Redundancy packages for disbanded regiment to be unveiled

The British government will today reveal details of a redundancy package for more than 3,000 soldiers in the North.

The British government will today reveal details of a redundancy package for more than 3,000 soldiers in the North.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram is expected to announce in the House of Commons details of the financial settlements for disbanded Royal Irish Regiment troops.

All three of its Home Service battalions are to be axed in August next year as part of a major security scaledown.

Redundancy deals worth up to £100,000 (€145,500) in some cases are believed to have been negotiated in a package that may be worth £65m (€94.5m) to £70m (€101.8m) in total.

The arrangements are for 2,000 full-time and 1,000 part-time soldiers affected by the normalisation plans.

Mr Ingram, British Defence Secretary John Reid and Northern Secretary Peter Hain have all been involved in the severance talks.

Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley met British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London yesterday as part of his party’s demands for a fair deal for the troops that would restore unionist confidence in the political process.

The disbandment is part of sweeping demilitarisation plans announced by Mr Hain last year in response to the IRA’s declaration of an end to its armed campaign.

This will leave troop levels at a 5,000-strong garrison.

It is understood full-time Royal Irish soldiers will receive a redundancy, pension and ex-gratia government payment in recognition of the role played by the regiment and its predecessor, the Ulster Defence Regiment, during 30 years of violence.

A scale will be used based on rank and length of service.

Part-time troops will be given a tax-free lump sum.

Sources said the severance arrangements were comparable with what police officers received as a result of policing reforms in the North and in some cases better.

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