Council backs call for British army to be refused access to schoolchildren

Derry City & Strabane District Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly. DER2114MC153
Derry City & Strabane District Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly. DER2114MC153

Derry City and Strabane have formally backed a call for schools to ban British Armed Forces from accessing children.

A motion to this affect was tabled by Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly before Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Full Monthly Council meeting at the Guildhall on Thursday afternoon.

While Unionist Councillors went against the motion and the SDLP Councillors present abstained, Sinn Fein backed the motion along with several independent councillors also backing the proposal.

Colr. Donnelly had 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 Colr. Paul Gallagher.

Colr. Donnelly told those at the meeting: “I myself lost a classmate, 11 years of age, murdered by a British solider, shot by a plastic bullet at a distance of just a few feet.”

Colr. Donnelly said Britain had been one of the last 20 countinues on 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 said that child recruits were “more vulnerable” than their peers.

DUP Alderman David Ramsey however said: “It’s ridiculous the armed forces are being told to stay out of this country, even though they are giving people employment, a future.