Murals commemorating The Troubles on the side of houses in Londonderry
Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Veterans' Investigations 'A Deep Insult', Former Defence Minister Says

Conservative Mark Francois claims the IRA fighters have been let off "scot-free".

Murals commemorating The Troubles on the side of houses in Londonderry

A former defence minister claims new investigations into former personnel who served in Northern Ireland is "a deep insult".

Conservative MP Mark Francois criticised the treatment of the veterans, saying some former soldiers, including Chelsea Pensioners, are facing investigations over historical allegations.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Mr Francois said:

"One group of veterans who undoubtedly deserve our respect are the veterans of Northern Ireland who served for years on Operation Banner to uphold the rule of law against the IRA.

"Yet some of them now face subsequent investigations 50 years on, even including Chelsea Pensioners, while the IRA are scot-free with letters of comfort from Tony Blair."

His comments came amid newly proposed legislation to provide stronger protection from repeated investigations into historical allegations for veterans of overseas conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Currently, those who served in Northern Ireland are to be excluded from these plans.

Mr Francois added: "To quote 'treat both sides the same' is not only patently ludicrous but a deep insult to those veterans without whose courage there never would have been a Good Friday Agreement in the first place."

Mark Francois: "To quote 'treat both sides the same' is not only patently ludicrous but a deep insult to those veterans" (Picture: UK Government).

Plans have been announced for legislation to provide stronger protection from repeated investigations into historical allegations for veterans of overseas conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The legislation would offer veterans of overseas conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan a "presumption against prosecution" in relation to alleged incidents dating back more than 10 years.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said the Ministry of Defence was consulting on changing its "constitutional role with regard to veterans".

"Although we have obligations under the Stormont House Agreement and we have to approach these things in different ways, our obligations to our veterans, whether they served on an operation on UK soil or whether they served on an operation overseas, are the same obligations."