Northern Ireland

Veterans' march moved to Coleraine after Londonderry dispute

Coleraine town hall in the Diamond area of the town Image copyright © Kenneth Allen/CC Geograph
Image caption The march will head towards Coleraine town hall

Organisers of a march for military veterans, which was cancelled in Londonderry due to security fears, have rearranged the event.

The parade by the campaign group, Veterans for Justice UK, is now set to take place in Coleraine, County Londonderry, on Saturday 4 March.

The original plan was to hold the march in Derry on the same date.

However relatives of Bloody Sunday victims objected, saying it was an "insult" to the people of the city.

John Kelly, whose brother was one of 14 Bloody Sunday victims killed by soldiers who opened fire on a civil rights march in Derry in 1972, had described the original plan as "an act of pure provocation".

'Carry on'

The Derry parade was called off last week amid reports of counter-demonstrations planned by republicans.

Veterans for Justice UK has now lodged a fresh application with the Parades Commission to march through the centre of Coleraine.

The group said it expects 150 marchers to take part in the parade, which will start and finish at the Royal British Legion.

Last week, march organiser Anto Wickham said the aim of the event was to protect soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan facing "false prosecutions".

Mr Wickham said he was "upset" by suggestions that the Derry march had been planned to raise tensions in the city.

He told Tuesday's Belfast Telegraph: "With help from the Royal British Legion in Coleraine, we are now able to parade and carry on our fight for justice".

Impartiality

In recent months, a number of former soldiers and Conservative MPs have complained that Army veterans were being unfairly targeted by investigations into Troubles-era killings.

In January, hundreds of veterans marched through London to demand an end to the prosecutions.

A London-based law firm representing a number of ex-soldiers also called for an independent inquiry into the prosecution process.

The criticism drew a response from Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC, who defended his impartiality.

Mr McGrory told the BBC last month that critics who accuse him of treating former soldiers unfairly had insulted him and his office.

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