Paras’ leader should be stripped of his OBE

ON January 30, 1972, 14 civilians were shot dead in Derry by soldiers from the First Parachute Battalion, under the command of Lt Col Derek Wilford. He was exonerated by the now discredited Widgery tribunal and six months later he was awarded the OBE Queen Elizabeth, probably on the advice of British prime minister Edward Heath.

This was perhaps one of the greatest insults to the relatives of the victims of these shootings. There are many honourable units in the British army and many honourable soldiers also.

The behaviour of members of the First Parachute Battalion in Derry in 1972, and elsewhere, indicates underlying behavioural and disciplinary problems.

While it is unlikely that any of the soldiers involved in these shootings will be punished for these crimes, at the very least the decision to award the OBE to Lt Col Wilford should be rescinded. The Saville report found he disobeyed orders on Bloody Sunday, but he bears far more serious command responsibility for the deaths of 14 innocent people.

Edward Horgan

Newtown

Castletroy

Co Limerick

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