Ireland pardons WWII 'deserters'

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Four and a half thousand Irishmen who were branded deserters for joining Britain's struggle against Nazi Germany are to be pardoned, the Irish government announced on Tuesday.

Irish justice minister Alan Shatter told the Irish parliament that the government apologises for the way they were treated by Ireland after the second world war. The men deserted from the Irish defence forces at a time when the neutral Irish Free State was playing no direct part in the battle against the Third Reich.

In August 1945, the government summarily dismissed soldiers who had absented themselves during the war and disqualified them for seven years from holding employment or office remunerated from the state's central fund.

It is estimated that about 100 of them may still be alive....

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