Sinn Feín MLA considers 13-17 year olds “British Army”

Not necessarily a surprising one, more a case of here we go again.

On a par with Jude Collins comparing the Boys Brigade to children taking part in dissident republican marches.

The PSNI Chief Inspector was at Loreto Grammar School, speaking about careers and gave an answer to a question by mentioning the Air Cadets.

Barry McElduff MLA posted the following tweet,


Following on from this, Pat Sheehan MLA, McElDuff’s party colleague, took up the cause today in a BBC Talkback discussion.

As someone who was in Air Cadets as a teenager, this is just woefully wrong. There are plenty of nuanced arguments I could make for why it’s wrong, but suffice to say… it is wrong.

The Air Cadets are not part of the British Army. There is no contract, no obligation, no expectation of service, nothing whatsoever. It’s a voluntary youth organisation which gives kids who have an interest in aviation, or indeed yes, the Air Force, a chance to learn and gain experience and have adventures. Nothing more, nothing less. I left for 6 months because Tuesday and Thursday night was when I had five a side football, is anyone seriously suggesting that you can quit a military force because of a reason such as that?

I can understand why republicans would be opposed to British military (although when the Army turn up at the scene of a suspect device or explosive, risk their lives defusing it, and leave our streets safe again, they’re perhaps only welcome then), but the Air Cadets are not that.

I would explain it as ‘Scouts with Planes’. Pat Sheehan’s arguments today were based on, “they are taught how to shoot,’ – shooting is an Olympic sport, it is also practiced as a hobby and activity by many, and indeed the scouts themselves have a shooting element also. There’s militaristic uniforms, yep – no argument here. The RAF sponsor the ATC, and from it’s inception it was indeed a through-route to the RAF. In different times, established in the 40s, that might well all have been a valid complaint. Now though, it’s a place for young boys and girls to learn some great skills. There is no requirement, encouragement or even push, to join the military. None whatsoever.

Of everyone I was in Air Cadets with, none went into the military. Four now work in civil aviation and many work in retail – so by that measure, is the Air Cadets a recruitment path for Tesco and Sainsburys?

I wanted to be a pilot when I was younger, there was no chance I could afford flying lessons on my own, and part of the time I was in Air Cadets was when I was homeless, yet a few times a year I would be able to fly a Grob Tutor aircraft. Other kids in my class, at the age of 15, were getting into trouble with the police, I was learning how to do a full loop in a fixed wing aircraft – that’s not a kid being militaristic, that’s a kid taking advantage of a great opportunity.

The more serious note here is republican leaders who consider Air Cadets to be British military – Pat Sheehan for example served time in prison for leaving a bomb at a security checkpoint, as an IRA combatant, he obviously considered the British military to be valid targets.

Pat has given up the path of violence, but there are dissident republicans who haven’t, and here we have prominent republican leaders, publicly stating that as far as they’re concerned, Air Cadets are part of the British military.

That’s irresponsible and dangerous.

As Pat said on the radio today in reference to military style uniforms, ranks, and the use of guns, “…if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…”

When I cook, I sometimes wear a chef’s apron, I use professional kitchen knives and do so at an oven. Am I therefore a chef in a restaurant.

There are enough problems in Northern Ireland, children are hamstrung enough by the past – my time in the ATC was about having adventures, hanging out with friends and learning how to fly, not being brainwashed into some sort of, ‘MUST-BOMB-THE-MIDDLE-EAST’ mindset. This is why we can’t have nice things; there are kids who might like to join the Air Cadets and experience the same as I did, but now we have republican leaders  shining a dangerously cynical, and incorrect, light on them.

If you’re interested in joining or finding out more about the Air Cadets, click here.

Kris tweets ferociously as @belfastbarman and runs an associated site, where he occasionally opines his views. He lived abroad for a while and as such, feels he will never really ‘get’ this place. Formerly a barman, he regularly broke the cardinal rules of, “No politics or religion in the pub,” as such, he turned to writing. Previously a stand up comedian and an animal crematorium assistant, now works in marketing and is a recently joined member of the Alliance Party.

  • Jollyraj

    “DIm-witted verbal” and “sectarian” are descriptions which could apply to many people in NI, and not a few posters on here (Heck, you’ve only to read a couple of the blunt, poisoned darts Grumpy Oul’ Man tries to hurl at any unionist in sight to see that).

    Still don’t see why the fact that there are also other p###ks about has any real relevance to what McElduff said and the obvious, sinister implications of what McElduff said.

  • Jollyraj

    It’s not designed to make me look intelligent – heck, most 10-year-olds should be able to spell ‘Italian’ – it is rather intended to make a polite point to GOM.
    Put more simply (and apologies to him for the frankness but you are insisting on it) if he is going to insist on seeking out my posts to write bitter, mildly offensive responses then he should master the art of constructing basic sentences.
    Obviously I know that he is trying to say ‘Italian’ here, but frequently I’ve had to sift his direct comments to me and had a hard time understanding what he’s trying to say. Perhaps writing just isn’t his thing and he should stick to that chanting thing that the Shinners teach to their less intellectual cheering section. Start him off with “SS-RUC”, perhaps. Then again, as you say, there could be the spelling issue again….

  • Cináed mac Artri

    Depressing stuff.

    Closed minds and bigotry. Can’t say it’s been fun.

  • Skibo

    Just a wee joke but maybe the chants will change to R-R-RAF-PSNI. Ah jees just doesn’t have the ring to it!
    PS do you consider me a shinner bot also or just a pain in the ass?

  • Skibo

    I would have never put Barry down as “sinister”, not that I know him personally. From his part on the Nolan show, I would have taken him as more of a comical star turn, similar to some of Sammy Wilson’s comments.
    Then again if we remember Sammy’s expletives during the old Belfast City council meetings he had quite a sinister side to him also.
    As for the blunt poison darts, isn’t it great that we are throwing comments at each other and not petrol bombs. I call that progress.
    We may not be able to see the same act or comment in the same light but that has more to do with our up-bringing than anything else.
    We, as two communities, are not always overtly sectarian but scratch the skin and it is still there and will take a generation to change. That is unless we pass it on to our children.

  • billypilgrim1

    Wow, that’s a couple of minutes I’ll never get back.

  • billypilgrim1

    The “sinister implications” exist only in your head.

  • billypilgrim1

    “What about the people who see themselves as British and Irish?”

    You may note that I have said several times that unionists are a special case. I have made clear repeatedly that my remarks are directed only at non-unionist Irish people.

  • Skibo

    No sorry, not closed mind but open mind to the fact that certain words and organisations are still the cause of division in our community. For a police officer not to recognise this shows a lack of knowledge and training.
    I myself have no problem with the Air cadets, Lord I even discussed with my son about his possibility of joining the RAF. He didn’t in the end but it was not for anything I said against the organisation.
    The training such organisations give is second to none but I always had concerns at how an Irish Nationalist would be treated within an overtly British organisation. I did not make my concerns known to him as he really had to make up his own mind.
    Please don’t tell me it wouldn’t matter. I had dealings with the RAF and remember a sergeant who was known as Paddy by all and sundry yet when I got to know him, he was actually called Kevin.

  • billypilgrim1

    This is an example of the logical fallacy of the Appeal To Emotion.

    I’m articulating a principled position. You are using children as a human shield, and claiming the moral high ground to boot!

  • billypilgrim1

    Nevertheless, because I’m so generous, I’ll answer your fallacious question.

    Should the fourteen-year-old be regarded as a disgrace?

    Well, their parents should.

    And while being fourteen means you are less accountable for your actions than adults, but it doesn’t mean you have absolutely no accountability. I certainly knew at the age of 14 that I should never consider joining the RUC, and why.

    Again: what is it with the liberal left, that you have such a problem with the idea of accountability?

  • Skibo

    JR you missed where I started the previous post with I instead of “It”. I had to edit all on you owneyo!

  • grumpy oul man

    Barry was very silly in both a political and sectarian manner, Frazer is the yardstick by which political and sectarian silliness is measured.
    It wonderfully strange that you can slip SF or Gerry into any discussion no matter how tenuous the link but object when someone brings up a unionist in a relevant manner.
    and have you admitted your earlier post was wrong and Frazer has said both stupider and nastier thing, and before you go off on one i think what McElduff said was both stupid and nasty.

  • grumpy oul man

    aw when beaten resort to grammar and spelling check, you do a lot of that!

  • Alan N/Ards

    Can nationalist’s not define themselves as both British and Irish? I happen to know a number Irish republican’s who have no problem defining themselves as both. They happen to be Presbyterian (but are most definitely not unionists) so I’m not sure if that negates their credentials in some peoples eyes. I also know catholic’s who are equally comfortable with both identities.

    One of the biggest problems we have on this island is that there are people who think that their definition of what it means to be Irish or British is the only only one that counts, and that there should be no watering down of said opinion. That kind of nationalistic thinking will get us nowhere. It would be better if we all respected each others right to define ourselves as we like.

  • Glenn

    A former Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast, refused to give a 14 year old girl Army Cadet her DofE award at a ceremony at Belfast City Hall in 2011. Now we have this, it seems hate of anything and almost everything British by Sinn Fein runs deep (the pound is excused), and can only be explained as bigotry in it’s deepest and purest form.

    Whatever happened to equality, and while we are on that subject, I think the last word should go to Gerry, those “Bastards”.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They seem to think if their sectarianism is against ‘the British’ rather than ‘the Prods’, it is somehow less sectarian. They have missed the overlap.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I wasn’t talking about you, I was talking about this Barry McElduff punter who’s made a fool of himself.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There was even a paramilitary group at one point called the Catholic Ex-Servicemen’s Association, formed of people in nationalist areas of Belfast who were ex-Army, largely.

  • billypilgrim1

    I don’t think he has made a fool of himself. I think he has made an important contribution, and if I were a voter in West Tyrone, I’d be grateful to him.

  • grumpy oul man

    always wondered about that! surely when the green book was written the British Navy wore the crown for the British armed forces, gunboats shelled the rebels during Easter week and the army simply could not have operated here without the Navy, i wonder why the RA left them out.

  • grumpy oul man

    only way to end a Saturday night in Chester!

  • grumpy oul man

    this is not the USA, different rights and responsibility’s exist their.
    The Irish government has as far as i am aware no law against any citizen serving in the armed forces of any country,
    If a citizen served in a army of a country that Ireland was at war with (and i am glad to say that my Country has never been at war, proud of that i am) then Treason laws may come into play.

  • grumpy oul man

    Thank you JR, you have got it as spot on about me as you have about AG;s reference to Frazer.
    show us some of those blunt poisoned darts you mention, please?

  • grumpy oul man

    I do not seek out your posts, this in a debating website when you post something you are expected to be able to defend it, you rarely are.
    I do enjoy pulling you up when on any subject you manage to bring up Garry and the Shinners (I believe my , mildly offensive responses are pointing out your tendency to shout Themmuns at every opportunity)and then mope when somebody brings up Frazer.
    if you seriously think im a Shinner (never mind their less intellectual cheering section) then sir you are in for a big surprise when you meet a real one!

    I do note that you seldom are able to answer the questions i ask of you, perhaps this explains the Bile.
    But in future if you are that worried about my responses then could i suggest a code, something like “please Grumpy no hard questions” not subtle but as you say neither am I.

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh and whinging about being challenged on a website meant for open debate has to be Olympic standard mopery! just saying.

  • Granni Trixie

    Are you sure about it being a paramilitary group? I don’t think it was …but could be wrong.

  • Katyusha

    So did the Army, apparently, with their recognition of the Catholic Church.

    In order to join the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department you must be a citizen of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, or a Commonwealth country.
    You must also have been ordained and had ministerial experience in one of the recognised Sending Churches (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Church of Scotland, Presbyterian, Baptist Union, United Reformed, Congregational, Free Church of Scotland, Elim Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Salvation Army).

    Not to mention the very many Catholics, from north and south of the border, that join the Armed Forces.

    It’s almost like the Army is bigger than Northern Ireland and bigger than Ulster Unionism. I think Sinn Fein would be against any British Army involvement – apart from those who were double-agents,of course, – even if they served alongside the Swiss Guard and had been personally sent to Northern Ireland by Papal Bull. Sectarianism is neither here nor there.

    Not that I agree with Ó Donnghaile’s refusal to meet the young cadet. The cadets aren’t part of the Army, and it was unfair to treat her as such – whatever state SF’s relationship with the Army is in.

  • Jollyraj

    ” I do enjoy pulling you up when on any subject you manage to bring up Garry and the Shinners”

    I’ve no idea who Garry is. Certainly I’ve never brought his name up. Some little known Ardoyne-based tribute band?

    “(I believe my , mildly offensive responses are pointing out your tendency to shout Themmuns at every opportunity)”

    Nonsense. Your interjection this time was to try to shout down my point that Frazer is not relevant to this discussion.

    “I do note that you seldom are able to answer the questions i ask of you”

    You seldom ask questions. Perhaps the appalling synax, grammar, and lack of punctuation obscures the fact that you are asking questions?

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh we all know i meant Gerry. And no you never answer questions.
    What you do is kneejerk everytime someone critises any unionist for anything.
    When questioned on your reaction you normally shout themmuns or have a mope.
    You believe anyone who dares question any aspect of unionism a extreme Shinner.
    Now because of this Pavlovian responce (jumping to the defence of Frazer , like the famous dogs hearing a bell) you have managed to divert a post which was having a go at the Shinners to a post about your hurt feelings.
    Good one, my spelling and grammer may not be first class but I’m not so stupid (nor are many other nationlists) to get between unionists arguing and take heat of the DUP say, but you cant help doing it for the Shinners.
    You are indeed the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Jollyraj

    “Oh we all know i meant Gerry”

    Really? Why are you bringing Gerry (Adams?) into it? I didn’t. Isn’t the central plank of your argument that I keep bringing him up? You may need to rethink that.

    “And no you never answer questions.”

    Again, you aren’t asking a question.

    “What you do is kneejerk everytime someone critises any unionist for anything. ”


    “When questioned on your reaction you normally shout themmuns or have a mope.”

    What is a mope?

    “… because of this Pavlovian responce” (response!!)

    “(jumping to the defence of Frazer ..”

    I’d like a quote, please, showing where I have defended him.

    “Good one, my spelling and grammer may not be first class”

    No, they aren’t, are they.

    ” but I’m not so stupid”


  • Jollyraj

    Frankly, I think there may be a few Republican posters on here that would struggle to spell ‘R-A-F – P-S-N-I’ 🙂

    I certainly don’t consider you a shinnerbot.

    After (admittedly) some consideration, I don’t really consider you to be the latter, either.

  • grumpy oul man

    Please you complain about not being able to understand my posts,
    but you are the person who read,
    “Well it’s nice to see that nationalism has a Willy Frazer or two kicking about the place.”
    “This is all Willy Frazers fault”
    and replied with this,
    “Very odd that you seek to blame Willy Frazer for some sectarian ranting by some lowlife in Sinn Fein.”
    Perhaps the problem is in your ability to understand the written word!
    Now you asked me to show where you defended Willy, try this
    “Frazer has said some reprehensible stuff – but I don’t know that he’s ever gone that low.
    quite untrue and you were given a example, The Italian Flag fiasco (i think anybody claiming a primary school was a IRA training camp is as low as it gets) now finilly i have asked you at least two questions, which you have chosen to ignore,
    You said this, “seeking out my posts to write bitter, mildly offensive responses”
    I asked for examples, no answer.
    I also asked you did you now admit that Willy has been at least as bad as Barry, no answer

  • Jollyraj

    Well then, since you have ‘finilly’ asked me two questions:

    Q1. You asked for examples of where you have sought out my posts to write bitter, mildly offensive responses.

    Thank you for providing me with this exemplary post to which I am now responding.

    Q2. You seem previously to have asked me to ‘admit’ that Frazer has been worse than McElduff. Now you ask me simply to ‘admit’ that they are just as bad as each other.

    I can’t admit either, since both are opinions – I can only agree or disagree. So, for the record, yes, solely in terms of public utterances (not actual actions) I would say Frazer is on a par with McElduff (and most of the Sinn Fein cohort) for his lack of sophistication, jarring sectarianism, and base appeal to stupid people.

  • grumpy oul man

    Nice bit of pedantry. But still no answers apart from the bit of fluff about frazer (i note no proof of offensive posts from me) as a cover for a wee dig at the shinners.
    And i asked you those two questions a lot earlier in the exchange.
    Grow up JR , try presenting actual arguments instead of insults and stop the kneejerk responce everytime someone criticizes a unionist.
    I suggest you sit down, i have some shocking news for you.
    Not everyone who criticizes unionists or unionisn is a wild eyed shinner, not everything is the shinners fault.
    This little exchange started because you misread AGs post and leapt to defend Willy from a imagined attack ( which makes it amusing when you complain about not understanding my posts) try thinking about what you post, more arguable points less abuse.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yup, there are lots of Fijians in the Army these days, have met a few.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Particularly in the Royal Artillery, they’re strong lads and can hoof the shells around more easily than Brits (apparently).

  • John Collins

    The stripping of citizenship
    is a somewhat current topic at theleast moment.
    I saw in some newspaper article than Donald Trump’s grandpa had his citizenship withdrawn in Germany
    in 1905, for fleeing to America to avoid the draft.