Northern Ireland news

Royal British Legion distances itself from Soldier F banner

The banner in support of Soldier F in Carrickfergus
Connla Young

THE Royal British Legion has distanced itself from a banner erected in support of ‘Soldier F’.

The banner, which reads ‘Carrickfergus stands with Soldier 'F' – stop persecuting our veterans’, features the legion's crest and insignia of the Parachute Regiment and was put up in the Co Antrim town earlier this year.

Similar banners have appeared in towns across the north since the Public Prosecution Service said a former Paratrooper is to be charged with murdering two people on Bloody Sunday in Derry 1972, as well as attempting to murder four others.

In a letter responding to concerns raised by the Bloody Sunday Trust, legion director general Charles Byrne said: “I can assure you that the Royal British Legion neither authorised nor condones the use of our charitable logo on the banners which have appeared in support of soldier F.

“It is a matter of concern to our charity that our name has been used in this way and we wish to emphasise in the strongest possible terms our disavowal of this misappropriation of our name.”

The official added that “we have not and would not authorise such use and furthermore we have taken no stance in the matter of Soldier F.

“Our position is that the rule of law should prevail."

Mr Byrne also revealed that it had undertaken an “internal investigation” and at the time of writing “have found no evidence that legion members were involved with this misappropriation of our logo”.

It said it has asked legion members, staff and volunteers taking part in protests “to do so in their personal capacity and not as representatives of the legion”, adding that “on the broader theme of legacy investigations legion maintains that the rule of law must be upheld”.

Bloody Sunday Trust spokeswoman Julieann Campbell, whose uncle Jackie Duddy was among the 14 victims, welcomed the response.

“We welcome the fact that the Royal British Legion is distancing itself from these protests in support of Soldier F and others and the have made it abundantly clear that the rule of law should prevail,” she said.

“The legion has also said it was a matter of concern that their name and logo was being used in this way.”

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