Belfast Telegraph

Ex-SAS soldier who served during Troubles against amnesty for British Army veterans

A former SAS soldier turned author has said that British Army veterans who committed wrong-doing in Northern Ireland should be prosecuted.

Chris Ryan (a pen-name) served with the SAS in Northern Ireland and Iraq before becoming a best-selling military fiction author.

He said that while there should not be an amnesty for veterans, Northern Ireland needed to start to "look forward" instead of back.

There have been calls in Parliament for an amnesty to be introduced to protect British Army veterans from prosecution in relation to killings during the Troubles.

A legacy consultation is currently ongoing to decide the best way to deal with outstanding issues from the conflict.

Mr Ryan was speaking to the BBC ahead of the launch of his latest novel.

While in the SAS Mr Ryan was highly decorated, spending ten years in the elite regiment.

During the Gulf War he set a record for the "longest escape and evasion in the history of the SAS" after escaping across a desert when his team was captured and killed.

While serving in Northern Ireland Mr Ryan met his wife and they still maintain a house in the country.

When asked if there should be an amnesty to protect British Army veterans Mr Ryan said it was time for Northern Ireland to move on from the past.

"I've spoken to several of the guys who have actually been brought over to Northern Ireland to be re-interviewed," he said.

"If we keep looking back, we're never going to be able to look forward or move forward.

"If somebody has done something wrong then they will be prosecuted but as I said, it's this whole thing about trying to move forward."

However Mr Ryan did say that many of the incidents had been previously investigated.

"I don't think the military want an amnesty. The bottom line is, after every incident that involved the SAS, they were interviewed by the then RUC.

"There was a post report and if there had been something done illegally, it would have been highlighted then."

He told the BBC's Sunday News programme about his experiences serving in Northern Ireland.

"Obviously it was not a good period for Northern Ireland," Mr Ryan said.

"We would come over, we were predominantly working in plain clothes, we weren't walking the streets and we would react to various situations."

"I think the Troubles were destroying a great part of the United Kingdom and it was a lot of innocent people who were being affected by a few people who couldn't sit round a table and talk."

He said that despite his experiences during the Troubles he still maintains a fondness for Northern Ireland.

"We weren't restricted like the green Army, we could get out and whether we were doing orientation or we just wanted to go and see somewhere, we had free travel.

"We could go out and enjoy the restaurants and the bars."

"It wasn't the best time of my life, but I actually love the country, I love being over there and walking and biking up and down the coastline."

"I love the place I think it's one of the most friendly places in the UK."

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