Furious Northern Ireland veterans take aim at Whitehall for ‘betraying nation’s military’
MILITARY leaders are gearing up for an offensive against Whitehall over the ‘disgusting’ treatment of ageing veterans at risk of prosecution over Bloody Sunday.
It comes as anger continues to boil over in the nation’s armed forces community, which is outraged at the treatment of Soldier F, the British veteran charged with the murder of a teenage boy during the 1972 incident in Northern Ireland.
Now a leading infantry officer, who grew up in Cowplain, is preparing to lobby a government minister, demanding the charges are dropped.
Northern Ireland veteran Chris Parker, chairman of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Association which represents hundreds of soldiers across the Portsmouth area, has vowed to write a letter to veterans minister, Tobias Ellwood to express his disgust.
The retired Lieutenant Colonel said he was sickened by the treatment of his fellow serviceman and branded it a betrayal to the nation’s military.
Speaking exclusively to The News, Lt Col Parker – who was the chief of staff of the 8,000-strong 7th Armoured Brigade in the Middle East – said: ‘Veterans are becoming exasperated and feel totally let down and angry.
‘Are we now a nation that decides its veterans can be abused in their old age whilst terrorists retire with money and immunity?’
The comments come as veterans ready themselves for another round of protests following a rally in London earlier this month, which saw as many as 20,000 taking to the streets of Westminster in part of the ‘Rolling Thunder’ bike procession.
One former Lieutenant, who served as a platoon commander in the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment and took part in the rally, said his comrades felt sickened.
The 60-year-old, who The News is not naming, served eight years in the army and completed two tours of Northern Ireland in the late 70s. He said: ‘What’s happening right now is madness. I know a lot of the guys are so sickened they’re thinking of throwing away their medals.
‘I was on the streets of Northern Ireland and it was a horrible place to be.
‘There were riots and you would have bricks and excrement thrown at you. It was incredibly violent. Then they would all just disappear.
‘I know of an 18-year-old Green Jacket who got caught by a gang. They told him to hand over his weapon.
‘He must have been terrified. He handed over his gun – then they killed him. It was nasty over there.’
The veteran said there was growing support for a second rally to take place, claiming campaigners were looking to take to the streets of Londonderry later this month.
It comes as up to 20 soldiers still face being formally questioned by police for alleged murder, attempted murder or criminal injury during Bloody Sunday.
Meanwhile it emerged last week more than 180 alleged IRA members on the run were granted ‘get out of jail free’ cards as part of the Northern Ireland peace process.
The conflict began in the late 1960s. It formally ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
More than 1,000 British soldiers were killed during the conflict.