Controversy Courts Collins
By Irish America Staff
August / September 2003
In the last issue we printed the extraordinary speech that Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins of the Royal Irish Regiment gave to his men before they went into battle in Iraq.
Since then, the Belfast native has been the subject of war crimes allegations made by one U.S. Army major Re Biastre, which Collins is adamantly combating. Biastre accused Collins of pistol-whipping an Iraqi civil leader and shooting at the feet of Iraqi civilians. The British Ministry of Defence is investigating these allegations. In the meantime, Collins is suing two U.K. papers for libel in their reporting of the allegations.
The British Ministry of Defence is also conducting a far-reaching inquiry into the conduct of the Royal Irish Regiment. It will investigate what the ministry described as the “military environment” which has existed within the 1st Battalion and probe allegations as to whether senior officers promoted a culture of bullying. The investigation is linked to the suicide two years ago of a soldier in the regiment, Paul Cochrane, 18, of Armagh. ♦