Beattie repeats call for medal for bomb disposal teams in light of report

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie MC, has repeated his call for a medal to be awarded to the Army’s bomb disposal teams in Northern Ireland, after a report revealed they attended 229 call-outs in the 12 months up to July 2019.

Doug Beattie MC MLA, said:

“Today’s report by the Independent Reviewer of justice and security issues makes very interesting reading indeed.  The Army’s bomb disposal unit was involved in 229 call-outs in Northern Ireland in the 12 months up to July 2019, up from 198 the previous year.

“Those tasked with dealing with devices have said they are ‘concerned activity is ramping up’ and the ‘devices with which they have to deal show signs of a growing sophistication.’ That should serve as a reminder of the very real, clear and present threat which terrorist fanatics still pose to this society, and those who routinely criticise the presence of the Army and MI5 who are here to keep us all safe, need to remember this before they open their mouths.

“I have called three times for a medal to be awarded to the soldiers who are tasked with the dangerous job of examining suspect devices, some of which are hoaxes, some non-viable devices, but some, and an increasing number, are deadly improvised explosive devices that, if they were to explode would cause death and injury to anyone that may get in the way, be they the intended target or not.

“So far my calls have met with a refusal and I am concerned that this may be due to push back by elements within the NIO who do not wish to upset republicans. It took a direction by the Secretary of State to overturn a ban on the display of a portrait of The Queen at Stormont House, so it could be that a similar mindset within the NIO would oppose the awarding of a medal to our bomb disposal teams.

“229 call-outs tells its own story and in light of today’s report I repeat my call for these soldiers to be recognised for their work, for the hours spent in danger, for the family events missed, for the long evenings away from home, for giving so much of themselves in the service of their country with little or no long-term recognition.”

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