The military will be looking with “real concern” at exactly how a former Royal Marine was able to supply explosives to dissident republicans, UUP MLA Doug Beattie has said.
Mr Beattie, a decorated war veteran, said he is confident changes will be made not only to recruitment, but also to the way armed forces personnel are monitored.
He was speaking yesterday after the sentencing of 31-year-old Ciaran Maxwell from Larne, who stashed anti-personnel mines, mortars, ammunition and 14 pipe bombs – four of which were later used – in 43 purpose-built hides at eight locations in Northern Ireland and England.
Mr Beattie said the case of Maxwell, who was sentenced to 18 years, demonstrates the degree of trust placed in members of the armed forces and the need for stringent security checks.
“It is easy, if the person’s will is there, to bring ammunition into a camp, to bring it outside of the camp, to move drugs about, to get component parts for things,” he said.
“After they have gone through counter-terrorism checks, soldiers are in a position of trust so it’s difficult to see what else they could have done but I do know this – the military will be looking at this with real concern.
“I am in no doubt whatsoever that there will be changes to the recruitment and the monitoring processes of people who join the armed forces.”
Mr Beattie said, however, that the fact Maxwell was able to supply explosives to dissident republicans – some of which have been used – was not necessarily a “failure” on the part of the military.
“It is not a failure because it is so difficult to identify someone when they are determined,” Mr Beattie said.