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Letters: Narrow-minded Maskey misses point over plan by Government to spend £1bn on Royal Navy frigates

 

I was disappointed to read the narrow-minded viewpoint of Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey (News, September 6).

It is not a Government priority to spend over £1bn on five new frigates. It is just one of many announcements over the course of a parliament about Government spending. There is plenty of public expenditure on the things Mr Maskey would prefer, but he is clearly no fan of the armed forces.

He also seems not to have much understanding of the UK and its responsibilities. The UK has defence responsibility for our island trading nation's waters and for 14 overseas territories (OTs), just as Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Spain have comparable responsibilities for their OTs.

Some 95% of UK trade goes in ships and this represents goods worth around £500bn being imported each year, by sea, into Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. The UK is so dependent on the seas for its prosperity that, without the Royal Navy's contributing to the policing of a number of maritime choke-points in dangerous parts of the world, the effect of any hiatus in the maritime supply chain would be soon felt by all of us.

Orders for these new frigates are long overdue and these ships will replace ageing vessels for important work on the high seas, which, Britons should be reminded, cover 70% of the globe.

While navies are "militarist" insofar as their principal role is to defend a nation's interests, Mr Maskey is wrong to imply that the Royal Navy is part of what he calls "military ego".

The Royal Navy doesn't "do" ego and it's not given to showing off, but it's rightly proud of its centuries of success; it just gets on with its job, as best it can.

Lester May (Lieutenant Commander RN (Retired)

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