Soldiers from Great Britain who served in Northern Ireland say the Government has “run down its loyalty card” in pandering to republicans and will press the PSNI to carry out proper investigations into countless IRA attempts on their lives.
The group, calling itself the Veterans’ Lobby Group (VLG), formed recently on Facebook and is focusing on resentment felt by former soldiers – many of them suffering severe physical and emotional scars from having served here.
Members have been provoked by what they see as a one-sided investigation of the past which does not probe IRA activities – for example, the PSNI questioning ex-soldiers over Bloody Sunday.
Some 150 VLG soldiers are pressing for fresh IRA probes.
About 75 per cent of them are from England, Scotland and Wales, with the remainder coming from Northern Ireland.
The chairman of VLG, ‘Steve’, told the News Letter he spent nine years in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s. He suffers post traumatic stress disorder, blast damage to his lungs and various other injuries.
“The IRA made 16 attempts on my life,” he said.
“Our legacy inquiry team is probably stronger than the PSNI’s – I don’t think there is anyone that the Government has not annoyed!”
He added: “We see Martin McGuinness pressing for an inquiry into the Loughgall shootings [of the IRA by the SAS] – but nobody is asking about attacks against us. It is about time we said to Sinn Fein to either put up or shut up. The Government has run down its loyalty card as far as GB soldiers and the people of Northern Ireland are concerned.”
Conservative Party spokesman Frank Shivers said: “There are roughly 1,400 outstanding murder cases from Northern Ireland’s troubled past and over half of those relate to deaths of members of the security forces.
“Former soldiers and police officers naturally look at the focus of current inquests, not to mention civil cases and the reporting of the past in the media, and wonder why these statistics are not reflected.”
A spokesman for Relatives for Justice said it supports “a small number” of former soldiers.
Any new investigative mechanism must examine all unsolved killings “and that must include the killings of British soldiers”, he said. Clearly the RUC did not properly investigate attacks against them and Army intelligence “permitted” them to be killed, he added.
Sinn Fein and the PSNI did not offer any comment.