| 6.9°C Belfast

Decorated Northern Ireland war hero signs up with Veterans Party

Close

Trevor Coult is helping new launch the Democrats and Veterans Party

Trevor Coult is helping new launch the Democrats and Veterans Party

Trevor Coult is helping new launch the Democrats and Veterans Party

An Iraq war hero from Northern Ireland is one of the leading figures set to launch a new UK-wide political party.

Trevor Coult, who was awarded the Military Cross in 2005, will be part of the Democrats and Veterans Party which hopes to take on both Labour and the Tories - and support the people of Northern Ireland.

The party, due to launch in London on February 9, has already had to field claims it will simply be a Ukip 'Mark 2' after reports of input from Nigel Farage.

However, Ballybeen man Mr Coult, who now lives in Woodbridge, Suffolk, said his party was a completely new venture.

"We have nothing to do with Ukip, they've had their go," he said.

"The only thing I've spoken to Nigel Farage about is PTSD among veterans and mental health charities, not our party.

"We have been borne simply from people being sick of how they're being treated, of how we are being failed by our government.

"Our frontline staff are not being looked after in the NHS, our army is overstretched, police officers are stuck behind desks doing paperwork while crime figures go through the roof.

"We want to speak up for the people and change how politics works."

Mr Coult, who sold his medals in 2016 after saying they brought back horrific memories of his time on the frontline, says the party is keen to get behind the people of Northern Ireland too.

The former Royal Irish Regiment sergeant was awarded the Military Cross in 2006 for his bravery in a machine-gun ambush involving suicide bombers and gunmen in Baghdad.

However, he has lost six ex-colleagues to suicide since then.

"We hope to launch in Northern Ireland before the end of next month," he said.

"It seems that every few weeks there's some new story about veterans being prosecuted for deaths in the past.

"What I want to know is exactly what Tony Blair wrote into the Good Friday Agreement that made this hounding of veterans possible.

"It seems to be going one way with legacy, and that can't be right.

"It's no way for a society to live and there are deep scars that need to be sorted out.

"We want to help out there and in Scotland too, where we'll take on the SNP for the people who don't want independence."

Working along with Mr Coult (42) is former SAS soldier Robin Horsfall and Gavin Felton, a former army sergeant major.

However, the party will be about much more than the armed forces, the father-of-one said.

"It's not just the army," he said.

"By veterans we mean people with experience in all the frontline services.

"The NHS, the police, everything."

Already, says Mr Coult, around 1,000 people are signed up and the party hopes to have 350 candidates ready to stand should a snap general election be held.

"That's in just about a week," he said.

"We haven't even launched yet, but we have been vetting people carefully in terms of their backgrounds and experience and we think around 350 suitable candidates would be available to us."

However, the party has still failed to publish a manifesto - and the identity of the party leader remains a mystery.

"We have got a manifesto," he said.

"But it's a work-in-progress to be ready for the launch.

"Our leader will be announced then too, when this person is signed-off and approved by the party."

Belfast Telegraph