UPDATED: 05 MAY 2021:
In 1998, the British Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign was effectively dead in the water as a result of Minister of Defence John Reid's refusal to countenance any pardons. Following a telephone call in June 2001 from the coordinator of the British Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign who confirmed that his campaign effort was effectively going backwards, one decided to set up a separate Irish Shot at Dawn Campaign and it was agreed and understood by those in the UK that to be effective the Irish group would have to be totally separate from the British campaign and organised and managed from within the Republic of Ireland and to include the whole Island of Ireland. It was the Irish SAD Campaign effort that made the difference and but for the Irish input the Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign efforts in the UK would still be languishing in the cul-de-sac of the British political and legal system ad infinitum. The Shot at Dawn Campaign Irl founded and co-ordinated from Dublin was an independent Irish based group and was never a part or an adjunct of the British Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign. The Shot at Dawn Campaign Ireland and the Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign in the UK were always two separate and distinct entities; ie one Irish Campaign and one British Campaign, independent of each other, albeit in pursuit of the same objective. Our unique Irish identity was a major contributing factor and was one of the main reasons why the Irish SAD Campaign was so successful in attracting support. As some pundits continue to ignore or minimise the Irish Governments role towards the successful resolution of the pardons issue in 2006, the following inter-alia might be taken into account whenever discussions arise as to who did what and when:
Mr Andrew Mackinlay MP: "I will talk about the St Andrews Agreement in a moment. First, I would like to add to Senator Hayes’s comments about the pardons granted to British Army soldiers who were killed in such terrible circumstances during the First World War. At its last plenary conference, this Body made representations in respect of those soldiers, and this plenary conference an occasion to place on record the process that resulted in the British Government’s decision to grant those pardons. At the outset, the Irish Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform made representations to the United Kingdom Government in respect of the 26 Irish soldiers who were executed. Following that, four ingredients contributed to the granting of the pardons."
Re an Irish Pardon for Irish born British soldiers Shot at Dawn:
The New Zealand Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Act 2000: A Legal Prospective
This opinion inter alia corroborates the following re the New Zealand Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Act 2000
It is unacceptable that the Irish Government's key role and the Shot at Dawn
Campaign Irl effort in bringing about this unique change of British policy
continues to be disregarded by various scribes.
As one was closely involved in the formulation of the Irish Government
Report and in the confidential discussions that followed which led to
the widening of the scope of the British Pardons amendment any erroneous statement or spin
placed on the public record about the separate Shot at Dawn Campaign Irl
effort irrespective of source will be vigorously rebutted. It should be
noted that previous attempts by those involved in the British Shot at Dawn
Pardons Campaign had failed to convince the Irish Government to support the
pardons issue indeed their efforts in the UK had been rejected by the
British government in 1998 when
John Reid MP
then Minister for the Armed Forces
affirmed his belief in military discipline and declared that he would not
grant a generic pardon or permit an independent case-
The Farr Case - A Cause Célèbre ?
It should also be noted that in November 2003 following the initial Irish Government support for the Shot at Dawn Campaign Irl effort. A meeting took place in Newcastle, England with the leader of the British Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign. He gave his assurance that no legal action was envisaged/considered or being taken in the UK, as to do so in our opinion, would have frustrated future Irish Government efforts and divert the Irish campaign down a British legal cul-de-sac. The Irish effort then proceeded on the basis that no legal action was being taken in the UK by the Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign or the UK Families. The legal application in the Farr Case May 2005 (significantly post the presentation of the Irish Government Report in October 2004) patently breached that assurance. As a consequence:
It is inconceivable that the British Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign were unaware of the preparation for the Farr case as expert knowledge was needed to prepare the legal briefs which was only accessible through the UK SAD campaign effort. The facts are, the Farr Pro Bono application in May 2005 is responsible for blocking the full pardon route for all our world war one Shot at Dawn, thereby eliminating the possibility of a full pardon for our Irish Shot at Dawn, to the detriment of our Irish Families, leaving them in a British legal and political vacuum. The Farr case had never reached a final conclusion or gone forward for a full hearing to test their legal argument for a conditional pardon, and for observers in the UK to flag the Farr case as a Cause Célèbre is at the very least imprudent and a British distortion of the facts.
British connections have also commented: "For the first time, former War Veterans' Minister Tom Watson has admitted his meeting with Harris in the summer of 2006 prompted him to force the MoD to change policy and grant her father and other shell-shocked troops a pardon". To state or imply that it was this meeting that forced a change in British Government policy on the WW1 pardons in isolation to all other efforts, is incredibly naive at best, and downright insulting to all involved in supporting the campaign for pardons, in particular, the crucial role of the Irish Government's international diplomatic effort towards the final resolution of the pardons issue.
In conclusion, but for the input of Anglo-Irish division department of foreign affairs and the Shot at Dawn Campaign Irl effort, the support from members of the Oireachtas in Ireland, support from members of the House of Lords and House of Commons in the UK, the essential support of various military connections here in Ireland and abroad, the constructive analysis in books and articles written by journalists and authors world wide, including the production of various television documentaries, and importantly, both the British and Irish government’s priorities were focused at the time on progressing the Northern Ireland peace process to a successful conclusion, there would have been no pardons granted in November 2006 for all 306 servicemen executed for military offences during world war one.
On Tuesday 20th November 2007: the grandnephew of Private Patrick Joseph Downey one of our 26 Irish Born soldiers, Shot at Dawn, submitted his application to Her Majesty, The Queen, for a Royal Pardon for Patrick, stating “In our families opinion, without the added weight of the royal prerogative of mercy such conditional pardon is meaningless”
Rejected petition posthumous pardons for WW1 soldiers wrongly accused of cowardice:
On the 23 March 2013: A petition was submitted during the 2010–2015 Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government seeking posthumous pardons for WW1 soldiers wrongly accused of cowardice:
Reasoning: It’s about something that the UK Government or Parliament is not responsible for. In August 2006, the then Defence Secretary Des Browne announced that with Parliament's support, there would be a general pardon for all 306 men executed in World War One. A new law passed on November 8th 2006 and included as part of the Armed Forces Act has pardoned men in the British and Commonwealth armies who were executed in World War One. The law removes the stain of dishonour with regards to executions on war records. This petition has been rejected as HM Government has already dealt with this issue.