Let me introduce myself: I am Anto Wickham and a proud veteran of 22 years’ service to my country.
I would like to thank the News Letter for your series Stop The Legacy Scandal.
This means so much to myself personally and I know all veterans and the security forces that served defending our wee country from the IRA are happy to see the newspaper make a stand against the way the system is treating those that served, and our brothers and sisters that paid with their lives.
We have had to sit back and watch the terrorists all get out of jail and walk free in the name of peace.
It was a brave step for our country to take and if it was to bring peace and help us all move forward then it was a price maybe worth paying.
However it seems we again fell into the republican trap, as this seems to have been part of their bigger plan to get a united Ireland.
They failed to do it via bomb and bullet. They fooled us with this talk of a shared future.
We now watch them re-write history and make out they were the heroes, the freedom fighters, what they did for Irish unity was justified.
Well they were terrorists, they murdered the innocent and planted bombs in towns killing our women and children, using the excuse of targeting the security forces.
They left their homes at night with murder in their minds, wore balaclavas and murdered their victims in their beds or planted a bomb under their car. The world needs to hear the truth about these cowards, not Sinn Fein’s romantic story.
The government were letting those that served our nation be hunted down and treated like we were the terrorists.
I noticed groups starting up and parading in London and a veteran asked if I would do something for the veterans in Northern Ireland.
I was going to find this difficult as I was working out of the country.
I reached out to other veterans asking for support and it came. I started a group Justice for Veterans UK in December 2015, to give veterans a platform on how we are being treated.
The plan was to march in our towns and cities in a smart military fashion. We had our first march in Belfast, in April 2016 when we marched to Stormont and handed a letter of concern to Andy Allen (a war hero and now an Ulster Unionist MLA).
Before this march I went to newspapers and the BBC and UTV trying to get coverage. Some showed interest, others none! But Mark Rainey did and we were on the News Letter front page.
We had marches in Lisburn, Antrim, Portadown and Coleraine. We have never wanted an amnesty, just a level playing field. If you treat the men and women who put their lives on the line this way, then we ask the system to do the same to real terrorists.
“We Served with Pride and Honour”
Anto Wickham, Justice for Veterans UK, Kabul