Durkan defends British army ‘bravery’ motion

Mark Durkan MP.
Mark Durkan MP.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan has refused to apologise for saluting the “bravery” of British troops in Afghanistan, including members of the Parachute regiment.

The SDLP MP signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) at Westminster just days after the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

The motion reads: “That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of . . “ before listing the names of British soldiers killed in the country.

Linda Nash, sister of 17 year-old Alex Nash who was shot dead by British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, called on the former SDLP leader to withdraw his support for the motion. “I am totally shocked. I will tell you who the brave men were; my father and the other brave men who went on that march and then went to the aid of the dying. I would never say that any soldier could be classed as brave,” she said.

Defending his stance, Mr Durkan said he signed the motion as a way of subverting the ban on reading out the names of British troops killed in the Afghan war.

“I have not allowed my own very strong views in relation to what the British army have done in Northern Ireland to blind me,” he explained.

The Foyle MP also said he has sympathy for the British soldiers killed in Afghanistan. I am not going to say I am not sorry when someone has died in uniform,” he added.