Europe

Pardoned WWII Irish soldier lays memorial wreath

Phil Farrington at the memorial
Image caption Phil Farrington served in France and Germany with the British army

An Irish World War II veteran granted a pardon after fighting in the British army has laid a wreath to remember his comrades.

Phil Farrington joined relatives and supporters at Islandbridge war memorial in Dublin to remember men who joined Allied forces and were blacklisted on their return to the Irish Republic.

The Irish government announced a pardon for them in May.

Three poppy wreaths with Irish tricolour flags attached were laid.

Peter Mulvany, co-ordinator of the Irish Soldiers' Pardons Campaign, said their fight to clear the names of thousands of soldiers has ended.

"The event has to be held to mark the passing and signing of the amnesty into Irish law. It is an unprecedented piece of legislation which clears all concerned," he said.

"We wanted to hold it sometime around June, sometime around when the campaign for an amnesty started in earnest in 2011, on June 6.

"That's also the date that one of the Irish lads who left to fight with the Allies died in the D-Day landings, Private Joseph Mullaly."

Phil Farrington, 91, laid one of the wreaths. Mr Farrington, from Seville Place in Dublin's north inner city, was 19 when he enlisted in the British army.

He served in France and Germany and helped to liberate Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Two wreaths will be taken to the UK and laid at war memorials during Remembrance services in November to mark the Irish men and women forced to emigrate after returning from the war.

Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter announced a pardon in May for the thousands of soldiers who fought Nazi Germany and apologised for their treatment.

The men were dismissed en masse from the Irish army, blacklisted, branded deserters at home and denied public sector jobs and welfare.

About 5,000 Irish soldiers who fought with the Allies had been found guilty by a military tribunal at the time of going absent without leave.

The occasion is also being marked by emigrants in Australia, New Zealand and Burma.

Tim Lough, vice-chairman of the Royal British Legion in Buenos Aires, will lay a wreath at the British War Memorial in La Chacarita.

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