A ROW has broken out between a Royal British Legion official and York’s Green Party leader, following Armed Forces Day activities in the city.

As soldiers and veterans were manning stalls in Parliament Street in York to mark the event last Sunday, a group of peace protesters including the Green Party’s Coun Andy D’Agorne walked along the street and handed out anti-war literature.

The incident annoyed a local Royal British Legion chairman, who described the actions as a “total lack of respect”.

Coun D’Agorne said there was no intention to upset and it was coinicidence the Scotland to London peace vigil was in York on that day. However, he questioned the Territorial Army’s “encouraging” of children to handle military equipment at the event.

Cliff Lawrie, chairman of the Fulford branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “While the majority of veterans were in the church service and the service personal were setting up, Mr D’Agorne and a band of about 15 followers walked down Parliament Street waving peace banners and tried to give anti-war and peace literature out to veterans manning the stalls. It was a total insult and total lack of respect and it upset many around me.

“To us it was a mark of disrespect, and to be approached and an attempt to give peace literature by one of his followers added insult to injury. Many veterans fought so we can enjoy relative peace in our time and allow the freedoms to demonstrate and free speech.”

Coun D’Agorne said there was “certainly no intention to insult, disrespect or offend any veterans” by him or the group of mostly Quakers who were visiting York as part of their campaign for nuclear disarmament.

He said: “The literature given out was explaining their cause and the purpose of their march to Parliament, no doubt in the same way that the Royal British Legion would have had literature quite legitimately explaining the good work they do for ex-forces personnel.

“I have never made any secret of my membership of CND and have a good relationship with Imphal Barracks. As with the other three parties on the council, I signed the ‘military covenant’ recognising the special place of the military in our local community.”

But he said he found the military display of military equipment and guns intended to “entertain and excite young children” on the day was inappropriate.

Coun D’Agorne said: “Deranged action by lone individuals with firearms has led to tragic consequences in recent years. They are not toys and should not be presented to young children in our town centre and portrayed on TV in the hands of small children on the early evening news.”

He said he would be happy to meet the Royal British Legion to discuss the matter.