Supporting John Pat and his family

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After a British Army killer received an exaggerated and politicised military funeral in England on Thursday, there are calls for people to remember his innocent victim, John Pat Cunningham, by holding up a simple sign and photographing it.

Mr Cunningham, a vulnerable adult, was murdered in cold blood as he ran away from his British army patrol across a field near Benburb, County Tyrone, in June 1974.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson and fellow DUP MP Carla Lockhart were at the Remembrance Day (Poppy Day) funeral of his killer, Dennis Hutchings. His reported death three weeks earlier from Covid-19 ended his trial, bringing a sudden and inconclusive end to a campaign for justice for John Pat that spanned more than 47 years.

Even before his “hero’s funeral”, his family and friends were reeling from acres of jingoistic press coverage.

Speaking at his funeral, former defence minister Johnny Mercer MP called Hutchings “a good man” and “the best example of the British non-commissioned officer”.

The victim’s family, however, could only look on in growing revulsion as the man accused of shooting their relative was regally carried into church by members of the Life Guards Regiment, complete with motorcycle outriders.

The Ministry of Defence, exceptionally, authorised military pallbearers despite Hutchings dying not in battle but of natural causes, half-way through a trial where he faced serious charges.

On Saturday people who support the bereaved Cunningham family are being asked to stand silently in solidarity with them, throughout Ireland, and abroad. They are asked to declare ‘His name was John Pat Cunningham’ to remember the victim amidst all the military jamboree.

The Pat Finucane Centre is organising the memorial on social media. They wrote: “This Saturday, 13 November, at 1pm, Support the Cunningham family. Take a photo while holding a sign ‘His name was John Pat Cunningham’ and post to social media with the tag #HisNameWasJohnPatCunningham.

“Please tag your location in the post and copy in @finucanecentre (so the family will see it).

“Don’t forget to copy in @10downingst and @DefenceHQ too so they know you support John Pat’s family.”

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