Bring Billy home Mr Cameron
Heartfelt plea from young mum made to Prime Minister
A HEARTFELT plea by a young mum to get her partner home for Christmas has received messages of support from more than 150,000 people across the globe.
Connel man Billy Irving, 34, has been in India since October 2013 after he and fellow MV Seaman Guard Ohio crew members were accused of carrying illegal weapons when they entered Indian waters as part of anti-piracy operations and arrested. All charges against him and his colleagues were later dropped and court dates promised to resolve the situation.
But two years on, the men are still stranded in India.
Now Billy’s partner Yvonne Machugh has appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the case with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he meets him this week for high level talks.
Ms Machugh, the mother of Billy’s child, said: ‘It breaks my heart to say that more than two years later those six men remain in India and the British Government still have not helped them.
‘These men are our brothers, sons and partners. They have risked their lives serving our country in the British Army, and now need the British Government’s help to be returned home to their family and friends in order to be able to live again.
‘The men spent six months in an Indian prison and faced horrific conditions – poor sanitation, under nourishment and illness. They were cut off from family and had no contact with them. Then in April 2014 they were finally released on bail.’
Yvonne continued: ‘I was there to meet Billy outside Puzhal Prison gates on the day he and the other men were released. It was a huge relief for all the men and their families to finally be out of prison, but they still had a long way to go.
‘Bail conditions meant the men had to attend the police station twice a day to show they were present. They were unable to leave India. They were receiving no wages from their employer and without a visa they were unable to work.
‘So you can imagine the elation when all charges were dropped in July 2014. Everyone celebrated and we all looked forward to the home coming. I returned home to Scotland to discover I was expecting our first child, and for once it seemed like everything would be OK. This wasn’t the case. On August 26 an appeal against the quashing of charges was filed.
‘The men had asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the British government for help to get the relevant documents and their belongings back from the Indian police and to return home.’
But help was not forthcoming.
On April 28, eight months after the appeal had been submitted the supreme court finally heard the case. On the July 1 this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the case had to be sent back to the original court where the trial took place – to be heard in full.
Now Yvonne is hoping David Cameron will step in to help.
She said: ‘The Indian Prime Minister Mr Modi will be in the UK tomorrow [ November 13]. The families have pleaded with David Cameron to raise this case with him. Downing Street has replied, ‘it is on the agenda but we cannot guarantee it will be raised’.’
A spokesperson for Mr Cameron confirmed the matter was on the agenda, but would not confirm whether it would be discussed.
A funding page to help with the men’s accommodation, legal fees and survival in India can be found at http://gogetfunding.com/bring-our-lads-home/
Billy Irving has only met his son once, now his partner Yvonne Machugh is fighting to bring him home in time for Christmas.