SAS veteran Chris Ryan opposes NI amnesty

Former SAS soldier Chris Ryan has opposed an amnesty as a means of dealing Northern Ireland’s past.

Mr Ryan, who served with the SAS in Northern Ireland, is best known as the only member of an SAS unit to escape from a Iraqi forces on a mission during the Gulf War.

Soldiers take cover behind armoured cars in Londonderry in January 1972

Soldiers take cover behind armoured cars in Londonderry in January 1972

Now a best selling military fiction author, during an interview with to mark the release of his latest novel, he was asked about current attempts to prosecute NI veterans for Troubles-era killings.

“I’ve spoken to several of the guys who have actually been brought over to Northern Ireland to be re-interviewed,” he said.

“If we keep looking back, we’re never going to be able to look forward or move forward.

“If somebody has done something wrong then they will be prosecuted but as I said, it’s this whole thing about trying to move forward.”

Pressed on whether there should be an amnesty for elderly veterans, he told BBC Radio Ulster that he had faith in the original investigations.

“No, I don’t think the military want an amnesty. The bottom line is, after every incident that involved the SAS, they were interviewed by the then RUC.

“There was a post report and if there had been something done illegally, it would have been highlighted then.”

He added: “Obviously it was not a good period for Northern Ireland.

“We would come over, we were predominantly working in plain clothes... we weren’t walking the streets and we would react to various situations.”

Asked why it was such a difficult period for him, Ryan explained: “I think the Troubles were destroying a great part of the United Kingdom and it was a lot of innocent people who were being affected by a few people who couldn’t sit round a table and talk.”

His Troubles deployment made a lasting impression.

“We weren’t restricted like the green [uniformed] Army... we could get out and whether we were doing orientation or we just wanted to go and see somewhere, we had free travel.

“We could go out and enjoy the restaurants and the bars.”

He eventually married a woman from Northern Ireland and they still own a house here.

“It wasn’t the best time of my life [serving during the Troubles] but I actually love the country, I love being over there and walking and biking up and down the coastline.”

He added: “I love the place I think it’s one of the most friendly places in the UK.”