Andy Allen, North Belfast Ulster Unionist, has called on Westminster to take responsibility for Veterans' related issues in Northern Ireland, and in particular the implementation of the Military Covenant which benefits service personnel in the rest of the United Kingdom.
Andy Allen said:
“In December 2012, the importance of the covenant was highlighted by the decision of the Chancellor to transfer £35 million from fines levied on the banks for attempting to manipulate LIBOR to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for use in supporting the armed forces community.
“It is alarming to read that only £50,000 of the £35 million so far allocated was awarded directly to a charity or good cause in Northern Ireland. This is a clear example of the need to implement the Military Covenant in Northern Ireland.
“The Armed Forces are not a devolved matter, Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom in exactly the same way as England, Scotland or Wales, and service personnel and former personnel should be treated in exactly the same manner as their comrades and colleagues in the rest of the United Kingdom.
“We have a large Armed forces community in Northern Ireland, comprising those who serve, those who have served and our families. As a society we need to ensure we do all within our power to provide practical support services for them.
“I call on those in Westminster to do more than they have thus far, to implement the Military Covenant in Northern Ireland. Quite simply, we require results and delivery on the ground.
“Veterans shouldn't be made to feel their service to Queen and country is not a badge of honour but a passport to second class citizenship.
“If we are afraid to stand up for those who stood up for our proud nation, we further open the door to the very evil we have fought so long to defend our land against.”