Veterans to converge on Belfast City Hall for protest rally

More than 1,000 veterans who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles attended a rally at Westminster in January
More than 1,000 veterans who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles attended a rally at Westminster in January

A protest by military veterans who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles will be held in Belfast in April – calling on the government to end the “gross abuse and witch-hunts” in search of prosecutions.

The Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group has organised the rally to take place at the front of the city hall at 11am on Friday, April 14.

It has been timed to coincide with similar events being held in London and Glasgow on the same day.

A 75-year-old army veteran - who has been charged with attempted murder after a fatal shooting in Benburb more than 40 years ago – is due to address the London rally at the Guards Memorial on Horse Guards Parade.

Dennis Hutchings from Cornwall was arrested in England in April 2015 and charged in connection with the death of John Pat Cunningham in the village on the boundary between Co Tyrone and Co Armagh in 1974.

Mr Hutchings, who has appeared at court in Northern Ireland in connection with the ongoing hearing, claims former soliders are being “thrown to the wolves” over instant decisions made in the course of their duty.

Last month, around 1,000 veterans marched on Westminster for a rally addressed by DUP MP and former UDR corporal Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

Speaking to the News Letter afterwards, Mr Donaldson said that “with over 3,000 unsolved murders in Northern Ireland”, the focus of legacy investigations needed to shift away from the state towards paramilitaries.

“I share their concern about the current process in Northern Ireland which seems to deal with legacy issues with an entire focus on what the state did,” the Lagan Valley MP added.