Pardon for Irish Troops Dubbed Deserters 07.05.13





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Published on May 8, 2013

*Archive footage courtesy British Pathé*

A pardon is expected to be issued today to thousands of Irish soldiers branded as deserters for joining the British Army to fight Nazi Germany.

The Irish Government is set to enact legislation to grant an amnesty to the former troops - who were blacklisted for helping the British fight Hitler.

Dublin's Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, said the historic move will make amends for the past and recognise the courage and bravery of those individuals court-martialed or dismissed from the defence forces when they fought on the Allied side to protect decency and democracy during the Second World War.

Mr Shatter has already apologised to the ex-soldiers, who were dismissed en masse from the Irish Army under special powers introduced during the Second World War, known as the Emergency in neutral Ireland.

The Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Bill 2012 provides for the granting of an amnesty and immunity from prosecution to 5,000 Irish soldiers who fought with the Allies.

They had been found guilty by a military tribunal at the time of going absent without leave.

Special powers brought in - which became known as the starvation order - saw the deserters barred from state jobs, refused military pensions and faced with widespread discrimination.

Mr Shatter has said the pardon would make an important difference to thousands of families in Ireland and goes some way to right the wrongs of the past.

"Unfortunately, many of the individuals whose situation is addressed in this Bill did not live to see the day that this state finally acknowledged the important role that they played in seeking to ensure a free and safe Europe," he added.


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