Republican News · Thursday 15 June 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Drugs squaddies to go but killers stay on

The mother of Belfast teenager Peter McBride, shot dead by British soldiers in 1992, has reacted angrily to reports in Scottish newspapers that soldiers are to be dismissed following positive testing for drugs.

According to the reports, eight members of the Royal Scots, including an NCO, will be served with dismissal papers this week after failing drug tests. An Army spokesman at the Colchester barracks, Simon Smith, said last week: ``We are in the process of finishing the paperwork and they will all be officially dismissed next week.'' The Army spokesman went on to add that the British Army had a ``zero tolerance drugs policy.''

Jean Mc Bride, who has campaigned for five years for the dismissal of the two Scots Guards convicted of murder for killing her 18-year-old son, has reacted furiously to the news. ``These drugs tests were carried out in April,'' she said. ``Just two months later and the men are to be dismissed. Wright and Fisher were convicted in 1995 and my family is still fighting to have them dismissed. What a bunch of hypocrites to claim that taking drugs brings shame on the British Army while shooting an innocent teenager in the back does not. If they had any decency they would have a zero tolerance murder policy.''

It has also emerged that eleven soldiers from the Black Watch Regiment face dismissal following positive drugs testing. Commanding officer Lt. Col. Ronnie Bradford has applied for their immediate dismissal, saying: ``These eleven men have tarnished the name of the battalion and the army.''

The Mc Bride family are currently awaiting the decision of an Army Board on the fate of the Scots Guards convicted of the murder of Peter Mc Bride. In September 1999, the family won a judicial review of the original Army Board ruling that the two could remain in the British Army.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) faces a possible added difficulty if the new Army Board decides to allow the two to remain on. Over the past decade, over 2,000 soldiers have been dismissed for lesser offences than murder. If Wright and Fisher are allowed to continue serving, some of those dismissed may choose to judicially challenge their own dismissals in light of the Scots Guards' case. This could have the potential to unleash an avalanche of claims against the MoD.

In addition, the Mc Bride family have vowed to take their own case to the European Court if necessary.

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