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Ryanair ad 'scraping the barrel': MLA

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Ulster Unionist Michael Copeland claims the tongue-in-cheek ad by Ryanair is offensive to people who have served in the military

Ulster Unionist Michael Copeland claims the tongue-in-cheek ad by Ryanair is offensive to people who have served in the military

Ulster Unionist Michael Copeland claims the tongue-in-cheek ad by Ryanair is offensive to people who have served in the military

A unionist politician has hit out at budget airline Ryanair over its latest ad campaign describing it as "crass and offensive" to those who served in the military.

UUP east Belfast representative Michael Copeland believes the new advertisement which capitalises on the recent withdrawal of British troops from the province "was scraping the barrel" and alienated a large section of the Northern Ireland travelling public.

The tongue-in-cheek advert for the budget airline's new Belfast routes features a Private Eye-style photo of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness proclaiming "Ryanair fares are so low even the British Army flew home" while Sinn Fein party president Gerry Adams looks on in the distance.

Mr Copeland said the advert was deliberately provocative and insensitive to those, like himself, who served in the Army.

However the airline does not seem to be bothered that it may have offended some Ulster folk.

A spokesman from Ryanair told the Belfast Telegraph last night that they thought the Ulster Unionist should book one of its cheap flights.

This is not the first time the budget airline has come under fire for its tongue-in-cheek ad campaigns. In 2005 more than 300 people complained to the Advertising Standard Authority over the airline's use of Winston Churchill in a similar ad.

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The campaign featured the wartime PM declaring: "We shall fly them to the beaches, we shall fly them to the hills, we shall fly them to London!"

The advertisement ran in the aftermath of the London July 2005 bombings.

Ryanair insisted at the time the campaign was intended to encourage the public to continue to travel as normal in the wake of the attacks, and the complaints were not upheld by the ASA.

But the Castlereagh councillor does not see the funny side in the advertisement.

"The Ryanair marketing department are clearly stupid if they think an advert like this is going to endear their company to a large chunk of the Northern Ireland travelling public," Mr Copeland said.

"Deliberately provocative, this advert is insensitive, crass and makes a clear political statement on the part of Ryanair.

"To many like me who served in the Army, Northern Ireland is home. This shock tactic and 'oh no they didn't' style of advertising may have worked in the past but Ryanair should focus on what it does best: cheap flights, rather than offending people with crass advertising."


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