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Army may stage big recruiting drive in Northern Ireland

By Sam Lister

Defence chiefs are “seriously considering” a big increase in military reservist recruitment in Northern Ireland, they have revealed during groundbreaking talks in London.

DUP MP Ian Paisley jnr joined with Welsh and Scottish nationalists to secure the first face-to-face meeting with the UK's most senior military commanders on defence spending in the nations.

The delegation told General Sir David Richards, head of the armed forces, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, head of the Navy, RAF head Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton and Army head General Sir Peter Wall that defence spending is disproportionately focused on the south east and south west of England.

The two regions attract 45% of expenditure, double the proportion of UK population they account for, sparking calls from the MPs that the cash should be more fairly spread around.

North Antrim MP Mr Paisley linked up with Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd and Angus Roberston, who leads the SNP's Parliamentary party, insisting “the issues are the same for us regardless of our political differences”.

He called for an increase in reservist recruitment as well as better spread of defence spending to help boost Northern Ireland's economy.

Mr Paisley also wants special references to Northern Ireland's troops in the military covenant.

English forces’ families gain extra points to push them higher up the housing waiting list but that does not apply in the province.

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