Belfast Telegraph

David Cameron vows to take up soldier's case

By Tom Moseley

The Prime Minister has promised to personally intervene in a campaign to secure recognition for a Northern Ireland soldier who was killed in Afghanistan.

David Cameron was asked about Ranger Aaron McCormick during Prime Minister’s questions in Westminster yesterday.

His local MP, Gregory Campbell, paid tribute to the 22-year-old in a packed House of Commons and called for a review of the MoD’s honours system which failed to recognise his efforts. Mr Cameron promised to arrange a meeting with veterans minister Andrew Robathan, and Mr Campbell, to discuss the matter.

Ranger McCormick was killed in Helmand Province in November 2010 by a bomb he was trying to diffuse.

But as revealed by the Belfast Telegraph, Ranger McCormick’s name was not on a list of around 140 soldiers honoured by the MoD.

In an interview with this newspaper, his mother said her son’s sacrifice had been “ignored” and “forgotten about”.

Margaret McCormick said she would not rest until she had achieved her goal. And yesterday the case reached Westminster.

Mr Campbell, the DUP MP for East Londonderry, said: “Last November, Ranger Aaron McCormick, from just outside Coleraine in my constituency, died in Helmand Province. He was one of many who paid the highest price to defend freedom. Can the Prime Minister ensure that a review is carried out into the way the Ministry of Defence prepares its honours list, so that families will see that the entire nation recognises the sacrifice and the selflessness of these brave men and women?”

Mr Cameron replied: “I will certainly look very carefully at what the honourable gentleman says, and perhaps arrange a meeting for him and the minister for our veterans and these affairs... I think that would be a good thing to do.

“Let me just say again, I have the highest possible regard for the professionalism, courage, dedication and the bravery of our forces.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Campbell confirmed his office would contact Number 10 to arrange the meeting, declaring himself “pleasantly surprised” with the response.

Mrs McCormick said she was “pleased” the issue had been raised at parliament.

“I have a letter the Prime Minister wrote to me after Aaron died saying he would do anything to help. So I hope he will be as good as his word and I am going to hold him to that.”

Mrs McCormick has also written to Secretary of State Owen Paterson requesting a meeting.

She added: “The Secretary of State has said he supports our troops. He was at Aaron’s funeral and his constituency in England includes the Tern Hill base for the Royal Irish Regiment so we really hope that he can meet us.”

A film about the impact of Ranger McCormick’s death has had on his family is due to air on the anniversary of his death next month.

Background

Ranger Aaron McCormick (22) was one of three Northern Ireland soldiers killed during a tour of duty between October 2010 and March. He was tasked with leading foot patrols and detecting improvised explosive devices. He died on November 14, 2010. A coroner found that Ranger McCormick had “no chance” of survival.

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