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Northern Ireland

Ministers Must 'Get A Grip' And Stop 'Witch-Hunt' Against NI Veterans, Ex-Army Officer Says

Conservative MP Bob Stewart said he was "ashamed" that successive governments had been "complicit" in the pursuit of veterans.

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A former Army officer has urged ministers to "get a grip" and stop the "witch-hunt" against Northern Ireland veterans.

Conservative MP Bob Stewart, who completed seven tours of Northern Ireland, said he was "ashamed" that successive governments had been "complicit" in the pursuit of veterans.

He also insisted those who served in Northern Ireland must be included in legal protections to prevent repeated investigations into historical allegations, saying "our soldiers need protection".

Mr Stewart, MP for Beckenham, referred to the Yellow Card rules of engagement and said decisions to open fire were "incredibly difficult", amid fears innocent people could be hurt in the crossfire.

Mr Stewart said "huge anger among the veteran community" over the investigations is "unsurprising".

"Quite rightly they ask, 'What are you Members of Parliament doing to help us? You sent us there. You gave us this bloody card, you said if we used it and acted in accordance with it we'd be protected'," he said.

"Now our soldiers need protection. They need our protection."

Burned out houses in Conway Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland during the Troubles
Burned out houses in Belfast during the Troubles in 1969 (Picture: PA).

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt is expected to face MPs in the Commons on Tuesday to outline her proposals to provide veterans with better protection from historical allegations.

Last week, she said she thought proposed legislation protecting personnel from historical prosecutions "should cover Northern Ireland".

A number of Northern Ireland veterans are facing charges, including Soldier F, who is facing charges over the Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry in 1972.