Soldiers moving to Belfast may be axed months later

SOLDIERS who are being moved from Edinburgh to Belfast face being made redundant months later in what has been described as “the ultimate insult”.

Royal Scots Borderers forced to uproot their families to Northern Ireland could serve less than six months there as part of the army’s third tranche of redundancies.

The soldiers were invited to apply for voluntary redundancy in January and will be told in June whether they have been successful before the proposed move later in summer.

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Volunteers will serve a further six months and leave the army at the end of the year, and anyone made compulsorily redundant will serve a full year.

It means some families moving to Palace Barracks face leaving by Christmas.

But the Government has already signalled a fourth round of redundancies is likely to be needed in the future.

Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western SNP MSP, said it showed a lack of respect for servicemen and women who had risked their lives.

He said: “It’s the ultimate kick in the teeth.

“These people are being brought back from Afghanistan and Iraq just to be shunted around. It’s absolutely shocking.

“They are going to drag them away from their base where they are bringing up their families. If it’s a point of moving away just to find yourself with a P45 in 12 months’ time, that is the ultimate insult.

“To be given three days to decide whether to go to Belfast is unbelievable anyway. It’s easy to say they are army and army families are used to moving around, but we have to give them a little bit of respect and time and treat them in a manner that is respectful for what they have done.

“I feel that the Lib Dem and Tory coalition has let them down badly. Scotland has come out of the base review badly and they are treating our servicemen pitifully.”

Yesterday, the Evening News revealed members of 1 Scots in Afghanistan had been given three days to decide whether or not to ask for a transfer rather than make the move to Belfast. One army wife, who asked not to be named, said after all the anguish of that decision the soldiers still faced the uncertainty of possible redundancy.

She said: “You could decide to uproot your family from Edinburgh and make the move to Belfast, only to find a year or so down the line that you’re out of a job.”

The wife of another serving soldier said it added to the stress families were feeling.

She said: “We should be excited about them coming home later this month, but instead we are worrying about the future.

“We are only in March and all of this has happened. It doesn’t make me very optimistic about the year ahead.”

The Ministry of Defence said it could not give a figure for the numbers being made redundant from 1 Scots or the Royal Regiment of Scotland until the announcement was made in June.