Just deserts or just deserters?
Regarding the possible pardon of deserters from the Irish Defence Forces during World War Two recently announced by Defence Minister Alan Shatter: The most pertinent question we should ask ourselves is who do we pardon? The argument in favour seems to suggest that any Irish soldier who subsequently joined the British forces should be pardoned.
However, this point ignores the fact that not all of the deserters actually joined up again. Many left for higher-paying jobs in the labour-hungry British war industry. Do they deserve to be pardoned?
And, if not, does that mean that their contribution to the Allied victory is less than those who fought in the front line? We should not forget that some Irish soldiers simply deserted and went home to their families.