Anger over weapon ban on Royal Marines visiting school

Royal Marines were banned from bringing unloaded weapons into a school in Oban. Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Royal Marines were banned from bringing unloaded weapons into a school in Oban. Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
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Councillors have criticised a decision to ask Royal Marines to leave their unloaded weapons outside a school when they were delivering a classroom presentation.

The marines who were invited to talk to pupils at primary schools in Oban were given a last-minute instruction not to bring the tools of their trade inside.

Yesterday Roddy McCuish, an independent councillor and depute provost for Argyll and Bute council, said: “I am extremely disappointed in the actions that have been taken, do they want the Royal Marines to sit in a corner and sing Kumbaya?

“Given that the Royal Marines do what they do, you would expect them to have weapons with them, there is no live ammunition, they are highly trained professionals and it’s the tools of their trade.

“If you go to an airport, or a train station, you will see armed police in Scotland so I don’t see the difference.”

Parents at Dunbeg and Rockfield primary schools had received a letter about the visit leaving then free to decide whether to allow their children to attend.

The marines visit the two schools regularly, in memory of local man Gordon MacPherson, a Royal Marine who was killed in action in the Falklands.

Councillor McCuish, who said he had apologised to the Royal Marines for the decision, taken by the local authority, said: “As I understand it, there was one complaint. Of course you take people’s concerns seriously but the majority of people I have spoken to don’t seem to have any concerns over this, I am disappointed that there was this knee-jerk reaction.”

Fellow councillor Jamie McGrigor, a former Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said the marines should never have been asked to leave their weapons outside without a policy change being agreed by councillors.

Mr McGrigor said: “I am horrified by this. I think this is an example of the nanny state and political correctness undoing what has become a tradition in Dunbeg, in memory of one of their brave sons who died in the Falklands.”

The Royal Marines said they could not comment on the council’s stance on the weapons, as that was a decision for the local authority and they had merely respected its request.

Argyll and Bute Council declined to say who made the decision not to allow weapons in to the schools.