Church Leader Sparks Fury over Medals for Troops Slur
Byline: Alan Roden Scottish Political Reporter
A CHURCH leader angered veterans groups last night after claiming Scotland's soldiers should not receive medals if they kill their enemy.
The Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the church and society council of the Church of Scotland, said the practice of rewarding such courage on the battlefield was 'terrible'.
The Royal British Legion has reacted with astonishment to his remarks, at a time when Scottish soldiers are risking their lives in Afghanistan.
The minister was speaking on behalf of the Kirk when he made his outspoken comments to MSPs at Holyrood yesterday.
During a debate on controversial plans to legalise assisted suicide, independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who is promoting the law change, said there were circumstances in which those who ended the life of another person were rewarded. 'We award medals to soldiers who have killed other soldiers, and that's the taking of human life,' she said.
But Mr Galloway told her: 'I don't think it's a good idea that we do that. I think it's terrible. I think we should change it.'
Miss MacDonald asked him: 'What, no medals?' He said: 'Absolutely.
I think that killing in wars is tragic. I think the fact they happen is tragic and if it is a necessity that we do these things, I do have a bit of a problem about the way our values system holds that up.'
Neil Griffiths, spokesman for Royal British Legion Scotland, said he was 'horrified' by Mr Galloway's comments. 'Medals for valour, or action under enemy fire, are not sweeties to be handed out,' he said. 'It is right that these experiences are recognised.'
Scottish Chief Inspector of Prisons Clive Fairweather, a former SAS commander, said Mr Galloway's remarks betrayed a 'complete lack of understanding' of how the military recognises bravery.
He said: 'Most medals are given to soldiers for their contribution to a particular campaign in a country where the British Army is trying to improve peoples' lives, rather than kill people. …