Colum Eastwood ridicules 'nonsense' idea of national service for NI teens

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
-Credit: (Image: Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live)

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has ridiculed the idea of mandatory national service in the British Army for 18-year-olds in Northern Ireland.

The Derry politician was speaking after Tory leader Rishi Sunak said his government would introduce national service if elected on July 6.

Mr Eastwood described the policy proposal as "nonsense" as the Foyle MP said "people in Derry, West Belfast and across the North have a very different experience of the British Army".

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“This policy platform is unserious, unwanted and unworkable," he said in statement. "How does Rishi Sunak think he will force kids in Northern Ireland to perform national service in the British Army or undertake ‘mandatory volunteering’ - a total contradiction in terms?

“Public services are on their knees and public sector workers in our health service and schools are still out on strike fighting for a fair pay deal. How can the British Government afford at least £2.5bn for this nonsense but not stump up the cash for junior doctors or classroom assistants or school bus drivers? It’s absolutely perverse and it’s all about winning back voters in England who have abandoned the Conservatives."

He added: “Voters here will see right through it and understand that this is exactly why we need strong, vocal MPs at Westminster to call this out and vote it down.”

Writing on social media, Mr Eastwood added: "People in Derry, West Belfast and across the North have a very different experience of the British Army than people in Leicester - the idea that you can force kids here to sign up for a year is total nonsense."

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