09 January 2019
DUP MP Gavin Robinson is seeking clarification from James Brokenshire, the Housing Secretary, regarding changes being made to help veterans access social housing. The changes apply only to England.
Mr Robinson is a member of the Defence Select Committee in the House of Commons and has long campaigned to help veterans in Northern Ireland.
The East Belfast MP said,
“Mr Brokenshire has announced a consultation on legislative changes to help veterans access social housing. These changes particularly focus on veterans with mental health problems.
I would like further clarity about how, in the absence of devolution, similar changes could be made for Northern Ireland. I will be taking this matter up with Mr Brokenshire.
Northern Ireland has a proud history in and makes a disproportionately higher contribution to the Armed Forces than other parts of the United Kingdom. Indeed, in percentage of UK population terms, more than twice as many Northern Ireland citizens volunteer for the reserve forces than in England, Scotland or Wales.
Whilst in Great Britain the Military Covenant ensures veterans are not disadvantaged in accessing government functions as a result of their service, Northern Ireland lags behind. The principle reason for this lies with Sinn Fein’s role in the Northern Ireland Executive from 2007 and their narrow-political objection to anything to do with the Armed Forces.
Veterans come from all walks of life and backgrounds. They serve everyone without fear or favour. Whilst Sinn Fein’s view of equality didn’t extend to the Armed Forces, I want to explore with the Government, how veterans living in Northern Ireland can be properly rewarded for their service and cared for by government. Their service should not disadvantage them.”