Thousands of veterans protested the prosecution of soldiers who served in Northern Ireland today
The simultaneous demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Belfast were intended to contrast the “witch hunt” prosecution of soldiers with the pardons given to terrorists.
A protest by 500 veterans in Belfast took place amid tight security while yards away 200 Republicans brandished banners accusing soldiers of murder during the Troubles.
Ulster Unionist Stormont Assembly member Doug Beattie, who won a Military Cross while serving in the Army in Afghanistan, told the rally: “We all deserve justice.
“What we are seeing now is a Frankenstein version of justice which is all focused one way and no other way.
“We don’t want preferential treatment. If you break the law you should face the law be you a soldier, policeman, member of the public or politician. But what we are seeing here is an imbalance.”
The simultaneous demonstrations took place in London, Glasgow and Belfast
Jim McCaw, who served in the Royal Artillery, Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish Regiment said: “We feel the veterans are being left behind. We are not looking for anything special. We are looking for equality.
We are not looking for anything special. We are looking for equality
“There are people here who have been through the courts twice, found not guilty and now being put through the courts again. It is totally unacceptable, especially when people are getting on-the-run letters and royal pardons.”
Last year, two former soldiers were told they will be prosecuted for murder over the 1972 death of official IRA commander Joe McCann.
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The rallies were organised by Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans
In a separate case retired soldier Dennis Hutchings, 75, from Torpoint in Cornwall, is to face trial after being accused of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm in relation to a fatal shooting in 1974.
He joined 3,000 veterans and supporters at the London rally near Horse Guards Parade and said he was “absolutely gutted” to be facing trial.
He said: “Of course I’m feeling nervous about it because you don’t know what way it’s going to go.”
The rallies were organised by Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans which claims soldiers are being subject to a “witch hunt”.
JFNIV organiser Alan Barry, a former Grenadier Guardsman, said: “No soldier ever left barracks with the intention of committing murder.
They claim soldiers are being subject to a 'witch hunt'
“When we left barracks, we left barracks on patrol, and if we were fired at, we fired back.”
In Glasgow 2100 veterans marched in the city centre, led by a pipe band.
Alan Dalgliesh, 53, who served with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards between 1979 and 1994, said: “It’s a bit of a witch-hunt for me.
“You join up, take your allegiance and you’re doing it for the Government and now they’re backtracking and getting folk for their duty.
“It’s just wrong that you’re just waiting for that knock on the door about something that happened years ago which you did as your job.
“Every regiment, every veteran is united on this. I’ve heard of a couple of guys who’ve had a knock on their door (from police) asking: ‘What happened here, what happened there?’
“But why? It’s your duty, and that’s what we did.”