Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Boost for UUP after Mike Nesbitt enlists former Royal Irish Regiment captain Doug Beattie to ranks

Doug Beattie is a former Royal Irish Regiment captain and a winner of the Military Cross
Doug Beattie is a former Royal Irish Regiment captain and a winner of the Military Cross

Doug Beattie, a former Royal Irish Regiment captain and a winner of the Military Cross, as well as a best-selling author, has joined the Ulster Unionist Party, giving the organisation a welcome boost in the run-up to the local government and European elections.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt revealed that Mr Beattie had been in discussions with him for some years, and hinted at a role for him in public life.

"I am confident that Doug will continue to be a great public servant for this country and its people," he said.

"Doug and I have been discussing politics since he came to our party conference in 2011 to talk about the needs of our armed forces and veterans.

"He has thought long and hard about getting engaged in politics, so this is a well-thought-out decision, and all the more welcome for it."

Mr Beattie did two tours of duty in Afghanistan and served in Iraq, where he won a commendation for bravery.

On the first tour in Afghanistan he was regimental sergeant major to Major Tim Collins, another Royal Irish soldier who led the British forces at the start of the Second Gulf War.

He joked that Collins's famous stirring speech to his men then made them think too much, so that he had to shout at them.

He won his MC in the bitter fighting at Garmsir.

He wrote his book An Ordinary Soldier about his experiences.

His second book, Task Force Helmand, recounts a second tour when he mentored Afghan soldiers in 2008. Yesterday party sources said there was a "sequence and a plan" in mind for Mr Beattie.

But it refused to be drawn on where and when Mr Beattie would stand for election.

One possibility is Upper Bann, a seat which the DUP's David Simpson won from David Trimble, the UUP's former leader, in 2005.

Mr Beattie is married and has two grown-up children, Luke and Leigh.

QUOTES

"I am confident that Doug will continue to be a great public servant for this country and its people. Doug and I have been discussing politics since he came to our party conference in 2011 to talk about the needs of our armed forces and veterans. He has thought long and hard about getting engaged in politics, so this is a well-thought-out decision, and all the more welcome for it."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt on party's newest member, war hero Doug Beattie

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