A reminder of home...Lagan Valley MP
Jeffrey Donaldson walks 'Antrim Street' in Camp Shorabak
Jeffrey Donaldson with L-R C.Sgt Davy
Stewart and C.Sgt Chris McFarland, both from Lisburn.
LAGAN Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has met local soldiers
serving with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Irish
Regiment during a visit to Afghanistan.
Mr Donaldson, together with seven other MPs, flew into Camp
Bastion and were taken to the nearby Camp Shorabak where Royal
Irish soldiers are helping to train Afghan national forces as
part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade deployment.
The party received a detailed briefing from Major Max Walker,
2nd in Command 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, and were
then able to hear from Major General Muhaiyodin Ghoriof the
Afghan National Army on the contribution the Royal Irish
soldiers are making.
S. Capt McMillen, Jeffery
Donaldson and Capt Strain.
The group met members of the TA from the 2nd Battalion Royal
Irish Regiment who are providing the Bastion Force Protection
Company and had a chance to see the hospital where Northern
Ireland TA soldiers with 204 Field Hospital (Volunteers) will
deploy in July.
Speaking after his visit Mr Donaldson, Defence Spokesman for
the DUP in Parliament, said: "It was a privilege to meet these
brave men and women who achieve great distinction for themselves
and for Northern Ireland by their service in Afghanistan.
"To see the harp and crown badge of the Royal Irish Regiment
displayed in this war zone filled me with pride.
"It was particularly good to meet some soldiers who hail from
the Lisburn area including Colour Sergeant Chris McFarland who
comes from the Low Road area and has been serving with the 1st
Battalion for a number of years now. Also based in Afghanistan
at present is Colour Sergeant Davy Stewart who is from the
Plantation area. Davy is joined by his brother Danny who also
serves with the 1st Battalion. Their father is Dave Stewart who
is Treasurer of the Royal British Legion in Lisburn. "It was
very rewarding to learn of the excellent work these soldiers and
their Northern Ireland comrades serving with other units are
doing in Helmand province and to hear time and time again how
respected and valued they are by their commanders in the field."
Mr Donaldson said the the work the RIR are doing with the Afghan
Army will have 'long-term benefits for the peace and stability
of this troubled area.
"I was deeply impressed by the commitment of these men and
women who have demonstrated a willingness to put their lives on
the line to help others who have suffered so much oppression
under the rule of terror imposed by the Taliban" he said.
"The territorial soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the
Regiment are supporting the full-time soldiers of the 1st
Battalion in their task and I would like to pay a warm tribute
to the many local employers who have so willingly released their
staff to serve in Afghanistan.
"Without the co-operation of all these employers, the
valuable work being undertaken by the soldiers in Afghanistan
would have been greatly diminished.
'We want to assure the families back home that their sons and
daughters are in good shape and are doing a great job in serving
their country in such a distinguished way. It is our prayer that
all of them will return home safely at the end of their tour of
duty and we will seek to ensure that they receive from the
Government the level of support that is fit for such heroes."