Nigel Dodds again indicated on Thursday that the DUP’s eight MPs are likely to vote in favour of airstrikes on ISIS (often known as ISIL or Daesh) – while the SDLP has again raised concerns in Parliament about such a course of action.
The DUP’s Westminster leader, who has over recent days given the clear impression that the DUP is edging towards voting for airstrikes, spoke prominently during a debate in the Commons.
Two years ago, five DUP MPs voted against bombing Syria when the issue last came before the Commons.
On Thursday Mr Dodds told the Prime Minister: “I confirm that, for us, the important issues are an effective overall strategy, the targeting of terrorists, and that there is an end point.
“We stand ready to do what is in the best interests of our national security. If it protects our people, here and abroad, we must act.”
And he tore into Labour’s leadership for what he said was “petulant” opposition to attacking sites in Syria.
SDLP MP Mark Durkan put it to David Cameron that there were “valid considerations against [airstrikes]” and warned: “We do not want to feed the evil we want to defeat.”
Mr Cameron responded: “I have great respect for the honourable gentleman, but if we do not intervene against ISIL, we should not be surprised when it grows and threatens us more.”
UUP MP Danny Kinahan, a former soldier, said: “We want to see Daesh totally defeated, but I wish to frame my question in this way: will we see more aid—military, medical and humane—on the ground as soon as possible, and given to those whom we trust?
“We need to work with Baghdad to make sure that the aid gets to them accurately, particularly to the internally displaced persons who are not getting all that has been passed over to them.”
Ulster-born Labour MP Kate Hoey asked Mr Cameron if he could clarify that the Government is not seeking to bomb Syria to bring about “regime change”. Mr Cameron replied: “I am happy to say that. We are not taking or proposing to take military action to achieve regime change in Syria. That is not the agenda.”