NORTH Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey has spoken of the mixed feelings people will have following the governments announcement of yet further and deeper cuts to the armed forces.
Expressing concern at the extent of the cuts, but welcoming the retention of the Irish Guards and 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, Mr Storey said: “With the number of regular soldiers in our Armed Forces now reduced from 102,000 down to 82,000 personnel there many people who are understandably concerned at the security impact of this decision.
“Many people are rightly concerned at the impact these further cuts will have on the UK’s defence capabilities. This is especially the case given our existing overseas commitments as well our responsibility towards the people both of Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.
“It would be catastrophic if people were left undefended as a result of these cuts.
“It is important now that proper packages are put in place for those leaving the forces. It is essential that they are given every assistance as they resume civilian life.
“I do though welcome the retention of both the Irish Guards and the 1st & 2nd Battalions of Royal Irish Regiment. I also want to welcome the decision to locate a new Reserve unit at RAF Aldergrove.
“The move on the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the RIR will be especially welcomed in Ballymoney which recently awarded the Freedom of the Borough to the RIR.
“The decision to locate a Royal Air Force Auxiliary unit at RAF Aldergrove is also welcome. It is only right that such a reserve unit should be stationed in Ulster given the fact that people from here regularly comprise some 20% of the UK reserve forces in theatres of operation such as Afghanistan.”