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Sinn Fein MLA talking 'nonsense' over RAF Loreto Grammar row

By Ann W Schmidt

Published 16/11/2016

West Tyrone: Barry McElduff, Sinn Fein
West Tyrone: Barry McElduff, Sinn Fein

A Sinn Fein MLA has been accused of talking "absolute nonsense" after he criticised a Co Tyrone school for allowing the PSNI to speak to pupils.

After Loreto Grammar School in Omagh tweeted to thank a PSNI Chief Inspector for informing "Year 14 of opportunities with RAF Cadets" on Monday, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff said that military recruitment should not be allowed in schools.

"I have been inundated by phone calls from parents and past pupils who are concerned and angry following a tweet by Loreto Grammar," he added.

"Our schools should be places of learning where young people and others can expand their horizons and opportunities.

"They should not be used to recruit young people for imperialist conflicts and to be trained in warfare."

He insisted that the situation was more concerning because the information was given by a senior member of the PSNI.

"If the PSNI wish to inform pupils of personal safety and issues concerning crime prevention, I could support the visit," he said.

"There is no place for the promotion of organisations such as the RAF Cadets, who teach children how to use lethal weapons."

Loreto Grammar School principal Grainne T O'Hanlon said the school was aware of the "interest generated by the tweet, but added she hoped to dispel any misunderstanding.

"This is a youth initiative catering for all abilities, with members from across all faiths and communities," she stressed.

"This is one of a broad range of educational opportunities presented to the pupils for personal and skills development."

West Tyrone UUP MLA Ross Hussey attacked Mr McElduff's condemnation of the school, branding his response to the tweet "absolute nonsense".

"The school simply put out a tweet thanking the police chief inspector," he said. "The RAF cadets is hardly going to war.

"It's just giving young people an opportunity - an insight into what a career with the RAF might be. I think he's making a mountain out of a molehill."

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