Posted: Wed 8th Nov 2023

Welsh Parliament pays tribute to service and sacrifice of Armed Forces

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Nov 8th, 2023

MSs from across the political divide set aside their differences to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our armed forces.

Hannah Blythyn, for the Welsh Government, told the Senedd: “Sadly, today’s debate takes place in the midst of ongoing conflict around the world.

“I know that there are people and communities in Wales thinking of loved ones as well as people they’ve never met and will never meet, including in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.

“Recent events all too starkly serve to reinforce the distress, misery, pain and grief that conflict inflicts on people and places.”

Ms Blythyn highlighted that the contribution of LGBTQ+ service people was finally formally recognised this year.

In June, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak formally apologised in Parliament for a decades-long ban on LGBTQ+ people serving in the UK armed forces.

This year also saw the publication of the independent Etherton review into their experiences.

‘Mental scars’

Peter Fox is the father of a veteran injured in Afghanistan.

The Conservative MS for Monmouth said: “I, like many parents and veterans, have seen the debilitating mental scars that conflict leaves on our loved ones, and I’m lucky my son returned home alive.

“But there are many families today, within many of our constituencies, who live day-in, day-out with the grief of losing their sons or daughters, and at these times, we think of them.”

Joyce Watson’s father fought in the second world war.

“Being a prisoner of war, as my father was for four years, does leave mental scars, and physical scars as well,” said the Labour MS for Mid and West Wales, 

“So I’m really pleased that Veterans’ NHS was set up by the Welsh Government in 2010 to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, an incredibly important service for anyone who has served in our armed forces.”

Fellow Labour backbencher Alun Davies reflected on a recent trip to Ukraine during which he stopped off in the Dutch town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which was liberated by Welsh soldiers in WWII.

Sacrifice

Jane Dodds, leader of the Lib Dems in Wales, said: “The freedom we have here to vote in free elections, speak our minds openly, and live without fear of oppression, was forged through the selfless sacrifice of ordinary men and women from across our nation.”

Plaid Cymru’s Sioned Williams told the remembrance debate on Tuesday November 7:  “With the relentless drumbeat of war becoming ever louder, we have a moral duty to stand for the cause of peace.

“And it’s also important that we ensure that veterans in Wales are supported. Because despite some positive developments in terms of relevant support services in recent years, Wales’ veterans continue to face significant challenges in civilian life.”

Altaf Hussain paid tribute to people from across the Commonwealth, including the 400,000 Muslim soldiers who fought for Britain during the first world war.

The Conservative MS for South Wales West said: “This weekend it should not be just churches that are conducting services for remembrance, but also the mosques, the gurdwaras, synagogues, temples and other places of worship.”

Carl Sargeant 

Closing the debate, Hannah Blythyn paid tribute to Carl Sargeant, her former cabinet colleague, on the sixth anniversary of his tragic death.

The deputy minister said: “I followed in the footsteps of Carl, not just as somebody else elected from Connah’s Quay, but in having the honour of leading our Welsh Government’s support for veterans.

“I think that it is right that, today, we too reflect on the role that Carl played and the work that he did as a proud champion of veterans and our armed forces community.

“I am very much privileged to build on that work today.”

By Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter

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