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Tommy McKenzie from Dublin who served with the Australian Army pays his respects at 43 headstones for Irish servicemen and women from both World Wars who lie in unmarked graves in the cemetery
Tommy McKenzie from Dublin who served with the Australian Army pays his respects at 43 headstones for Irish servicemen and women from both World Wars who lie in unmarked graves in the cemetery
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Ireland’s World War II veterans move one step closer to amnesty

Thousands of Irish servicemen were dismissed or prosecuted for fighting with the Allies during World War II.
Apr 24th 2013, 6:45 AM 7,842 105

AN AMNESTY AND apology for Irish soldiers who deserted from the Defence Forces to fight with the Allies in World War II will move one step closer today.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter will discuss closure for the veterans at a meeting of the Oireachtas Justice Committee this morning.

The Minister published a bill last December which offers immunity from prosecution for the servicemen who were dismissed from the Defence Forces or faced a military tribunal for desertion during the war.

The legislation has passed through two stages of the Dáil already and will take any amendments or changes during the committee meeting today.

It is estimated that more than 7,000 members of the Irish Defence Forces officially deserted during World War II, with many joining the Allied Forces in the fight against Hitler. Of these, around 2,500 faced a military tribunal while around 5,000 were dismissed from service, leading to significant stigma and hardship for the men and their families.

“The Bill will receive detailed consideration and members will have the opportunity to propose and discuss any amendments to the legislation as published,” said David Stanton, the Fine Gael TD who chairs the Justice Committee.

The meeting takes place in Committee Room 2 in Leinster House from 11.15am and can be watched live here.

Read: Hundreds mark 70th anniversary of Warsaw ghetto uprising >

Read: Bill giving amnesty to Irish World War II deserters presented to Dáil >

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Christine Bohan

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