Jim Shannon: This is a witch hunt against ex soldiers

Veterans in London in 2012 remember soldiers who served in NI. Jim Shannon MP is grateful for their service
Veterans in London in 2012 remember soldiers who served in NI. Jim Shannon MP is grateful for their service

I know that I am not the only one who is furious to learn that up to 1,000 former army personnel, many of whom would now be in their 60s and 70s, are to be investigated for all 238 fatal incidents involving the British Army.

It is unconscionable that men following orders should be investigated for incidences 30 years ago which may leave them looking at sentences for manslaughter.

This treatment of our armed forces personnel is despicable. These are men who gave up family life, who gave up their freedom, who witnessed horrors, who were subjected to horrific life changing scenes, who held dying comrades in their arms and searched the rubble for missing limbs of their team – and now having dealt with all of this whilst wearing the Queen’s colours, they are again to be subjected to investigations as a sop to those who are on a witch hunt and do not care of innocence or guilt.

Let us be clear there are those who believe that anyone who wore a security forces uniform is guilty and these investigations will not change their minds.

Ask these soldiers have they had closure to know how their army brothers were killed, have those people faced justice?

Are those people even now the ones who are pushing for further persecution of men who dared to join the British Army and be stationed in Northern Ireland?

I understand the concept of closure and wanting justice – I still seek justice for the murder of my cousin Kenneth Smyth and the four UDR men killed at Ballydugan and yet no multi-million pound investigation is available for that.

I resent the idea that one life is worth more than another – the grief of a mother does not change with the colour of her hair, the area she lives in or the church she worships in.

I am fully supportive of our soldiers and former RUC members who at this time barely hold the fragments of their lives together and more than this I am grateful for them.

I am grateful for their service and their sacrifice and I stand with them at this difficult time and I know that I represent the vast majority of Strangford when I say this – I apologise for the further trauma that the news of this investigation may inflict on you and say that it is not done in my name.

Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford