The mother of a Dublin-born soldier who died while serving in Iraq with the British army's Irish Guards used a St Patrick’s Day visit to the regiment in South Armagh by Princess Anne to condemn the war.
Mary Malone was invited to the regimental celebrations at Bessbrook today where the Princess presented shamrock to members of the First Battalion, Irish Guards, who are currently serving on the border.
Her son, Lance Corporal Ian Mallone, 28, was killed by a sniper outside Basra on April 6 last year, along with Zimbabwean colleague Piper Christopher Muzvuru, 20.
Mrs Malone, who travelled from her home in Dublin for the Border ceremony and religious service, said she tried not to feel bitter about the death of her son - the only Irishman to die during the war.
But she said: “I don’t think the war should ever have happened. It was not necessary. There was no need for the war at all.”
Speaking at the military base as the ceremony got under way, she added: “I was fairly bitter but you cannot go through life being bitter because Ian wouldn’t have wanted that – my son was a proud man and very proud to be in the Irish Guards so for his sake I try not to be bitter.
“Since the war has ended so many have died, I think it was totally unnecessary.”
Despite her feelings about the war she said it was a “great honour” to have been invited and to meet her son’s colleagues, some of whom she said, visited her in Dublin when they were in the capital.
“He was very proud of the regiment and he enjoyed every moment of it and he made great friends.”
Fighting back her grief she said it had been “a very hard and very tough year” since he died.
Prior to the parade Mrs Mallone presented the regimental pipe major Rod Allan with a cap star, to be known as the Basra Star, which was specially commissioned by the Lance Corporals’ Mess in memory of Lance Corporal Mallone and Piper Muzvuru.
After the ceremony the Princess Royal had lunch with the officers and men of the Irish Guards.
In presenting the shamrock to the regiment, Princess Anne was taking over a family tradition which her grandmother, the Queen Mother, carried out every year from 1965 until her death.
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Knaggs said it was a great honour to have the Princess continue in her grandmother’s footsteps.