Doug fights for fair deal for service people

Doug Beattie marching the Royal Irish battalion on parade in Iraq just before the 2003 invasion.
Doug Beattie marching the Royal Irish battalion on parade in Iraq just before the 2003 invasion.

Portadown’s most decorated soldier is spearheading a campaign to have the Military Covenant “properly implemented in Northern Ireland”.

Captain Doug Beattie has received the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in Iraq, the Military Cross for Gallantry in Afghanistan and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal for his actions in Bosnia. And now he’s waging a battle to have service people in Northern Ireland fully included in the covenant, introduced at the turn of the millennium.

Captain Beattie was featured in the BBC Northern Ireland episode of ‘Spotlight’ on Tuesday night, criticising “the Government’s policy of fully implementing the covenant in England, Scotland and Wales, but holding back in Northern Ireland to placate nationalists”.

The MoD has denied that Northern Ireland is disadvantaged, but the programme gave examples of people suffering from severe PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and receiving little help, with some having to go to mainland Britain.

He said, “I have missed births of children and the death of loved ones to serve my country and risk my life. I don’t have PTSD, but I still feel the scars of mental stress as I reflect on a military career that has taken in my whole adult life (32 years) - from beatings as a young boy soldier because of my Irish background to the hellish conditions I encountered in Afghanistan.

“I have watched the impact of an explosive vest of a suicide bomber rip through the bodies of a dozen men, and been left alone to deal with its aftermath. I’ve seen my soldiers fighting to save the lives of civilians caught in a blast. I have also held a six-year-old girl as her life slowly ebbed away, knowing I could do nothing to help.”

He recently brought forward a notice of motion at the ABC Council to introduce an Armed Forces Community Covenant – “a declaration of the moral commitment of the Government and the nation to those that have served and their families”.

He added, “There was no objection from nationalist councillors. In abstaining, they took a major step in understanding what is important to a large swathe of the community, while all unionists gave it full support.”