War hero Doug Beattie forced to resign military over Assembly election bid
Northern Ireland soldier and war veteran Doug Beattie has been told he must quit the military if he is to challenge for a seat in the Assembly.
The Upper Bann UUP Assembly candidate has served in the army for 34 years.
He has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for his actions in Iraq, the Military Cross for his bravery in Afghanistan and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal for his peacekeeping contributions in Bosnia.
He is now a reservist.
However, military top brass have told him he must resign because of his bid for a seat at Stormont.
Mr Beattie has not commented on the matter, however UUP Chairman Lord Empey said the veteran was "bitterly disappointed".
He said: “Having completed 34 years in the Army, Doug, who is now a reservist after a twenty-seven year regular career, informed the military he would be standing for election and was informed he could continue with his service until the outcome of the election was known.
"However with just three weeks until the election Doug was informed he had to resign with immediate effect from his position as a full time reserve service officer - in effect leaving him unemployed if he is not elected in May."
Lord Empey added: "After 34 years serving his country in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, never from behind a desk but at the sharp end of the fight, I have to ask why they could not find it possible to give him just three weeks grace in order to safeguard his job if he is not elected.
"This is a poor decision and indicative of how soldiers and veterans from Northern Ireland are treated.
“The other issue it raises is what sort of message does this send out to others who may have been thinking about making the move into politics.
"Northern Ireland politics needs people with life experiences.”