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5 September 2002 Edition

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Kelly calls for removal of Scots Guards on tenth anniversary

As north Belfast teenager Peter McBride's family marked the tenth anniversary of his killing by British soldiers on Wednesday, Sinn Féin Assembly member for north Belfast Gerry Kelly called for the immediate removal of the two Scots Guards responsible, Fisher and Wright, from the British Army.

"Ten years ago Peter McBride was stopped and searched by a patrol of Scots Guards in the New Lodge area," said Kelly. "He was unarmed. As Peter walked away from the patrol he was shot dead by Mark Wright and James Fisher. Ever since then the McBride family have been fighting for justice for their son.

"After being convicted of murder the two Scots Guards were released from jail within four years and allowed to rejoin their regiment. Every day Fisher and Wright remain in the British Army is another insult to the McBride family.

"I am calling for the immediate removal of these two men from the British armed forces. The nationalist people of north Belfast and throughout Ireland will continue to support the McBride family until justice is achieved."

Supporters of the family of Peter McBride, who were peacefully handing out leaflets demanding the sacking of the two Scots Guards, were forcibly removed from the Tower Of London at just after 2pm on Wednesday afternoon.
They were escorted out by security staff, who threatened to call the police if they did not stop handing out the leaflets. The protest then moved to the main entrance, where a banner demanding justice for the McBride family was unfurled, and leafleting continued despite the threat to call the police. The Scots Guards are currently providing the ceremonial guard at the tower.

Following the strong condemnation of Tony Blair's stance on the issue by SDLP leader Mark Durkan, Alliance Party leader Seamus Close also condemned Blair's inaction over the continued retention of the two Scot's Guards. Speaking on Radio Ulster's Talkback programme he said that "this is a human rights issue and Tony Blair must address it instead of playing Pinky and Perky with George Bush".

Protest actions have also taken place in Belfast, Sheffield and Preston.

Commenting on an exchange of letters between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the SDLP leader Mark Durkan regarding Fisher and Wright, senior backbench Labour MP Kevin McNamara on Tuesday sent a message to Jean McBride, Peter's mother.
He expressed his sorrow that the British government and Ministry of Defence establishment has "had such little regard for a mother's grief and displayed a stubborn and callous insensitivity to the feelings of the community of the New Lodge.

"I am shocked that Tony Blair cannot act to end this contemptible injustice," he said. "For the Prime Minister to assert that the government can have no policy on the issue of whether convicted murderers should be permitted to pursue a career in Her Majesty's Armed Services is frankly deplorable.

"There can be no question of this issue being a 'private matter' between the Army and the Guardsmen concerned.

"Democratic governments the world over have stood together against the culture of impunity employed by the armies of dictators and despots. The military establishment is accused of defending a policy of impunity in this case. I can envisage no defence of their position."
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