DUP calls for ‘full implementation’ of Military Covenant

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP

The DUP has called for changes to the Good Friday Agreement in order to provide extra support for serving and former military personnel.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warned the government benches that greater protections for ex-service personnel in Northern Ireland formed “part of the confidence and supply deal”.

In an opposition day debate in the House of Commons, Sir Jeffrey told MPs there was still a “culture of fear” among veterans in the country and proposed a number of moves to remedy this.

Sir Jeffrey, backed by his nine other party colleagues, called for Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to be amended to include provision for the armed forces.

He told MPs that the equality legislation was impeding full implementation of the Military Covenant in the Province.

The section states that public bodies should carry out functions promoting equality of opportunity between “persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation, between men and women generally, between persons with a disability and persons without and between persons with dependants and persons without”.

Sir Jeffrey said: “I do remind the House that this was something that was part of the confidence and supply agreement between the DUP and the Conservative Party.

“We identified that this should be a priority for the government.”

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said: “It is the government’s view that the Armed Forces Covenant does not contravene Section 75.”

The DUP’s non-binding motion, which asked the Commons to reaffirm its commitment to ensure the covenant is “fully implemented” in NI, was approved unopposed.