The British Ministry of Defense has apologised after an Royal Air Force (RAF) recruitment poster was erected close to the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre. The poster has caused deep unhappiness and offense to residents and victims families.
The advertisement was placed in the Brandywell area of Derry, where British soldiers shot dead 13 innocent civil rights protesters in January 1972.
Emmet Doyle from the SDLP said “A number of people have been in touch to say how disgusted they are, and how they find the poster deeply offensive, especially given the time of year in the lead up to the anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
"I contacted those responsible for erecting the poster, which I understand was put up in the last 24 hours. I asked for it to be removed immediately and I have been told it will be taken down by the end of the day. I hope such an occurrence never happens again.
"Lessons must be learned that these sort of posters can cause a lot of hurt and distress in the local area."
The Irish Times reports of the distress caused to the victims families. Kate Nash, the sister of one of the dead men, said: “I was incensed, we are anti-war - and to have that looking at us outside our door was very hurtful.”
Her brother William Nash was 19 when the paratroopers opened fire in the Bogside area of the city early in the conflict
Ronald McKeegan, Chair of the Ulster Unionist Party's Foyle Association, expressed his disgust and disappointment at the SDLP campaign.
He said: "The year might be 2014, but the SDLP obviously haven't moved on.
"On one hand Alex Attwood pleads for people to grasp new opportunities, but here we have one of his colleagues seeking the removal of an RAF recruitment poster which actually pictures an RAF medic at work.
"It was advertising for local people to join the RAF Reserves which will be based at Aldergrove."
He added: "It is a sad reflection of the SDLP and some of its members that they get involved in actions like this. It sends out the wrong message to the unionist people of Londonderry. So much for a shared society."
Following the backlash, a statement issued by the MoD said: "The MoD apologises for any offence that may have been caused as a result of the placement of this advert, this was certainly not our intention.
"The MoD is an equal opportunity employer irrespective of cultural, ethnic or religious background and as such endeavours to inform the widest possible number of people of the careers open to prospective candidates.
"The use of billboards and other multi-media marketing tools are a major part of the marketing of the recruitment and as such have the widest possible distribution."
The Saville inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday opened in 1998 and took 12 years to complete.
It found that those killed were innocent and British Prime Minister David Cameron said the deaths were unjustified and unjustifiable.
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