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Friday, May 24, 2019

AM questions prosecution of armed forces veterans

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood called for a statement on the Welsh Government’s approach to justice for armed forces veterans who face prosecution and on its engagement, if any, with the UK Government over this.

Mr Isherwood raised the matter in the Business Statement after being asked to do so by Veterans from Flintshire to Anglesey, but was left disappointed by the Minister’s reply.

Speaking in the Chamber, he said: “This weekend, hundreds of protesters marched through Cardiff in support of veterans being prosecuted for historic offences in Northern Ireland, coinciding with protests by veterans across the UK. 

"In 2014, it was discovered that Mr Blair's Government had done a secret deal as part of the Good Friday negotiations, in which letters were sent to known IRA members involved in terrorism, assuring them they would not face prosecution in the future.

“Last week, the Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, announced plans for legislation to provide stronger protection from repeated investigations into historical allegations for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, but she also said, although this wouldn't apply to (those who served in) Northern Ireland, she intended to find a way they could be afforded similar protection, and dealing with the treatment of Northern Ireland veterans was a ‘personal priority’ for her.

“Has the Welsh Government taken a position on this, will it do so, given the protests in Cardiff and the impact on many people living in Wales, and what dialogue has it had, if any, with the UK Government?" 

Responding the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd, Rebecca Evans AM, said: “The issue relating to armed forces veterans is not an issue that is devolved to the Welsh Government, so I suggest that the Member takes it up with the relevant UK Government Minister.”

Speaking outside the Chamber, Mr Isherwood said: “Armed Forces Veterans from Flintshire to Anglesey asked me to raise this in the Assembly. They will find the Welsh Government response more than disappointing.”

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