Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Unionist's condemn Fianna Fail 'campaign to ban British Army' from Queen's event

Queen's University
Queen's University

The Ulster Unionist Party has condemned what they claim is a "discriminatory campaign" by Fianna Fail calling for a ban on the British Army from an event at Queen's University Belfast.

In a post to a private Facebook group for clubs and societies at the university, QUB Fianna Fail allegedly said they voted to launch a campaign calling for the "total removal of the British Army from Societies Day".

The also asked for other societies to support the move in order to organise a "more coordinated campaign".

Societies Day, also known as Freshers' Fair, is an event at Queen's where various groups and societies on the campus promote themselves to potential student members.

The Facebook post in question has since been removed.

QUB Ulster Young Unionist Secretary Nathan Redmond condemned the post as "childish nonsense" and a "political stunt" discriminating against those at Queen's who serve in or support the British Army.

“University is a place where freedom of opinion can be explored and openly debated, yet QUB Fianna Fail are seeking to ban an organisation without giving any actual reason for it," he said.

“Societies Day allows students from diverse backgrounds to come together, pick something they are interested in and explore it to the betterment of their University experience. It is how many friendships are formed, especially by new students at the University.

"New students with family members and friends who serve in the Armed Forces will be in no doubt that this campaign is further evidence of attempts to intimidate and promote an overtly republican agenda and presence at Queen’s.

“Republicans need to realise that those of us with a pro-British identity have rights too and that the British Army enjoys a great deal of support, especially amongst students from a unionist background.

"It also offers a rewarding career to many students who graduate from Queen’s, and the chance to play a key role in protecting our Country, providing aid in disaster zones worldwide and carrying out peacekeeping operations helping save lives."

Mr Redmond called Fianna Fail and the SDLP, who they are in a partnership with, to clarify their position on the matter.

In a statement, Queen's Unversity Students' Union President Connor Veighey said: "All organisations are welcome to exhibit at the SU Freshers’ Fair. Only those that would be in conflict with existing commercial or sponsorship agreements are not permitted to exhibit."

In a statement released to the BBC, QUB Fianna Fail said: "Following an investigation, it has been ascertained that the posts were made by an individual Cumann member without sanction from the Cumann, and are not reflective of the views of either Ogra Fianna Fail or Fianna Fail.

“Contrary to the statements expressed, no vote on this issue has taken place, and QUB Ogra Fianna Fail has no intention of launching any campaign of this nature.

"Whilst QUB FF is acutely aware of the deep pain, hurt and suffering which was caused to thousands of families...by the actions of the British Army, we also acknowledge and respect the views and identity of those who wish to see that Army included in events of this nature."

The SDLP have yet to respond to a request for comment.

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