Unionists: ‘Why we must play our part in defeating ISIS’

Unionists have unanimously supported air strikes against ISIS in Syria – but an MLA whose husband was killed in Afghanistan has also warned about the human cost of war.

Last night in the House of Commons the DUP’s eight MPs and the UUP’s two all supported air strikes, as did independent North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon. The SDLP’s MPs opposed the action.

The Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster

The Commons voted to authorise UK air strikes by a majority of 174.

Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale, whose husband Captain Mark Hale was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, supported the motion, but with caution.

“My amazing husband was number 199 of the 458 soldiers killed in Afghanistan,” she said. “That number means nothing to anyone but us, and we feel the pain and recognise the loss of the previous and successive deaths.

“I am no military strategist or tactician, but I do know we can’t let the very real threat of international or domestic terrorism hold our way of life to ransom.”

Portadown UUP councillor Doug Beattie MC, a former captain in the Royal Irish Regiment, firmly supported the air strikes. But he added that it will become essential to put soldiers on the ground in due course – a measure he will also support.

“Over the last two years Daesh has spread like a virus through the region, leaving in their wake a repressive murderous regime that controls the population by torture, sexual violence and mass executions,” he said. “They are a barbaric, medieval state that must be eradicated – of that there is also no doubt.”

He added that Westminster voted for air strikes against ISIS being extended from Iraq into Syria.

“I would certainly have voted in favour of such action.”

“But as any military commander knows, to totally eradicate Daesh it will require what is euphemistically called ‘boots on the ground’.”

Brenda Hale: Yes, we must fight, but don’t forget the human cost

Doug Beattie: I support both air action and boots on the ground

Morning View: MPs make the right choice on Syria but this is no time for triumphalism