THOUSANDS of veterans attended rallies across the UK on Good Friday to protest at the “Frankenstein justice” system hounding soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.
A protest by 500 veterans in Belfast took place amid tight security while yards away 200 Republicans brandished banners accusing soldiers of murder during the Troubles.
Ulster Unionist Stormont Assembly member Doug Beattie, who won a Military Cross while serving in the Army in Afghanistan, told the rally: “We all deserve justice.
“We don’t want preferential treatment. If you break the law you should face the law be you a soldier, policeman, member of the public or politician. But what we are seeing here is an imbalance.”
Last year, two former soldiers were told they will be prosecuted for murder over the 1972 death of official IRA commander Joe McCann.
He joined 3,000 veterans and supporters at the London rally near Horse Guards Parade and said he was “absolutely gutted” to be facing trial.
He said: “Of course I’m feeling nervous about it because you don’t know what way it’s going to go.”
The rallies were organised by Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans which claims soldiers are being subject to a “witch hunt”.
JFNIV organiser Alan Barry, a former Grenadier Guardsman, said: “No soldier ever left barracks with the intention of committing murder.
In Glasgow 2100 veterans marched in the city centre, led by a pipe band.
Alan Dalgliesh, 53, who served with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards between 1979 and 1994, said: “It’s a bit of a witch-hunt for me.
“You join up, take your allegiance and you’re doing it for the Government and now they’re backtracking and getting folk for their duty.
“It’s just wrong that you’re just waiting for that knock on the door about something that happened years ago which you did as your job.
“Every regiment, every veteran is united on this. I’ve heard of a couple of guys who’ve had a knock on their door (from police) asking: ‘What happened here, what happened there?’
“But why? It’s your duty, and that’s what we did.”