NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
In December of 2014 we wrote to the British Government seeking information held by the British Government on ‘Operation Pagoda’ which was a code name given to the use of CR Gas in Northern Ireland.
There are a number of outstanding issues in relation to CR in the North the most significant being the alleged use of the highly carcinogenic riot gas to quell prison disturbances in the 1970s. It is alleged that significant quantities were dropped from helicopters ironically it has been alleged since that security forces that also ingested the gas were not aware of its toxicity.
Another issue relates to the quantity held by the British in the North at the time and its subsequent disposal.
Celtic League had raised the issue with the MOD some years ago and been told at the time that they had limited records on the period.
We subsequently identified that there were records at the British National Archive at Kew.
We therefore wrote to the British Government (MOD) and also to Irelands Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan.
The Irish Government responded fairly promptly saying the issue had been raised with the British authorities and also asking to be kept abreast of our efforts to obtain information (link below):
The United Kingdom was not so forthcoming and they only responded last month, 30th June 2015, citing a ‘failure of internal systems’, (Ref: Army Sec 17/04/75131 MOD Army HQ, Andover, Hampshire).
They confirm that the file we indentified DEFE 24/1203 does exist but say it is ‘closed’ with no review due until 2019.
Helpfully they also indentify another file (following what they describe as a trawl of their records) on CR gas, DEFE 13/1379 which is open.
We have forwarded a copy of the MOD correspondence to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.
We have suggested they may wish to obtain DEFE 13/1379 and also press for an earlier review of 24/1203. It is important that as much light as possible is cast on such legacy issues and certainly the release of DEFE 24/1203 may help some of those still living who have unresolved allegations about their exposure to CR gas.
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.
The Celtic League was established in 1961and 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