A Sinn Fein Councillor has spoken of her “annoyance” after claiming that children held guns with soldiers at a British Army stand during an agriculture show in Enniskillen during the summer.

Councillor Debbie Coyle, who was representing the Policing and Community Safety Partnership at the Fermanagh County Show in August, said the gun display was “inappropriate”.

“There I am giving out pencils and personal alarms and arm bands for children to glow in the dark, and they are giving kids guns to hold,” she told this newspaper yesterday (Wednesday).

“I didn’t feel it was appropriate for the British Army to be at the gate. As you walked into the county show you were expecting to find things around agriculture, tractors, different things, but the first thing you are met with are men, British soldiers, with guns,” she said.

Councillor Coyle made her complaint at a meeting of the PCSP in Enniskillen Townhall on Tuesday night and speaking yesterday she reiterated her opposition to the sight of guns.

“If they didn’t have guns there wouldn’t be an issue, but there were young children lifting them and having their photographs taken. We were in the stall next to them promoting community work and there they were promoting and recruiting for the British Army.

“This has nothing to do with politics,” said Councillor Coyle, “My objection is allowing children to hold a gun. It would be all right if it was in a back field somewhere, but not as you walk into an agricultural show,” she said.

“The guns should not have been there, I was personally very annoyed about this. Next year I do not want to be beside a British Army tent when I am there talking about community, policing and safety,” said Councillor Coyle.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Alex Baird, who attended Tuesday night’s meeting as a member of the public, said he was “disappointed and angered” at the remarks by Councillor Coyle.

“I found her comments to be most hypocritical considering where she sits on the political spectrum and the past association of her party with provisional Sinn Fein with illegal armed terrorist groups. Her time would have been better spent condemning past terrorist activity and calling on anyone with information on these crimes to pass it on to the police.

“We are approaching the anniversary of the end of World War One when soldiers from across the British Isles served in the British army as indeed they continue to do. These soldiers helped to establish the freedom and democracy we now all enjoy,” he told this newspaper.