A strong message was sent out from members of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council that the service and sacrifice of all those who served in Afghanistan will not be forgotten.
Alderman Sharon McKillop, the council’s Veterans Champion, spoke of the ‘unimaginable pain’ being experienced by the many families who lost loved ones in the conflict, in particular the nine soldiers from Northern Ireland who lost their lives.
She said: “Our very best trained military personnel from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces stepped up and worked selflessly in the interests of security, freedoms and democracy for the men, women and children of Afghanistan.
“Our thoughts first and foremost are with the families of those brave service men and women who lost their lives and who suffered life changing injuries in the course of duty.
“Nine soldiers from Northern Ireland were among the fallen – eight men and one woman.
“Aaron McCormick from Macosquin died after he had gone ahead of a patrol with a detection device to check out a possible booby trap, and David Patton from Aghadowey lost his life in a gun battle during a raid to capture four Taliban members.
“The other soldiers from Northern Ireland were Channing Day from Comber, David Dalzell from Bangor, Stephen McKee from Banbridge, Nigel Mofett from Belfast, Neal Turkington from Craigavon, Stephen Walker, originally from Lisburn and Mark Hale, husband of our colleague Brenda Hale.
“The unimaginable pain experienced by those families has only been made worse by the manner in which troops have been removed and the reassertion of Taliban control. However, we must be clear that our Armed Forces did not serve in vain and they will continue to have this council’s support going forward.
“Since 2002 the UK has provided £3.3billion of aid, 8.2 million more children in Afghanistan are now in school than in 2001 and The Girls Education Challenge Fund has helped over a quarter of a million Afghan girls into the classroom.
“The approach of President Biden has been reckless, heartless and devoid of compassion or competence we should expect from the supposed leader of the free world.
“The UK must step up and provide safe refuge for those Afghan citizens and their families who helped UK and US forces. Many of those people now face persecution and some have already been murdered.
“Northern Ireland must play its part as part of the overall UK effort and open our doors to those who have put so much at risk in the name of democracy and freedom.
“We should send out that message from this Council this evening as well as a clear message that the service and sacrifice of all those who served in Afghanistan will not be forgotten.”