These were anti-war motions

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Sir,

In reference to the letter last Friday (‘Foyle MP ‘salutes’ Paras’) and news story on Tuesday (‘Durkan defends British army ‘bravery’motion’, the motions referred to were tabled by Paul Flynn, a consistently anti-war MP.

As part of his anti-war stance he had been using occasions in the Commons chamber to read out the names of soldiers killed in ever longer lists. This was his way of starkly reminding Parliament of some of the consequences of its decisions. This has since been ruled out of order and his only way of putting these lists on the parliamentary record is by way of Early Day Motions.

I respect Paul Flynn’s motive in this parliamentary tactic given that he has been denied his preferred channel in the chamber. As well as consistently opposing the Afghanistan mission, calling for withdrawal etc. Paul was also among the 13 MPs including myself who voted against the Libya resolution last year.

More recently I was one of the six MPs who voted against the ‘all options on the table’ amendment on Iran. It is worth noting that some of the other MPs who have strongly opposed various military interventions have also signed these and the previous motions from Paul Flynn.

Opposition to a military deployment does not have to deny human sympathy for those killed or injured on such deployment, who could be any MP’s constituents. That has been part of the rationale of Paul and others, like myself.

I cannot deny when I have found sympathy for people and hope that other MPs would also be emotionally receptive to human perspectives, regardless of labels or political standpoints.

Given that some are making a particular issue of the 31 January date which Paul submitted the motion to the Table Office, I should say that I did not sign them on that date.

My unstinting support for the quest for justice and truth by the families of the Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy massacre victims is not diminished by any other expression of sorrow. There is no contradiction whatsoever of my clear and consistent support for the Bloody Sunday families and other victims.

Yours,

Mark Durkan MP