Republican News · Thursday 07 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Protests in Australia and Europe

As well as the protest in London, events took place around the world on Friday 1 December as part of the International Day of Action on behalf of the family of Peter McBride. Supporters also gathered in Sydney, Australia and Frankfurt and Berlin in Germany to protest against the retention of the two Scots Guards.

In Sydney, protesters held a lunchtime protest at the British Consulate. Supporters holding giant placards explained details of the case to passers-by through a loudhailer and hundreds of leaflets were handed out. The British Consul General agreed to forward a letter of protest to the Ministry of Defence in response to their reply to an earlier letter handed in during the Day of Action in September. Security around the Consulate was high, with Australian Federal Police, Australian Protective Services and building security officers present.

In Frankfurt, a delegation from various groups submitted a letter of protest to the British General Consulate. One member of the delegation was allowed through tight security to have a 20-minute meeting with the British Consul, during which the dismissal of Fisher and Wright was demanded. A letter of protest was also handed in to the British Embassy in Berlin.

Parallel to these activities, a German lawyer sent a letter to the German Minister of Defence raising questions in relation to the current debate in Germany about the exclusion of persons from the Federal Army who have committed serious crimes. The letter questioned whether these rules should also apply to British soldiers serving in Germany; that is, whether convicted murderers should be allowed to serve as soldiers on German soil? It is believed that Fisher and Wright are currently stationed with the British Army on the Rhine. The letter asked all party political spokespersons on military affairs to state their position on this matter.

Irish Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna released a statement on Friday promising to raise the killing of Peter McBride and the continued employment of his killers by the British Army in the European Parliament. She described the Army Board's decision as ``outrageous...It is very disturbing that two convicted murderers should benefit from a special derogation to rules that are quite clear and strict on such matters. How come these two men convicted of murdering an 18-year-old unarmed civilian are allowed to continue their career in the British Army while in the meantime over 1,400 soldiers have been dismissed from the same army for taking drugs? Why is it that British soldiers based in Northern Ireland always appear to be given special treatment? ...The Army Board decision could easily be interpreted as condoning murder...''

A motion condemning the decision will be put before the Dáil in coming days.

On Friday, the Presbyterian Moderator in Ireland, Trevor Morrow, told a BBC interviewer that he could not support the retentiont of the two Guardsmen in the British Army. Seamus Close of the Alliance Party described the retention as `obscene.'

The next International Day of Action will be held on Thursday 24 May 2001 to mark the United Nations adoption of the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.

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