The Guardian

I served in Northern Ireland. It’s clear that there should be no amnesty for veterans | David Benest

Legal responsibility underpins everything our armed forces do. To depart from this is to forget Amritsar and Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday mural in the Rossville Street area, Derry. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

I had very little understanding of events in Northern Ireland while studying for my A-levels at a state grammar school in Guildford in 1972. My subsequent time at Sandhurst left me none the wiser. Entering military academy later that year, I assumed that I was embarking on a well-worn trail in the relationship between ethics and military duty. Of this I was quickly disabused.

As officer cadets we trained in internal security drills, which usually ended with direction to shoot dead the “demo” Gurkha soldier, ringleader of a rioting mob – conveniently wearing a red T-shirt. This was taught doctrine at

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