The following statement is issued by North Belfast Relatives for Justice Board member John Magee concerning recruitment advertisements in the north of the city
The placing of this advertisement bill board within this community is completely outrageous, totally insensitive and above all an affront to the many families in this area affected by atrocities carried out by the British army. It has angered local people who want it removed and the company responsible for placing it assuring the community that no such adverts will again be erected within our community. Like the British army these ads are not wanted and they are not welcome.
One only has to think of the scores of killings by the British army in North Belfast – the New Lodge Six killings, that happened only yards from where this advertisement is displayed – and the last person murdered by the British army in North Belfast, Peter McBride, whose family saw his killers, despite their convictions for murder, readmitted back into the British army and deployed to Kosovo as ‘peace-keepers’ probably best sums up the type of institution this really is.
There has been scores of killings by the British army in controversial and disputed circumstances. Many were unarmed civilians and children. That all of these killings, with the exception of that of Peter McBride, happened without effective investigation and judicial accountability underlines the systemic nature of impunity and indicts what was a criminal justice system.
In terms of the official British government policy of collusion North Belfast experienced a concentrated focus for political assassinations and sponsored sectarian murders in an unprecedented way compared to other areas throughout the North of Ireland. The British army’s Military Reconnaissance Force (MRF) that operated with loyalists during the 1970’s claimed hundreds of lives, and latterly the British army’s secretive Force Research Unit (FRU), under the control of Brigadier Gordon Kerr and British army double agent Brian Nelson, organized, armed, controlled and directed hundreds of murders scores of which occurred in North Belfast.
As our community seeks creative and productive ways aimed at addressing the hurt and legacy of the past including contributing towards a new society based upon truth, justice and equality these type of adverts only serve of a grim reminder of the awfulness and carnage that British military occupation brought to our community and they should be immediately removed.
What is equally disturbing is this ad portrays a benign sense of the reality of what the British army is really about – which when you strip it down is war, death, and destruction – and as a community that has been on the receiving end of British army violence we empathize with the overall civilian populations of Iraq and Afghanistan and what they are currently experiencing as the British army desperately try to recruit young people to send to these countries at a time when recruitment is at all time low.
The ad campaigns don’t show the realities and dangers of joining the British army – instead they offer and false sense that wrongly conveys having a good time – I suppose that with falling numbers and the almost daily deaths of British soldiers that reality is finally sinking in hence this new push to recruit.
Currently the British army are refusing to even compensate those who join-up and are injured and so even those from within the unionist community here attracted by the ads, nostalgic stories and myths of yesterday, and thinking of joining need to wise up to the facts – they’re only a form of modern day cannon fodder. Nevertheless this community wants the ads removed.