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MP criticises exclusion of Irish veterans from British scheme

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  • MP criticises exclusion of Irish veterans from British scheme

    The Irish Times

    Ireland Tue, Mar 02, 04

    MP criticises exclusion of Irish veterans from British scheme
    Patsy McGarry

    A British Labour MP has criticised his government over plans which will exclude Irish veterans of World War II, and their families, from a new scheme announced in the House of Commons yesterday.

    Mr Andrew MacKinlay, MP for Thurrock in Essex, was responding to an announcement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Ivor Caplin, of a "Heroes' Return" programme.

    The scheme would enable all generations to join together to remember and commemorate the 60th anniversary "of the remarkable events of 1944 and 1945 that led to the end of the second World War", he said.

    Mr Caplin said £10 million (€15 million) from Britain's National Lottery would be made available under the programme for many thousands of veterans to return to the overseas areas in which they saw active service.

    Responding to a query by Mr MacKinlay as to whether Irish veterans would be included in the programme, Mr Caplin indicated he did not believe this was possible, as British Lottery money could only be spent on British projects.

    Speaking to The Irish Times last night, Mr MacKinlay said that any such scheme to visit graves or which allowed for reunions of second World War veterans should also be extended to include Irish veterans who had fought with the British army.

    Tens of thousands from the Republic fought in World War 11, he said.

    The then British prime minister Winston Churchill's "Victory in Europe" broadcast on May 13th, 1945, mentioned three Irishmen by name who had won Victoria Crosses during that war, he said.

    Churchill also spoke gratefully of "the temper and instinct of those thousands of Irishmen who went to the battlefield to prove the ancient valour of their race".

    The speech, which many saw as an attack on this State's official policy of neutrality during the second World War, provoked de Valera's well-known broadcast in reply to Churchill.

    Figures as to how many Irishmen fought with the British army during the war vary, but in Irish Men and Women in the Second World War (Four Courts Press), Mr Richard Doherty estimated the figure at 120,000, with 55 per cent from the Republic.

    © The Irish Times

  • #2
    Obviously it would be a British Project but it shouldn't be that hard for the British Legion and various Regimental Associations to arrange for Irish veterans to avail of the scheme. In fact I doubt if tanybody will be able to prevent the Combined Irish Regiments association and others from doing so.
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    • #3
      Military Heritage Tours are very aware of this situation. We are anxious to step in and assist in any way we can. Maybe the Lotto people will be moved to come to the rescue?
      We reckon that at least 100,000 men from the then Free State joined the British Army in WW2. This figure includes at least 5,500 troops who deserted the Irish Army when they realised they were not going to see action at home! This figure does not include RAF, RN, other Commonwealth Forces or US forces.


      • #4
        The situation has now been resolved. UK has revised it's decision and veterans living in the Republic may avail of the scheme.