A man from Irvine in Scotland has criticised the MoD after British Army troops from the Scots Guards set up in the town centre with guns.
Yes, you read that correctly, soldiers had guns.
Campaigner and Ayrshire CND secretary Arthur West was quoted in a local paper, the Irvine Times, as saying:
“The stall was a recruitment stall and as well as leaflets it had four machine guns pointing into a pedestrian shopping area. I was really quite disturbed by what I saw. I’ll not say the guns were loaded but they were pointing out on to the street and I just think that’s unacceptable.
If they’re going to try and recruit in areas they should do it responsibility, they should be handing out leaflets in a reasonable way, I was quite shocked. I have seen this in a few places. I was in Kilmarnock about a year ago, and also in Glasgow.
I’ve already got worries anyway that they seem to concentrate on schools and areas that have high unemployment. We had reports last week that areas of Irvine have a third of child poverty, and suffered down the years from a lot of job losses as well. There does seem to be a link about the army giving a high profile to recruitment in areas where there is high unemployment and low income, and if they’re going to do that they need to do that responsibly.
I just think it’s really distasteful and if they’re going to recruit they should be doing it in a balanced way. I just think it’s totally inappropriate. The time in Kilmarnock, I think the soldiers that were there were a bit embarrassed about it, there wasn’t any dust up, but I went and spoke to them and think they felt a bit awkward about it.
They were just doing their job and as people know the army is very hierarchical and you do as you’re told, so I did think it would be a bit unfair to have a go at the people that were there on the day. There were four soldiers and they were all quite young. I made a formal complaint but would be interested to see any response.”
A spokesperson for the British Army said:
“The display weapons were under the control of professional soldiers who apply the highest standard of weapon discipline. At no point where they pointed at members of the public and no ammunition was present during this event.”