The Andersonstown News can reveal that a member of the Royal Air Force has been invited into several West Belfast schools over the past year in his role as a Careers Officer – and also sits on a local school’s Board of Governors.

The news – which will shock parents of schoolchildren – comes after the RAF’s Northern Ireland Schools Liaison Officer, Pat Jamison, left his business card – containing the RAF logo and crest, as well as his mobile and work phone numbers – at a local school. Mr Jamison – who works out of Palace Barracks – says he’s a former Lenadoon resident and cites St Finian’s and Christian Brothers Secondary (CBS) on the Glen Road as his former schools. We can also reveal that it is CBS where Mr Jamison sits on the Board of Governors.

Despite repeated attempts by the Andersonstown News to contact CBS, no-one from the school was available for comment. But the Andersonstown News can reveal that Mr Jamison – who is also the holder of an MBE (Member of the British Empire) – has been on the school’s Board of Governors for several years.

When contacted by the Andersonstown News Mr Jamison refused to answer any questions relating to his associations with CBS, but he did admit that he has sent letters to schools in West Belfast on RAF headed notepaper asking to meet careers teachers and principals in his capacity as the RAF’s School Liaison Officer for Northern Ireland. He admitted that as a result he has been invited into several schools in West Belfast over the past 12 months but says that at no time has he spoken about a career in the RAF to local schoolchildren. Instead, he says, he offers a service “free of charge” which involves him talking to students about interview skills, job application forms, presentation skills, building self-confidence as well as team building exercises.

“I like to go in without the RAF badge on and help in any way,” said Mr Jamison. “But I have never done an RAF presentation in West Belfast. I know it is sensitive because I have lived there.”

However, one CBS parent – who didn’t wish to be named – said he was “astonished” that someone with an RAF background was on the school’s Board of Governors.

“Considering West Belfast’s history with British state forces – particularly over the past 35 years – you have to wonder what on earth is this man doing sitting on the school’s Board of Governors,” he said. “I also want to know how he ended up there. Did he approach the school or did the school approach him?

“I’d also like to know what is discussed at these meetings considering that he is sitting there. I also wonder whether other members of the CBS Board of Governors know about his background.”

Last night West Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Maskey – who has been working closely with local schools through the Safer Streets initiative – said he was angered by the RAF being allowed access to local schools under the auspices of giving careers advice.

“It’s a bit rich for somebody from the RAF to come into schools in West Belfast. Parents need to know that this is happening,” said Cllr Maskey.

“Principals of schools also need to take into consideration the feelings of people living in West Belfast who are not ready for the British army or the RAF to come into their schools and probably never will be,”added.

Journalist:: Anthony Neeson

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