‘We will defend our brothers from prosecutions’, vows rally organiser

Rally organisers with a protest letter addressed to Theresa May.

Rally organisers with a protest letter addressed to Theresa May.

A Northern Ireland veteran who helped organise a rally in central London in protest at what they view as the harassment of soldiers who served during the Troubles struck a defiant tone after the rally.

Alan Barry, who served in Northern Ireland during the early 1980s, said veterans from the conflict here would not allow “our brothers to be dragged through this nightmare”.

Mr Barry told the News Letter: “We were very pleased with the turnout.

“It was amazing to see. To look out at over 1,00 men and women and to see so many cap badges and berets, the age groups of men and women in their 70s, 60s, 50s and 40s because that is the age group that were there.

“I look back at photographs of myself and I think we were just kids. We were young men but we are veterans now. We just want to move on, get on with our lives but we will come out en masse. If the authorities think that we are not going to defend our brothers who are being dragged through this nightmare, they have another thing to think about.

“We are not going to roll over. The soldiering spirit will come out again and we will defend our brothers and our sisters.”

Mr Barry continued: “These are prosecutions where effectively one side is being investigated.

“Let us look at the cases at the moment – one soldier’s been charged, that’s Dennis Hutchings, two paratroopers have been arrested and are waiting to find out if they’re going to be charged.

“How many terrorists have been charged under the legacy inquiries investigations?”

Mr Barry, who is in his 50s, raised the prospect of further arrests.

“The PSNI have only been investigating claims from the ‘70s. They haven’t even got to the ‘80s or ‘90s yet. So how many more soldiers are going to go through this? How many more old grandfathers are going to have to go through this,” he asked.

“It is politically motivated and it is so bloody wrong. I think anyone with any sense of common decency would take a look at this and say, you know what, this isn’t right.”