Protests over sol­dier trial for fa­tal shoot­ing

Army veter­ans in Trou­bles death demo

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - News - BY MIR­ROR RE­PORTER ir­ish@mgn.co.uk

HUN­DREDS of Army veter­ans have marched in West­min­ster along­side a former sol­dier fac­ing pros­e­cu­tion in con­nec­tion with the death of a vul­ner­a­ble man dur­ing the Trou­bles.

Den­nis Hutch­ings, 76, is to stand trial on charges linked to the shoot­ing of John Pat Cun­ning­ham who was killed in Ben­burb, Co Ty­rone, in 1974.

Hutch­ings is ac­cused of the at­tempted mur­der of the un­armed man. A court has heard that when the 27-year-old vic­tim, who had learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, was shot he was run­ning away from an Army pa­trol be­cause he had a fear of men in uni­form.

Hutch­ings, of Cawsand, Corn­wall, is also fac­ing a charge of at­tempt­ing to cause griev­ous bod­ily harm.

The group Jus­tice For North­ern Ireland Veter­ans or­gan­ised the march to protest at the amount of re­cent in­ves­ti­ga­tions into sol­diers which they call an un­fair witch-hunt. The march was met with a counter demon­stra­tion by cam­paign­ers hold­ing a si­lent vigil and car­ry­ing plac­ards which read “I am John Pat Cun­ning­ham”. There were ver­bal clashes.

Hutch­ings threw his mil­i­tary medals as the march passed Par­lia­ment.

He said: “To­day went very well. I hope it shows the Gov­ern­ment they have to do some­thing about this ab­so­lute trav­esty of jus­tice.”

Some marchers wore their former uni­forms, dec­o­rated with medals from their time in North­ern Ireland and car­ried Union and North­ern Ireland flags.

Paul O’Con­nor, from the Pat Fin­u­cane Cen­tre which works with the Cun­ning­ham fam­ily, was a counter-pro­tester. He said: “We’re here to­day to re­mind peo­ple of who the vic­tim was.

“I know that the Bri­tish Army has had a cul­ture of im­punity over the years and they be­lieve that they are not sub­ject to the rule of law like any­one else, but they are – or they should be.”

Mr O’Con­nor claimed some of those in­volved in the rally were abu­sive to­wards them. Other counter-protests took place at lo­ca­tions in North­ern Ireland in­clud­ing Belfast, Derry, Stra­bane and Co Ar­magh.

ON THE MARCH Den­nis Hutch­ings yes­ter­day

KILLED Mr Cun­ning­ham

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