27th November 2015

Arrest of British Soldiers forty-three years after the fact

It was announced today (10th November 2015) that a member of the Parachute Regiment was arrested for actions carried out on ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Londonderry in 1972. It is important to remember that this as yet anonymous soldier has not been charged with an offence.

The bitter feelings of those who lost members of their families to gunfire on that day are understandable and last a lifetime. Their desire for the truth is valid but is this also a desire for revenge?

I cannot help but compare the ‘mistakes’ made by members of the armed forces with the behaviour of Provisional IRA gunmen on that day whose intention was to deliberately inflame and provoke an incident to further their political agenda.

The Good Friday agreement in 1998 led to the release of convicted terrorists who had committed atrocities across the whole of the UK that led to the deaths of ordinary folk in streets, pubs and clubs. The IRA planned the murders of members of the security forces who were placed in Northern Ireland to keep the peace between the two sectarian groups. As an example of their violence I recall the murder of two 17 year old soldiers who were killed, stripped naked, mutilated and dumped near Ligoniel in Belfast. The IRA never released any prisoners, never applied the rule of law to any situation and used murder as a route to political power.

The question therefore must be asked, what is the reason for attempting to punish individual soldiers who believed they were under fire, who were operating under the orders of their senior officers at the request of the British Government? Who is going to benefit? The former members of terrorist groups who are in government? The expensive lawyers who have made fortune representing different parties for forty years? Or is this just another deal to keep the lid on the constant threat of a return to violence, another low ranking soldier cast to the wolves as a sacrifice to ‘real politic’?

No resolution can come from pursuing this individual; the truth of each person present on the day is diluted by the passing of time and their individual prejudices.

If the atrocious actions of the IRA, UDA, and other sectarian groups have been put aside in the cause of peace in Northern Ireland then it is time for this campaign to accept that sometimes to have peace you have to forgive and forget.

Robin Horsfall

Robin Horsfall served five tours with the British Army in Northern Ireland between 1975 and 1984.

Published by: super.user in Uncategorised

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