Desertion from the Defence Forces – No big deal

Journalist and broadcaster Tom McGurk, being the eejit he is, has objected to thousands of Irish soldiers receiving a pardon for deserting the Irish army to fight for the Allies during World War II.

The soldiers, according to McGurk, deserted the tricolour during a national emergency and, while the “shadow over these men” could now be lifted, it still should be recognised that they had done wrong and that the State needed to take action against their desertion at the time.

In fact, Irish military authorities have never taken desertion very seriously probably reasoning that if somebody was that intent on leaving it was better to leave them off.

During my time in the Naval Service desertions did occur from time to time but there was never any major effort to track down the runaways.

One particular character caused a bit of a sensation when he returned and gave himself up after twelve years.

While awaiting court martial he was put back on the pay roll (which included some back pay), issued with a complete new kit, availed of the usual bed and board and regaled us with stories of his time as a deserter while knocking back copious amounts of Guinness.

A couple of days before the court martial was due to convene he legged it again and hasn’t been seen since.