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Irish members of the British army during the second world war Photo by: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corb

Irish soldiers who fought Hitler are finally issued State pardon

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Irish members of the British army during the second world war Photo by: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corb

Irish Army soldiers who deserted to fight Hitler with the Allies received a state pardon on Tuesday afternoon.

The Irish Independent
reports that thousands of Irish soldiers received an official amnesty and apology from the Government yesterday.

History was made when the Dublin parliament enacts the Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Bill 2012.

The bill was introduced by Justice and Defence Minister Alan Shatter and provides for the granting of an amnesty and apology to troops who went absent without leave during the war and joined the Allies to fight the Nazis.

Minster Shatter told the paper that the enactment of the new act would put right a serious injustice to the brave soldiers.

He said: “Tens of thousands of Irish people put their lives at risk during World War Two in the fight against fascism and tyranny.

“They included approximately 5,000 members of our Defence Forces who absented themselves without leave or permission and who were either court martialed or simply dismissed from the Defence Forces.

“When they returned to Ireland at the end of the war, they were treated shamefully by the State, despite their bravery.

“They were excluded for over seven years from employment by the State or by any state body and were essentially treated as outcasts.

“Today in Dail Eireann, the Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Bill will complete its enactment through both Houses of the Oireachtas.

“It is being enacted in recognition of the courage and bravery of those individuals court martialed or dismissed from the Defence Forces who fought on the Allied side to protect decency and democracy during World War II.

“It gives important statutory expression to the apology given by me on behalf of the State last year for the shameful manner in which they were treated.

“The enactment of this legislation makes an important difference to thousands of families in the State and goes some way to right the wrongs of our past.”

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