PARDONED; 26 Irish WWI soldiers shot at dawn finally get justice.
TWENTY-SIX Irish soldiers shot at dawn for military offences during the First World War were formally pardoned by the British Government yesterday.
Ninety years after they were executed by firing squad for "cowardice and desertion", legislation has been enacted to clear their names.
The move comes after the Irish Shot At Dawn Campaign tried for years to prove the volunteers - many in their teens - should never have been killed.
Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said the pardons showed the men met a fate they did not deserve.
He added: "The legislation recognises execution was not a fate these men deserved. This will be formally recorded in their files."
All soldiers executed for military offences while serving with the British army will be pardoned.
Speaking in London, Mr Ahern said: "The [Irish] Government gave its support to the Irish Shot At Dawn Campaign in the hope that a retrospective pardon would bring comfort to their families.
"Our support was also given in recognition of the wider experience and sacrifice of the people of Ireland during the First World War."
The names of the 26 executed soldiers will be added to the Irish National War Memorial Records.
In October 2004, the Government submitted a report to the British detailing the background to each battlefield execution.
It claimed that one Irishman was shot for being absent from his post for 45 minutes and another executed as an "example".
The report also alleged a disparity in the treatment of Irish soldiers and claimed the Courts Martial system was fundamentally flawed.
Mr Ahern paid tribute to campaigners who fought for years to secure pardons for the men.
He said: "I would to congratulate Peter Mulvany, the head of the Irish Shot at Dawn Campaign, for his tireless efforts in ensuring that these men were not forgotten."
Pte A Smythe and Pte T Cummings, 1st Irish Guards Pte T Hope and Pte P Downey, Leinster Regiment Pte T Davis, Pte J Graham, Royal Munster Fusiliers Lance Corporal P Sands, Rifleman J Crozier, Rifleman J F McCracken, Rifleman J Templeton and Rifleman S McBride, Royal Irish Rifles Pte J Cassidy, Pte T Murphy (aka T Hogan), Pte J Wishart, Pte J Hepple (aka R Hope) and Pte J Seymour, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Pte J Carey and Pte G Hanna, Royal Irish Fusiliers Pte M Monaghan (aka S Byrne), 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers Pte B O'Connell, Irish Guards Pte P Murphy, Machine Gun Corps Driver J Mullany and Driver J Bell, Royal Field Artillery Pte B McGeehan (Irish) King's Liverpool Pte A Hamilton Durham Light Infantry Pte J Wilson, Canadian Infantry
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