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18 March 1999 Edition

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Brit killers for peacekeeping role

By Padraig MacDabhaid

Relatives of those killed by the British army have reacted angrily to the news that the NATO force heading for Kosovo on peacekeeping duties is to be headed by a British soldier who served with the Paras in Derry on Bloody Sunday and under his command will be Mark Wright and James Fisher, the two British soldiers convicted of the 1992 murder of North Belfast teenager Peter McBride.

The head of the force, General Mike Jackson, was an adjutant in Derry on Bloody Sunday. It has now come to light that the General's name has been given to the Saville inquiry into the massacre.

Jean McBride has reacted with anger at the decision which has been made worse by the news that the men convicted of shooting her son in the back are to receive a peacekeeping medal. She said, ``what is it coming to when convicted killers are celebrated in such a way by NATO. It is bad enough that these two have been allowed to stay in the British army. The fact that they are now to be handed back their guns and sent off to Kosovo to keep the peace is beyond belief''.

Tony Doherty, whose father was murdered on Bloody Sunday added that it was wrong to send those who were not only unable to keep the peace in Ireland but actively broke the peace on such duties.

It is widely believed that the British MoD is putting such men on peacekeeping duty as a PR stunt, a view echoed by Mrs McBride who said of her sons killers, ``I have no doubt that there will be some kind of attempt to make these two out to be some kind of heroes when they come back from Kosovo''.

There, however, could be a more sinister side to the decision. Jean McBride has also suggested that when her action to have her sons killers thrown out of the army comes before the courts their role as peace keepers will be used in evidence on their behalf. This is a particularly worrying development given that General Mike Jackson may also be investigated in the new Bloody Sunday inquiry.
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