Upper Bann Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie MC has said that the Military Veterans in Northern Ireland will be watching with interest to see what delivery mechanisms have been agreed by the DUP in order to ensure that the Military Covenant is fully implemented and delivered in Northern Ireland.
Doug Beattie MC, said:
“We welcome the fact that the DUP has made the Armed Forces Covenant a priority. However, the Armed Forces community in Northern Ireland have been here before. In the six years that the Armed Forces Covenant has been operating throughout the UK, veterans in Northern Ireland have been promised they would receive equality of treatment with their colleagues in GB.
“What is absolutely essential now - and key to promoting confidence within the veterans’ community - is that the DUP outlines the delivery mechanisms that it has negotiated with the Government and how they propose to deliver on devolved matters, such as housing, health and education, because it is the delivery that has been failing up until now.
“The fact is that the Armed Forces are not a devolved issue, and the Covenant already operates across the entire United Kingdom.
“One of the weaknesses of the Northern Ireland position was that we had no representation on the UK-wide Covenant Reference Group. This was finally resolved by the passing of an Ulster Unionist motion in the Assembly on the 6th December 2016 when the Assembly voted to nominate a representative to the UK wide Armed Forces Covenant Reference Group.
“At that time I said that we brought forward the motion because we recognised the need to deliver for the veterans’ community in Northern Ireland. The lack of a local representative on the UK-wide Armed Forces Covenant Reference Group was an opportunity missed.
“The bottom line is that the Covenant is here and has been here for six years. It is already being implemented but how it is delivered needs to change to ensure that our veterans receive the support they deserve.”