6 May 2010 Edition

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British Army recruiting by FÁS agency questioned in Dáil

Maurice Quinlivan

Maurice Quinlivan

BY ELLA O’DWYER

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen is under pressure from a Dáil question by Sinn Féin to explain why and how the state’s FÁS jobs agency in Limerick became involved in advertising for the British Army through a jobs club in clear contravention of the Hague Convention on neutrality and the state’s own Defence Act, which makes it a criminal offence to recruit Irish citizens to a foreign army.
The scandal was first raised by Limerick City Sinn Féin Councillor Maurice Quinlivan when he saw adverts outside the city’s Millennium Jobs Club in Moyross urging  Irish citizens to ‘Join the Royal Irish Army’ (sic). The Millennium Jobs Club is supported by FÁS. Now, a Dáil question has been tabled by Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin to get to the bottom of FÁS acting as a recruiting sergeant for the British Army.
Ó Caoláin asked:
“What steps will the Government now take to ensure that FÁS and any other agency will not act in contravention of the 1954 Act?”
The Taoiseach said he will “have it checked out”.
Councillor Quinlivan said he had been contacted recently by a number of parents and job-seekers concerned that a failure to attend a recruitment meeting could have implications for their social welfare or the possibility of securing any jobs that may be available through the jobs club.
Quinlivan said he is astonished that this has happened and an Irish state agency seems unconcerned about recruiting for a foreign army, especially the British Army with its controversial roles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s amazing that a FÁS-supported jobs initiative even got to the stage of actively recruiting for the British Army to send young Irish people to the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

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