Plea for peace as training gets underway

A LEADING Ipswich politician turned soldier has today called on peace to prevail in Northern Ireland.

A LEADING Ipswich politician turned soldier has today called on peace to prevail in Northern Ireland.

Alasdair Ross, 46, a ward councillor for Rushmere, who was called out of retirement to serve on the frontline, is currently training with a regiment based in Northern Ireland.

He was left shocked after the atrocities earlier this month in which two soldiers died and four other people were seriously wounded when two masked gunmen opened fire at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim. Nine people are being questioned in connection to this incident and the shooting of a police officer a few days later.

Mr Ross, of Lonsdale Road, Ipswich, who serves with the 2nd Battalion, the Rifles, based in County Down, may be heading off on a tour to Afghanistan soon but hopes he is not leaving Northern Ireland's future in tatters.

He spent 24 years with the infantry regiment the Royal Green Jackets, serving on the frontline in Northern Ireland so remembers what it was like during those turbulent times.

He then retired at the age of 40 before getting a job as a sports coach at Ipswich School, and then was elected as a Labour ward councillor last year.

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As a former sergeant major, Mr Ross was called out of retirement to help the cause due to his skills in intelligence and reconnaissance.

Mr Ross, a father of two, said: “My return to the army has seen me return to Northern Ireland after an 11-year absence, and the change to Belfast and the remainder of the province in that time is very noticeable.

“Anywhere you went in Northern Ireland and anyone you spoke to could not see a return to the 'bad old days'. You can then imagine how surprised and shocked most people over here are by the recent events.

“But will the recent events of see us slip back into that endless daily story of terrorist atrocities? I for one do not believe so.

“It does show that the leaders of Sinn Fein see that peace is the only answer and that they also do not want to see a return to the 'bad old days'.

“I hope that they can achieve that as I would hate to see Ireland return to what is was like at the end of the 20th century.”

Do you have a loved one in the armed forces that you are worried for? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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