The Government is under pressure to pardon soldiers who deserted the Defence Forces to join the British army during the Second World War.

It is thought some 5,000 troops swapped uniforms and around 100 of them are still alive.

A petition launched last summer calling on the Government to pardon the soldiers gathered over 2,000 signatures.

Many of those who left the Irish Defence Forces were killed during the War.

But those who survived are said to have been treated as second class citizens for the rest of their lives after they returned to Ireland.

The campaigners say that all the men who quit the Irish Army were dismissed in their absence and that after the war the Government compiled a list of those who deserted.

This was then circulated confidentially to all State agencies barring them from State jobs and other entitlements.

A radio documentary on the issue will be broadcast on BBC tomorrow.

Several members of the Dáil and Seanad are said to be supporting a pardon.

The question of a pardon is now being considered by the Attorney General. But Minister for Defence Alan Shatter has indicated that a decision on the matter is some time away.