I must admit to having been unaware of the upcoming charity fundraising event at the K Club to raise funds for the Jack and Jill Foundation, a most worthy cause, until I read the letter from Peter Mulvany (Irish Examiner, Sept 14).
Now that I am aware of the event, which is to include an appearance by members of a British Army regiment, the Band of the Irish Guards, let me make my position clear.
The new political dispensation mandated by the Belfast Agreement, and alluded to by Mr Mulvany, has produced many positives. However, I feel the invitation extended to members of the British Army to appear at a fundraising event for children is most inappropriate. I believe it is more an exercise in conferring a new respectability on the British Army under the guise of charity fundraising, and all the soft focus media or high-powered spin doctoring cannot alter the record of the British Army, both in Ireland and abroad.
It seems some of us are not yet free of British colonial values and imperial culture. Has civilised society in Ireland forgotten so quickly that it took 40 years after the murders of 13 people in Derry by members of the British Army, and two years after the release of the findings of the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday, which found that the civil rights demonstrators were innocent victims, for British prime minister David Cameron to issue an apology to the people of Derry?
Lt-Col Derek Wilford, the officer commanding the Parachute Regiment which was responsible for the unlawful killings on Bloody Sunday, was awarded the OBE by Queen Elizabeth II six months after the killings. That this man continues to retain his award puts Mr Cameron’s apology into perspective.
Not just during her imperial wars and conquests, but of much more recent vintage, the British Army has been a major violator of people’s rights and freedoms, including the rights of children. Witness the recent call by the Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the former British PM Tony Blair to be taken before the International Criminal Court and be held to account over Britain’s illegal role in the invasion of Iraq, an invasion undertaken in defiance of the United Nations mandate. How many children were indiscriminately killed, maimed and orphaned by this illegal act?
Does Jonathan Irwin, CEO of the Jack and Jill Foundation, along with Peter Mulvany, see nothing wrong with the odious association between an aggressive predatory army and a children’s charity? I certainly do.