Righting an old Irish wrong
The Irish government has taken a symbolic step to right a historic wrong today with the publication of an Amnesty and Immunity Bill which pardons 4,893 Irish soldiers who deserted during the last war to go and fight for the Allies against the Nazis.
Eamon de Valera’s government punished them with what was described in the Dail at the time as the “starvation order”, banning them from all forms of public employment for seven years. “The repercussions were dire for their families,” Robert Widders, author of the book Spitting on a Soldier’s Grave said.
“In 1940s Ireland if you were banned from employment and couldn’t get benefits then you could starve. A few of these soldier had independent means, but most of them were from very poor working class families. They were condemned without trial, representation or right of reply.”
Alan Shatter, Ireland’s Justice minister said: “I hope that the action we have taken on this issue will put to rest the concerns of those individuals still alive, who fought for freedom and against tyranny with the allied forces. I also hope it lifts a veil for the families of those who have already died.”Tagged in: Alan Shatter, ireland
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