Security review pledge as families visit Massereene
Published 12/03/2009 | 01:36
The chairman of the Commons Counter-Terrorism Sub Committee (CTC) has revealed a review will be carried out on the body that guards Army bases in Northern Ireland.
Patrick Mercer, MP, made the comment about the private civilian security service following the deaths of two soldiers at Massereene Army base in Co Antrim on Saturday.
The soldiers Sapper Mark Quinsey (23), from Birmingham, and Sapper Patrick Azimkar (21), from Wood Green, north London, were murdered by Real IRA gunmen.
They were ambushed as they collected a pizza delivery outside the main gates of the base.
Two delivery men and two soldiers were also injured.
The Security Guard Service was formed after the end of the Army's involvement in operations in Northern Ireland.
However Mr Mercer said he believed the issue of base security had been taken more seriously in Britain than it has been in Northern Ireland.
“It's very easy to be wise after the event, but I do have to ask why in Scotland, Wales and England if you go to a military barracks there you’ll find as a minimum a fully warranted armed Ministry of Defence policeman and probably an armed soldier, sailor or an airman with automatic rifle standing alongside,” he told the BBC.
“I don’t understand why there was a difference with the alert levels inside Northern Ireland.”
The Conservative MP added: “I understand the delicate and critical nature of the political situation in Northern Ireland and the raising of the security profile can have a disproportionate effect upon the political process — the fact remains that lives are at risk.”
Mr Mercer said he hoped the review would take place next month.
He added that he will be “extremely testing” on the witnesses, along with his colleagues.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the MOD confirmed that some members of the two soldiers’ families had visited the province and the murder scene at Massereene Army base.
The families were accompanied by senior personnel from 38 Engineer Regiment.
Both of the dead soldiers belonged to 25 Field Squadron of 38 Engineer Regiment, and were just hours from being deployed to Afghanistan when the attack took place.
Lieutenant Colonel Roger Lewis, commanding officer, said he was “dedicated, ambitious and full of energy”.
“The regiment and I have been shocked and stunned by the death of this very promising young soldier,” he said.
Lt Col Lewis said: “Sapper Quinsey was an outwardly calm, resolute and motivated young soldier.
“A social livewire and hugely popular across the regiment, he was rarely away from the centre of the action.
“Professionally his approach reflected his infectious enthusiasm for life.”
Details of the funerals are expected to be issued later today.
A soldier at the Ulster Hospital remains in a stable condition, while a second soldier had been transferred to Musgrave Park Hospital.