Veterans’ campaign ‘that bit harder’ after election result

The Veterans for Justice UK march passes through Coleraine town centre on Saturday

The Veterans for Justice UK march passes through Coleraine town centre on Saturday

The results of the election will make a veterans’ campaign against what they view as the lopsided nature of legacy Troubles investigations “that bit harder”.

That is according to Anto Wickham, who spoke at a Justice for Veterans UK rally in Coleraine on Saturday.

Mr Wickham, organiser of the march, hit out at Sinn Féin’s “hypocrisy” after he was forced to move the march – originally planned to be held in Londonderry – to Coleraine in the face of what he called “threats from the republican side of the community”.

In the event, the parade in Coleraine was well received, he said, with people lining the streets to show their support to the veterans’ campaign.

The parade, one of a series across Northern Ireland, was organised so veterans could display their anger at the way investigations into killings that happened here during the Troubles are being handled.

The veterans, along with many unionist politicians and NI Secretary James Brokenshire, are unhappy with what they believe is the disproportionate focus on investigating soldiers rather than the much more numerous killings by paramilitary forces.

Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Wickham said: “It went very well. Just over 100 veterans turned up, plus the band, As we marched into Coleraine, the local community were out lining the streets and they applauded us as we went by.

“As we got up into the town where the cenotaph is, there must have been around 150 people there waiting for us, who applauded us in.”

Mr Wickham continued: “The councillor from Coleraine, George Duddy, gave an outstanding speech before I gave my own which seems to have been recieved quite well.

“It went really well and afterwards, people in the community were saying to us that what has been happening is a disgrace.

“Unfortunately, I think our fight for justice is going to be that little bit harder because of the result of the election so we have a long, hard struggle ahead of us.

“But, we’ve got to take it and we’ll just have to see what they come up with on the hill and we’ll just keep battling away. Sinn Féin go on, in their hypocrisy, about a shared future and equality but we had to move that march from Londonderry to Coleraine because of the threats we received from the republican side of the community.”