Belfast Telegraph

Backlash over Army pension for IRA bomber Michael Dickson

By Cate McCurry

There has been an angry reaction to a report that a former British soldier who took part in an IRA bomb attack on an Army base is to receive an armed services pension.

Convicted terrorist Michael Dickson, who served with the Royal Engineers for seven years, was jailed for his part in the mortar attack in Germany in 1996.

It has also emerged that he used the address of Sinn Fein's Dublin office to make an application for his Army pension.

His move was condemned by a victims' group and veterans.

Dickson (52), who was dubbed the "renegade bomber", was part of a Provo gang that launched the mortars from a van against a Royal Engineers barracks in Osnabrück.

One narrowly missed a fuel storage container at the base.

The Service Personnel and Veterans' Agency said the convicted terrorist will receive the cash, according to documents seen by the Daily Star Sunday.

After he was tracked down by the newspaper in Dublin, Dickson, who is eligible to claim the money when he is 60, said: "I served my time, it has f*** all to do with you, now f*** off."

Kenny Donaldson, a spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said the Ministry of Defence must now confirm he will not receive the pension.

"The MoD must signal without delay that this convicted terrorist will not receive an Army pension paid for by the UK taxpayer. We implore the MoD to confirm that the pension will not be paid to this convicted terrorist and that they will immediately take steps to review records to establish if there are other Michael Dicksons who could slip through the system in being deemed eligible to receive a pension.

"If this matter is not resolved, then it will be a further injustice not only for terror victims, but also for society at large."

Sinn Fein was asked why it had supported Dickson's application for a pension. However, a spokesman said it was "unaware of any correspondence".

Ulster Unionist MLA Andy Allen, who served in the Royal Irish Regiment, accused Dickson of trying to "provoke tensions". Mr Allen, who was 19 when he had his right leg blown off and left badly injured by a homemade bomb in Afghanistan in 2008, said that the law should prevent him from receiving taxpayers' money.

"There is legislation that would rule out some people under certain circumstances, and I think this clearly has be one of those circumstances, as he committed a terrorist offence," he added.

"I think he's trying to wind people up and he's trying to provoke tensions.

"I would hope that the MoD will look at his case and change their mind, given the fact what he's done."

Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan, who also served in the armed forces, said he planned to raise the issue in the House of Commons.

He said: "Sinn Fein won't sit in Westminster but yet here they are helping someone else take more money off the State that they don't want to be part of.

"It appals me, there are people in the Army who probably did less time but did very brave things and won't get a pension because they didn't do their time."

An MoD spokesman told the Daily Star Sunday: "The Ministry of Defence does not comment on individual pension cases.

"However, the armed forces pension scheme clearly sets out provision for the forfeiture of pension benefits if an individual has been involved in an act that has had serious implications for the defence and security of the State."

Belfast Telegraph

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