The Military Times contacted Number 10 for a comment and if they would finally publicly announce they will protect our veterans who served in Northern Ireland by putting into Law a statute of limitation, but Number 10 refused to comment.
The march began at Horse Guards Parade and ended in Parliament Square with speeches coming from organiser of the event Alan Barry, along with other veterans, including 76yr old Northern Ireland veteran Dennis Hutchings who is already facing attempted murder charges over a fatal shooting over forty years ago.
Talking to organiser, Alan Barry, the overall feelings on how the march went was extremely positive and showed that there is growing support for the groups campaign. “This latest march was the forth organised by Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans in just 12months, with the past two being the most impact” said Barry.
Barry went on to say “We have moved a long way from the long speeches and gone on the offensive, we are now playing the Republican PR machine. This time we decided to highlight a fraction of our dead, unjustly killed by the IRA, we selected 200 from over 700 to show on placards displaying their age, rank and regiment, along with breaches against their human rights”.
Many of the 200 dead soldiers, killed by the IRA shown on the groups placards were just 18 to 21yrs old.
When asked about numbers attending the rally, Barry said “approximately 1000” he also highlighted the fast growing support online with over 22,000 members on their Facebook group ‘Justice For N. Ireland Vets’.
Talking to several members of the group, it was plain to see how frustrated and angry they are with not only government, but serving Generals who they feel have not come out publicly in defence of the Northern Ireland veterans, something that certainly in recent time has been highlighted in other areas of military issues, where serving Generals have been accused of not defending and protecting the British Army and only coming out once they have retired to give themselves soundbites to promote new careers and books.
One veteran told The Military Times “Its about time, ministers and generals came out and publicly supported our Northern Ireland veterans”.
The IRA committed terrorism against the UK, killed not only British serving personnel, RUC Officers and politicians that spoke out against them, but also innocent civilians, in fact the IRA killed more Catholics than Sinn Fein claim the British Army killed during the troubles. The public have forgotten facts of Bloody Sunday which has been long seen as a black day for the army in Northern Ireland, that show Republicans in a bad light also . And don’t forget, that just because of the Good Friday Agreement where the IRA was supposed to lay down arms and agree to peace, have and still are operational in Northern Ireland today and still killing.
Organiser Alan Barry, who is a veteran himself and served in Northern Ireland said “We want to show the imbalance between the terrorists who received get-out-of-jail-free cards giving them immunity from prosecution and the unacceptable decision to prosecute British soldiers. We want to send a message to Parliament that we will not tolerate the hounding of veterans who went to Northern Ireland on the side of law and order to fight terrorism. To haul them before the courts is grotesque.”
Barry went on to say “the group wants to highlight the grotesque unjust balance between IRA terrorists who received immunity from prosecution letters from Tony Blair and the veterans being chased after for prosecution in this witch hunt”
The Justice For Northern Ireland Campaign Group also protested outside the BBC on Sunday morning after the BBC promoted an upcoming interview with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams on the Andrew Marr Show. Unfortunately the interview was pre-recorded and protesters could not show their disgust towards Adams who will be stepping down from his position at Sinn Fein next month.
When talking with veterans who watched the interview, they expressed their disgust towards the BBC giving a platform to Adams, Sinn Fein and the IRA. Talking with Alan Barry, he said “As always the BBC have done an injustice, they continue to give Republicans airtime and ignore veterans”
The BBC’s response to the reaction from the veterans community on the Gerry Adams interview was no comment.
The newly formed Democrats and Veterans Party, via their Deputy Leader Trevor Coults MC said “The Democrats and Veterans Party Will hold ALL Ministers accountable who knew about or who signed documentation that has led to the prosecution of veterans. Veterans from Operation Banner have been held hostage by our government for nearly 40 years and it’s time we gave them their life back”
The Military Times gave Sinn Fein the opportunity, to comment and answer a very straight forward question: Here is Sinn Fein’s official response.
Do Sinn Fein think it’s fair that British Army Veterans should face prosecution for the killing IRA terrorists whilst because of the Good Friday Agreement, IRA terrorists are free from prosecution due to letters sent to then from the then Tony Blair Government?
Sinn Fein’s Answer: “British forces were directly involved in state killings and also in a campaign of systemic collusion and state-sanctioned executions through surrogate unionist death squads.”
“British soldiers acted with de facto impunity and any attempt to provide immunity to British soldiers and others who either directly, or indirectly through collusion, killed citizens is entirely unacceptable.”
The MOD and General Sir Nick Carter – Chief of the General Staff of the British Army were invited to comment, this was their reply:
You might be interested in the below PQ as it sets out the Government’s position, we won’t be commenting further at the moment.
A member of the Defence Committee refused to comment further on what is already in the public domain on their views and what they have put forward to Government, however Chairman of the Defence Committee Julian Lewis MP (Tory Party) has demanded an end to the prosecutions and says the Government should pass a statute of limitations to prevent veterans facing legal action over the killings, effectively granting immunity to those who served in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed.
Number 10 was given to opportunity to comment, but no comment was given.