• April 29, 2015



The Celtic League has had a response from the Department of Defence (DoD) (Ireland) to a query we raised about the potential recruitment of under eighteen year old Irish Nationals into the UK armed forces (see link):


The response whilst prompt was disappointing as the Minister seems to ‘wash his hands of the issue’ saying we should refer the issue to UK authorities.

We have responded saying that we frequently raise the issue of both under age recruitment (the UN defines the age of majority as 18 years) with the UK in relation to Celtic areas within their orbit of influence.

However we go on to point out that abuse of the UN principles is primarily the responsibility of the Irish authorities when it involves Irish Nationals and allowing recruitment processes for young people to start while they are under eighteen effectively condones that abuse.

We also highlight the scandal surrounding the deaths of a number of vulnerable young people in the UK armed forces in recent years.

The League has thanked the DoD (and the Office of the Taoiseach) for the prompt response and for referring a related issue on to the State Examinations Commission.

The full text of our reply is set out below:

“Mr Simon Coveney, T.D.,
Minister of Defence
An Roinn Cosanta
Station Road
Co. Kildare

29th April 2015

Dear Minister,

Thank you for your letter of the 27th instance (sent by Private Secretary Vincent Lowe) responding to a query we forwarded to An Taoiseach on 28th February 2015 concerning the recruitment of Irish Nationals under the age of eighteen years of age into the British armed forces.

Can I say immediately that whilst we welcome the fairly prompt response to out query I am afraid the substance of that response is less than satisfactory.

Our query concerned the recruitment of Irish children into the armed forces of an external Power (a child, as defined by the United Nations, being someone who under eighteen years of age).

It is for An Taoiseach to determine which Department of the State is best placed to deal with such a query and he determined that An Roinn Cosanta should respond.

I note in your reply you effectively ‘wash your hands of the issue’ and say that we should raise the issue with the United Kingdom .

I can assure you that in relation to those Celtic countries (Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man and Cornwall) whose Nationals are recruited generally into UK armed forces we maintain a vigorous correspondence not only over the recruitment of under eighteen year olds but also the maintenance of that State of cadet forces which recruit children as young as twelve.

However this is not the issue we raised with An Taoiseach. We specifically pointed out that Irish Nationals under eighteen could be targeted for recruitment in clear breach of United Nations guidance on the age of majority. That is not an issue for the UK authorities (who in this instance are abusing that principle but for the Irish authorities (and your Department was delegated by An Taoiseach to respond) which allow the abuse to occur.

I do not use the term ‘abuse’ lightly. You may, or may not, be aware that there are serious allegations surrounding the deaths of several young people in the United Kingdom armed forces. In addition the associated cadet services were recently also the focus of abuse allegations when it was revealed that the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence had paid out several million pounds to resolve cases out of court.

Is this really the sort of environment your Department and the Government generally feel it is appropriate for Irish children to become involved in?

I do hope you will revisit consideration and in the meantime I will forward a copy of the correspondence to An Conradh Ceilteach (the Irish branch of the Celtic League) who may also wish to pursue the matter further.

In closing can I thank your Department for passing the correspondence to the State Examinations Commission to deal with the issue of data relating to children which might be shared with UK authorities.

We are also grateful to the Office of the Taoiseach for facilitating the response.

Yours sincerely

J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League”
Is this really the environment for young people from Ireland to choose to make a start in life (see links):


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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