Danny Kinahan appointed as NI’s first veterans commissioner

Danny Kinahan, an art expert who formerly worked as the Irish representative of the auction house Christies, is familiar with some of the paintings

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Danny Kinahan previously served as captain in the Blues and Royals Regiment

Former Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan has been appointed as Northern Ireland’s first veterans commissioner.

Mr Kinahan, who served as a captain in the Blues and Royals Regiment, will hold the post until at least 2023.

Plans to appoint a commissioner for military veterans were contained in January’s New Decade, New Approach agreement.

NI Secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed the appointment on Thursday.

Mr Kinahan said he was “honoured and proud” to champion the interest of ex-servicemen and women.

His role will ensure veterans “don’t just have a strong voice, but can also avail of the support that their service merits”, he said.

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PA Media

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There are around 150,000 ex-military personnel in Northern Ireland

He will also work, he added, to ensure “promises made to them in the Armed Forces Covenant are fulfilled”.

It is estimated there are around 150,000 ex-military personnel in Northern Ireland.

“We should be proud of them and recognise their skills and the sacrifices they and their families have made,” Mr Kinahan said

“We should welcome them back into society when they retire, ensure they are not forgotten and are not put at any disadvantage.

“When they need help it should be there for them immediately,” he said.

As commissioner his role is “is to ensure that this is the case and that coordinated and effective delivery exists for all those who have served,” he added.

‘Warmly welcomed’

Steve Aiken, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said the appointment “will be warmly welcomed by all veterans and the wider armed forces community across all of Northern Ireland”.

Mr Aiken added: “He will be a first-rate advocate for the many thousands here who have served and, by his appointment, we have at long last, joined the rest of the United Kingdom in providing that very necessary representation.”

Mr Kinahan served as MP for South Antrim for two years until 2017, and previously was a member of the devolved Stormont administration.

He currently holds a seat on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council but will step down from political life when he takes up his new post.

BBC News