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Defence secretary Gavin Williamson visited army base during 'private' political visit

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson at the British Army reserve base in Enniskillen at the weekend.

BRITISH Defence secretary Gavin Williamson visited the British Army Reserve base in Enniskillen at the weekend despite his visit to Northern Ireland being billed as a private one.

On Friday the Conservative minister attended a DUP gala dinner hosted by Arlene Foster, without informing the public or press about his visit.

No details of his speech at the DUP gathering at the Killyhelvin Hotel in Enniskillen were made public. It was later claimed this decision was taken for "security reasons".

Mrs Foster tweeted on Saturday that she was "delighted to host the Secretary of State for Defence in Enniskillen last night at my annual dinner".

Despite the Ministry of Defence saying the visit was a private political one, the following day he made a visit to the Army Reserve Centre at Rossory in Enniskillen to meet RAF and Army Cadets.

The defence secretary later posted online saying it was "a pleasure to see all the wonderful work that they are doing in Northern Ireland".

Mr Williamson is the latest high profile member of the Tory party to attend a DUP dinner.

In February Conservative MP Priti Patel attended a sponsored DUP constituency dinner at the Galgorm Hotel in Ballymena, where Ian Paisley interviewed her on stage about Brexit.

Last September Environment minister Michael Gove, gave a talk on farming at a dinner hosted again by Ian Paisley at the Tullyglass hotel in Ballymena.

At the time the DUP described it as "an annual MP's constituency dinner" and denied that it was a party fundraiser.

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