by Democrat reporter
THE FAMILY of murdered Belfast teenager Peter McBride has mounted a fresh court challenge to a British army board’s decision to allow the two soldiers convicted of the crime in 1992, Mark Wright and James Fisher, to resume their army careers.
The appeal against the judicial-review ruling of Lord Justice Kerr was heard in the Belfast Court of Appeal in mid-January and a judgement is expected before Easter. If the appeal is rejected the family has vowed to take the case to Europe.
“I have promised Tony Blair that I will fight for my murdered son so long as there is a breath left in my body,” said Peter McBride’s mother, Jean.
“I spent 18 years raising a son. If I have to spend another 18 years to get his murderers expelled from the British army I will. Every day that Wright and Fisher remain in the army is an insult to his memory and sends a message that the life of a young Irish lad is worthless. I will never accept that,” she said.
To date, the prime minister has refused to meet Jean McBride in person and has failed to provide her with reasons why the two soldiers should be allowed to stay in the army.
Wright and Fisher have until recently been based with the Irish Guards in Muenster, Germany. However, it was confirmed recently that the regiment is one of those being sent to the Gulf in preparation for the war against Iraq.
The decision has been heavily criticised by Jean McBride: “God help the young people of Baghdad and Basra if soldiers with a track record of shooting unarmed teenagers in the back are being sent out.”
The family’s recent court challenge is the latest move in its intensifying campaign for justice. Towards the end of last year a Christmas-card campaign aimed to ensure that Tony Blair received 20,000 seasonal greetings calling for the soldiers’ dismissal.
The card campaign and the latest court appeal follow a ministerial response to a question in the Westminster parliament making it clear that there were “no foreseeable circumstances” where soldiers who had been discharged for minor drugs offences would be recalled in the event of war.
At the time Jean McBride described the MoD’s policy on who is fit to serve as a British soldier as having the “moral authority of a Taliban decree on the rights of women”.
“Adam Ingram, minister of state for defence, is telling me that a soldier who smoked a joint is unfit to serve his country while the two Scots Guards who murdered my son are,” she said.
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Copyright © 2003 Connolly Publications Ltd