DUP International Development spokesperson Gregory Campbell, who regularly raises the plight of civilians in conflict zones at Westminster, says the controversial army firing ranges at Magilligan is vital for training soldiers how to help populations in war and disaster zones.
Mr Campbell, who is an MP for the East Londonderry area, accused Sinn Féin of clinging to a failed ‘Brits Out’ mantra in calling for the decommissioning of the sea-side ranges.
Responding to Sinn Féin calls for an end to Ministry of Defence (MoD) activity at Magilligan in his constituency. Mr Campbell said: “There have been MoD ranges at Magilligan for many years, it is a well establshed area where essential training has taken place in a similar way to numerous other locations across the rest of the United Kingdom.
“Sinn Féin seem to conveniently overlook the fact that these training exercises as well as being vital for the Armed Forces themselves are also a considerable help in training military personnel to assist local populations overseas both in military conflict and assisting in disaster zones.
“Sinn Féin opposition seems to have more to do with trying to maintain the worn out mantra of ‘Brits Out’ which everyone else knows is a throwback to the failed campaign of the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
“As the MoD have stated this training at Magilligan is mandatory and is a vital precursor to forthcoming training commitments by our Armed Forces.
“All relevant agencies and authorities are informed and routinely kept informed of any activity at Magilligan MoD estate.”
Local Sinn Féin councillor Dermot Nicholl had called for the range’s decommissioning.
He said: “This is not the place for this type of operation. If the MoD want to do this, surely there are plenty of ranges they could avail of in England.
“Beside an award-winning Blue Flag beach is not the place for it, on so many grounds, including local people and tourists visiting on their holidays, but who are being held to ransom by the MoD and, therefore, unable to enjoy the full visitor experience these shores have to offer.”