A COMMENT from the Queen of England regarding 'vexatious claims which undermine our armed forces' drew anger from Irish citizens yesterday.
During the Queen's Speech, which marked the resuming of British Parliament and set out the plans of Boris Johnson's government, Queen Elizabeth said that the government would "bring forward proposals to tackle vexatious claims that undermine our armed forces, and will continue to seek better ways of dealing with legacy issues that provide better outcomes for victims and survivors".
The UK Government "will bring forward proposals to tackle vexatious claims that undermine our armed forces and will continue to seek better ways of dealing with legacy issues that provide better outcomes for victims and survivors." pic.twitter.com/n2ox4QilCM
— Darran Marshall (@DarranMarshall) December 19, 2019
Many in Ireland were quick to link the comment with the crimes of members of the British Army while in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, particularly the Bloody Sunday massacre and the high-profile case of 'Soldier F', who is charged with both murder and attempted murder for shooting unarmed civilians in the back as they ran while protesting for human rights.
The comments are being construed as meaning that soldiers accused-- and in some cases charged-- with criminal activity while acting under orders from the British Army, even if those actions caused the death of innocent civilians, will be granted immunity.
Let's forget about state sponsored murder is what she's really saying.
— seamusoceara 🎩🎩 (@seamusoceara) December 19, 2019
people not much older than my parents were gunned down in the streets for daring to join a mass demonstration for their civil rights, and this government sees even the most minimal accountability for that as vexatious, toxic, an affront to patriotism https://t.co/VpsTVaENQ4
— Sean Bernard (@seanbgoneill) December 18, 2019
Reactions to the speech ranged from fury, bewilderment and exasperation, with one person asking "How can you use the word 'vexatious' to describe the 50 year struggle for justice for innocent civilians shot down in cold blood?"
Many more did not hold back in their fury that the struggle for justice was being referred to as 'vexatious', a word which is quite literally a synonym for 'annoying'.
Appeals for justice by the families of civilians killed by British forces are described by the Queen as "vexatious claims". British forces shot unarmed people in Northern Ireland and colluded in attacks killing innocent men, women and children. https://t.co/sBFn3OZjt8
— Caelainn Hogan (@CaelainnH) December 19, 2019
The long struggle for justice by the families of those killed in the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972 eventually led to an investigation which found that just one person would be held accountable.
The man, known only as Soldier F, was charged with the murder of James Wray and William McKinney, who were shot in the back by Soldier F as they ran for cover, with Mr Wray shot again as he lay dying.
The soldier is also facing charges for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon, Michael Quinn and Patrick O'Donnell.
It was seen as a big step towards justice for the families of the victims, however the decision to prosecute led to protests by former servicemen and supporters: earlier this year, 'Operation Rolling Thunder' shut down parts of central London, with the organiser calling Soldier F's trial 'the crime of the century'.