A TUV delegation consisting of party leader Jim Allister, Comber councillor and former UDR soldier Stephen Cooper and East Belfast TUV member and Parachute Regiment veteran John Ross met the new Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner Danny Kinahan this morning.
Commenting on the meeting Jim Allister said:
“TUV welcomes the appointment of Danny Kinahan as Veterans’ Commissioner. He is clearly a man who has the interests of veterans at heart. It is no criticism of Danny to point out, however, that there is a need to set out his powers in law. The Victims’ Commissioner and even the Childrens’ Commissioner has a statutory basis. Why not the Veterans’ Commissioner? This situation needs rectified so that Danny has the powers he needs to effect positive change for a group of people who for too long have been neglected and overlooked.
“Much of the meeting revolved around the concerns of veterans and many in society generally about the ongoing prosecutions of veterans while countless terrorist atrocities are seemly forgotten about by the policing and justice system. In relation to this issue and indeed others there is a need for the Commissioner to have a budget for legal advice, something which he does not currently have.
“We also asked the Commissioner about the status of the Northern Ireland Military Covenant and while welcoming the fact that progress appears to being made on this highlighted the fact that it will be severely hampered in terms of delivering for veterans in Northern Ireland unless the ramifications of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act were addressed. We suggested that Mr Kinahan should press for a notwithstanding section 75 clause to the Covenant in Northern Ireland.
“We were pleased to hear that the Commissioner has already been in contact with the British Legion following the closure of Legion respite services in Portrush. Given that Northern Ireland gives above the national average to the poppy appeal per head of population it is important that veterans have access to facilities.
“Finally, the Commissioner was very receptive to our suggestion that there should be a particular focus on Northern Ireland during the national remembrance events next year. 2021 marks the centenary of Northern Ireland and it is important that the sacrifice of the military and the police in facing down the threat of terrorism is acknowledged at events such as the Festival of Remembrance.
“It was good to meet with Mr Kinahan so early on in his tenure as Veterans’ Commissioner and we look forward to working with him going forward. Having been appointed to this important post there is an urgent need for his to be given the legal basis necessary to deliver for the veterans to whom we owe so much.”