Covenant call for troops gets backing

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Ulster Unionist representatives on Larne Borough Council have brought forward a motion to facilitate a local Armed Forces Community Covenant.

Proposed by Alderman Roy Beggs, the motion states that the council “recognises the sacrifices of the many fallen and injured service personnel of the borough serving in recent international conflicts; realises the potential for this council and other statutory bodies to provide practical and moral support to service personnel, veterans and their families; and commits to give meaning to its support for our personnel and veterans by signing the Community Covenant, as a voluntary statement of our support for the local Armed Forces community”.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt has given notice of the party’s intention to call for an Armed Forces Community Covenant as a voluntary statement of support and to ensure local projects get some of the £30 million of funding set aside to promote projects UK-wide.

The party has urged Westminster to “rectify the shameful position” whereby Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that does not offer an Armed Forces Advocate to support service personnel and veterans from, or based in, Northern Ireland.

Motions seeking support are being put to all 26 district councils.

In proposing the motion, Ald Beggs said the community covenant is intended to “complement the Armed Forces Covenant which outlines the moral obligation between the nation, the Government and the armed forces, at local level”.

The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Mark McKinty, who added: “It is our duty to act as advocates for those who fought for peace and our freedom, and for the families and friends of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice”.

There was general assent in council for the motion and officers are to report back on how the local authority should proceed on the matter.