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Soldiers vindicated after 70 years

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Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the move will honour the bravery of Irish soldiers who fought against Nazi Germany

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the move will honour the bravery of Irish soldiers who fought against Nazi Germany

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the move will honour the bravery of Irish soldiers who fought against Nazi Germany

Irish soldiers who were blacklisted and shunned for joining the British Army to fight Nazi Germany have been vindicated after almost 70 years.

Defence minister Alan Shatter said the courageous men had ensured the safety of the very people at home who disgraced and branded them deserters.

Passing historic legislation in the Irish parliament to grant amnesty to thousands of former troops, the minister insisted their families should be proud.

"These individuals contributed in no small part to the allied victory against tyranny and totalitarianism," Mr Shatter said.

"Their efforts, in an indirect way, also contributed to the safety of their home country.

"If the United Kingdom had fallen to the forces of Nazi Germany, the same fate would almost certainly have been visited on this island, with all of the consequences that would have gone with it."

Around 60,000 citizens of the Republic of Ireland, which was neutral, fought on the Allied side during World War Two.

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Around 5,000 were found guilty by a military tribunal at the time of going absent without leave from the Irish Defence Forces.

Special powers brought in - which became known as the starvation order - saw the deserters barred from state jobs, refused military pensions and faced with widespread discrimination.

But, the Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Bill 2012, passed in the Dail, now provides for the granting of an amnesty and immunity from prosecution.


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