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British army's recruitment of poor Welsh youth attacked


Special to Shunpiking Online

MANX (29 January 2007 - A SWINGING ATTACK on British army recruitment policy has been launched by Welsh Nationalist Party Plaid Cymru, which is claiming that Army recruiters are targeting schools in poorer areas of Wales in the wake of the Iraq war.

The party backed up its assertions with figures it had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showing that the Army was more likely to visit schools in deprived parts of Wales.

The Ministry of Defence denied the claim and said it only visited schools if invited.

the most deprived schools were visited about 50 per cent more often than the less deprived
However figures from the Army's recruitment division for 2005-6 showed the most deprived schools were visited about 50 per cent more often than the less deprived.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Leanne Wood has asked the Welsh Assembly Government to ban Army recruitment initiatives from schools. She told the Welsh media: "I believe that young people in Wales should not be subjected to Armed Forces propaganda. The Army is clearly targeting the most deprived areas in Wales because numbers of soldiers are down - 14,000 left in 2005. Pupils should make up their own minds with all the facts to hand.

"I want the Education Minister to stop Army recruitment in schools. If pupils want to join the Army, they can visit any number of recruitment centres around Wales."

The Army in particular targets Scotland, Mann and Northern Ireland in its drive to attract impressionable young people.
Plaid Cymru's focus on this issue, however, also brings sharply in to focus the policy of the United Kingdom in allowing children as young as 16 to join the Armed forces. Only a handful of countries other than the United Kingdom, including Canada, recruit young people below the age of eighteen years of age. Of these most fix the lower age limit at 17.

It is not simply in Wales that questions should be asked about recruitment policy. The Army in particular targets Scotland, Mann and Northern Ireland in its drive to attract impressionable young people. The tragedy of the four (still not properly explained) deaths at Deepcut training centre also shows the Army pays scant regard to its "duty of care" to these young people.

In 2004 the Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 set out in detail the position vis vis the British government's targeting of young people for recruitment into the armed forces and provides the astonishing information that (at the time the report was compiled) "between six and seven thousand under-18s were serving in the (UK) armed forces." The article also provides links and background to the deaths of several young recruits.

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Further reading

Child Soldiers Global Report 2004
http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=936

*Director of Information, Celtic League



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