Antrim Alliance Councillor Alan Lawther has said Unionist thinking on the Royal Irish Regiment is clearly confused after a senior Army Officer supported the disbandment of its home battalions.
Responding to comments by Col Tim Collins on the BBC’s Hearts and Minds programme, the Antrim South East representative stated: ‘In the judgement of the PSNI and senior military figures, we have reached a stage where back up from home battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment is no longer necessary – and we should be proud we have reached this stage.
‘However, again we get the automatic response from Unionists that any military scale down is a “concession”. This is plainly nonsense. Not for the first time recently, Unionists are completely confused about security matters.
‘Sir Reg Empey is quite wrong that the inexpensive option is maintenance of the home battalions. The costs are astronomical – all for battalions which, uniquely, are not allowed to serve outside one particular region of the UK.
‘The simple fact is the professionals are telling us this is an unnecessary expense and it is time to move on. Why is it that Unionists are so afraid of progress?’