Derry moves to protect children from Crown Force recruitment


There has been a general welcome in Derry after councillors formally backed a call for schools to ban British Armed Forces from accessing children.

A motion to that affect was tabled by Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly (pictured) before Derry City and Strabane District Council last week.

Cllr Donnelly proposed; “Given the history of British imperialism in Ireland, this Council calls on local educational facilities for children and young people to refuse British Armed Forces access to children/ pupils as part of their attempt to glamourise/ recruit for their imperialist ventures.”

Speaking to the motion, which was seconded by Cllr Paul Gallagher, Cllr Donnelly told those at the meeting: “I myself lost a classmate, 11 years of age, murdered by a British soldier, shot by a plastic bullet at a distance of just a few feet.”

He said Britain had been one of the last 20 countries in the world to recruit under-18s alongside North Korea and Iran, and accused the British armed forces of targeting children in less well off areas, despite concerns having previously been raised by the UN.

He pointed out that child recruits were “more vulnerable” than their peers.

Last month, more than 1,200 signed petition opposing PSNI and British Navy careers visit to Belfast Catholic school St Malachy’s. Republicans also objected when the PSNI visited St Joseph’s High School in Newry.

Saoradh has said schools across the Six Counties are being used “as a recruiting sergeant for the British Crown Forces”.

Cllr Donnelly’s proposal was passed with the support of Sinn Fein while SDLP members abstained. Unionist politicians condemned the motion. DUP assembly member, Gary Middleton said the move was an example of “an extremely divisive agenda” being promoted by the council.

Ulster Unionist assembly member, Doug Beattie criticised Sinn Fein’s support for the proposal. Mr Beattie claimed the proposal left Sinn Fein calls for respect and equality “in tatters”.

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