MP claims city ‘cold house for veterans’ after parade postponed

Veterans had planned to march to the War Memorial in the Diamond.
Veterans had planned to march to the War Memorial in the Diamond.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has claimed the city is being turned into a “cold house for veterans” after a planned campaign parade ran into a storm of protest.

The DUP man was commenting after the organisers of a march to the Diamond War Memorial withdrew their application.

Gregory Campbell MP.

Gregory Campbell MP.

It is understood the Parades Commission was notified on Thursday by the Justice for Veterans UK (JFVUK) group that its application to parade to the Cenotaph on March 4 was being withdrawn.

The veterans had initially said it aimed to highlight ongoing “vindictive” criminal investigations involving former British soldiers. The march was supposed to be one of a number taking place across Northern Ireland during 2017.

Dissident republicans had vowed to confront the veterans during their Londonderry event with the organisation known as Saoradh pledging to organise a “mass mobilisation” of “anti-imperialist organisations”.

Mr Campbell said: “There has been a huge disparity in how former terrorists and former soldiers are being treated in relation to activities, most of which occurred 30 or 40 years ago. Terrorists belonged to organisations, 100% of whose membership were committed to terror and killing, former soldiers belonged to an organisation whose membership was there to try and prevent the terrorists from killing, in doing so a very small number of those soldiers may have been responsible for actions that could be unlawful.

“There is little pursuit of the 100% of terrorists while considerable evidence of action recently relating to pursuing a number of former soldiers, some of whom have already been told they have no case to answer.

“It is regrettable that the veterans parade due to be held in Londonderry next month to highlight this injustice is being postponed.

“To threaten counter protests against a peaceful parade to the cenotaph where a wreath would have been laid, demonstrates how far some are prepared to go to deny legitimate rights to others from whom they disagree.

“This now makes the need for the NIO and the Government to act, all the more urgent, whether a statute of limitations or other such change in legislation, but those who serve in our police and army today need to know that they will not fear pursuit in 40 years time while dissident terrorists of today sleep soundly in their beds.

“Those objecting to this event are trying to turn Londonderry into a cold house for veterans, their forerunners did likewise as they sought to make it the same for Unionists.”