The eight DUP MPs met with the Defence Minister this week to discuss the Strategic Review of the Defence Budget.
In keeping with the DUP manifesto, they urged the Minister to ensure that the commitment to spend 2% of GDP on the defence budget was adhered to in order to ensure that the new threats from Russia and ISIS were capable of being responded to.
MP Ian Paisley commented “One of the main points of discussion was of course the UK’s nuclear deterrents. The Trident programme is undoubtedly a costly one to run, but the role it has played in keeping post-war Britain safe cannot be understated. We asserted our support for the programme and will continue to do so.”
Also discussed was the downsizing of all three areas of the armed forces and the potential impact this could have on those who remain. “The workload of our armed servicemen and women is already very stretched off the back of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. How we protect our returning servicemen and women and how the new structures are phased in is imperative to the health and wellbeing of our troops” said Mr Paisley.
The Military Covenant, which is of course not yet fully operational in Northern Ireland was another area of discussion. The group pushed the Minister to continue to work to see this implemented sooner rather than later.
“From a business perspective we also emphasised how strongly we felt about preserving the level of industry that some of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies procure through MoD orders and purchasing. We encouraged the Minister to strongly consider Northern Ireland businesses and what they have to offer before looking further afield when considering future investments” said the North Antrim MP.
East Antrim’s Sammy Wilson added “The DUP is fortunate to have a member on the Defence Select Committee and Jim Shannon, who is our serving member, along with the rest of the MP team will ensure that the views of the people of N.I who, through experience, know the value of effective armed services, are heard in Westminster. Northern Ireland contributes to the defence needs of the UK with the highest recruitment to the reserve forces of any region and we welcome the commitment given to lifting the cap on recruitment so that those in the province who wish to volunteer will be able to do so.”