As a soldier in the British Army since the tender age of 16, Doug Beattie is battle-hardened, having served in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan up to the rank of Captain.
He gained the Military Cross, the Queen’s Commendation for Gallantry and the NATO Meritorious Medal, guarded the notorious Nazi Rudolf Hess at Spandau Prison and was on the security watch at Greenham Common during the Cruise Missiles controversy many years ago.
But now, Doug Beattie faces a rather different campaign – he is fighting under the Ulster Unionist banner on May 22 for a seat in the new ABC (Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon) Council. He is contesting the Portadown Ward, along with Alderman Arnold Hatch.
Hatch’s original running partner – ex-Armagh council member Olive Whitten – decided to step aside to make way for Doug. She said, “With just six seats in the Portadown Ward, three candidates would have spread the vote too thinly. We were delighted when Doug decided to go, and I’m doing this for the good of the party.”
With 32 distinguished Army years behind him, Doug draws a parallel between council and service in the Forces. “You learn the values of democracy, equality, dependency and respecting the views of others,” he said. “I worked and lived with people of such diverse views and cultures in the Army – from an Afghan Muslim who gave his life to save mine, to great soldiers from the Republic of Ireland whom I would trust with my life.”
Having been so loyal to the British Army, his ethos is that Northern Ireland is best served “by the Great British nation, and that is where we belong.”
Doug Beattie is proud of his Portadown heritage, having attended the Hart Memorial Primary School, Clounagh JHS and ‘The Tech’.
Despite all his travels, he never lost his ‘roots’, and now that he is back and settled in the area, the former President of the Portadown Branch of the Royal British Legion wants to see the town back to its former glories.
“It’s sad to see the decline,” he added, “especially with the town centre looking so good physically. The large multiples and the shopping centre ethos is responsible in many ways and I will push the new council to support investment in the town centre.”
He added that he found “narrow party attitudes” hard to take and that politicians should he “less ego-based and not be afraid to do the right thing rather than the popular thing”.
In the past few local elections – even when the Portadown Ward has seven councillors within a smaller area (this one will include Loughgall and its environs) the UUP managed to have just one councillor elected - Arnold Hatch.
Mr Hatch commented, “I have never failed in a local election and Doug is a strong contender. I’m confident we’ll both make it.”