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23 April 1998 Edition

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McBride killers still in British Army

By Ned Kelly

In response to parliamentary questions tabled by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn on behalf of the Pat Finucane Centre the British Secretary of State for Defence has admitted that the two Scots Guards convicted of the 1992 murder of North Belfast teenager Peter McBride have not been dismissed from the British Army.

Jean McBride, mother of the murdered 18-year-old, has demanded an explanation from Minister of Defence George Robertson. She asked, ``did the murder of my son mean nothing to the MOD? What kind of message does this send to my family and the people of North Belfast? Peter was shot down like a dog in the street yet his murderers aren't even dismissed from the British Army.''

In a further development NIO minister Lord Dubs said on Monday that the release of Jim Fisher and Mark Wright would ``not be delayed as a result of the peace process, indeed it might be accelerated.''

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Derry-based Human Rights Group, the Pat Finucane Centre has slammed the ``sheer arrogance and dishonesty of the MOD in relation to the status of the two Scots Guards.'' They pointed out that if a health authority refused to sack a nurse convicted of murder there would be uproar.

The spokesperson said, ``this brings into sharp relief the hypocrisy of the entire discussion surrounding the proposed release of prisoners. Hundreds of families bereaved through state violence are excluded from the debate.''

The spokesperson told An Phoblacht, ``while accepting the release of these two as part of general releases, it would be yet another miscarriage of justice, on top of the first injustice which was the murder of Peter McBride if they were released merely because they are British soldiers.''

The British Defence Secretary also admitted that the families of the two Scots Guards ``have their flights to Northern Ireland paid for by the Scots Guards own benevolent fund but the Department does provide transport to and from Maghaberry Prison.'' The Pat Finucane Centre has suggested that families of republican and loyalist prisoners take legal action to demand their right for free transport. On Wednesday it was also confirmed that while the soldiers were not getting any direct payment their families were still eligible for the soldiers' welfare scheme.

 


The Scots Guards Regiment staged a march on Sunday 19 April from Wellington Barracks through central London to the Guards Chapel in Birdcage Walk to call for the release of the killers of Belfast teenager Peter McBride, Mark Fisher and James Wright.
The march, which is an annual commemoration, was entirely dedicated this time around to the campaign to get the two out of jail early. However, the march was met by a strong counter-protest outside the entrance to the barracks, organised by Fuascailt, which called for the release of all those imprisoned as a result of the conflict.

In the meantime, the Guards have set up a web page in support of Fisher and Wright at http:/www.taynet.co.uk/users/nemone/sg2.htm Fuascailt is urging everyone to email them to reiterate the need to release all prisoners.
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