Give medals to civilians who had role in Operation Banner: UUP

Troops on patrol in south Armagh during Operation Banner
Troops on patrol in south Armagh during Operation Banner

All civilians who had a role in Operation Banner should be given a medal, the UUP has determined.

The party announced its policy on members of the military on Monday, set out as 16 different aims for which it will campaign.

The last one on the list reads: “All civilians who served on Operation Banner or in support of Operation Banner should receive recognition in the form of a medal. Either the General Service Medal (NI) or a bespoke meaningful medal.”

Operation Banner was the Armed Forces operation in NI during the Troubles, from 1969-2007.

Portadown councillor Doug Beattie MC said that his message to troops and ex-service personnel is that “this country is treating you like a second-class citizen”.

The 16-page document also states that personnel should be given “enhanced access to in vitro fertilisation (IVF, which costs about £5,000 per session)”.

It says that in England and Scotland, there is an entitlement to three sessions of IVF, two in Wales, but only one in Northern Ireland.

“We will double that entitlement,” the UUP pledged.

It lays out a number of measures concerning health and housing, too, and also states that a “Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme will be set up and resourced in Thiepval Barracks Lisburn” similar to one which already exists in Nottingham.

It says that when personnel are made redundant with less than six months’ notice “their service will entitle them to housing points to go towards their social housing application and a place on the social housing list at the relevant position.

“We propose consultation on the award of 40 points through a new sub-category.”

It adds that the decision last month to gift 59 former service personnel homes to the NI Executive will help provide accommodation for “homeless veterans”.

The document said: “Our Armed Forces do not ask for special treatment. This is about an end to disadvantage.”

It concludes that the “great majority of the above proposals are cost-free, administrative or de minimis”.