Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Irish Minister replies to query about Toraigh ferry safety concerns

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

There have been a number of recent news items on the Celtic League website in regard to the ferry service to the island of Toraigh, which is 14.5 kilometres (9.0 miles) off the north-west coast of County Donegal, Ireland. The people of Toraigh are objecting to a 40 year old vessel, Queen of Aran, becoming the replacement ferry imposed on them by the Department of the Gaeltacht. They have been supported in their fight by the Celtic League and Irish language groups. The League, in a campaign led by its Irish branch, has said any ferry service must meet IMO SOLAS standards.

Bernard Moffatt President of Manx nationalist party Mec Vannin, also wrote a query on the issue to the Irish government. The reply is below in which the Minister assures safety standards will be adhered to. However, the reply does not  mention Ireland’s obligations under SOLAS. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime treaty which sets minimum safety standards in the construction, equipment and operation of merchant ships.

Dear Bernard

Thank you for your emails, dated 10 and 12 February 2018 respectively, concerning the ferry service for Tory Island, off the north-west coast of Co. Donegal, which the Department of the Taoiseach forwarded to my Department for direct reply to you.

As the matters you have raised relate specifically to passenger vessels, I wish to confirm that all passenger vessels operating in Irish waters are required to be inspected and appropriately certified to confirm they comply with all relevant safety legislation.

I wish to advise that the Marine Survey Office, which is part of the Irish Maritime Administration and is based in this Department, has primary responsibility for the enforcement of maritime safety legislation in Ireland.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your bringing this matter to my attention and for your interest in, and concern for, maritime safety.

 

 With best wishes,

 

image002.jpg@01D1AC72.9BAAB440

Shane Ross

Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport

The Minister is a Designated Public Official under the Regulation of Lobbying Act, 2015 (details available on www.lobbying.ie)

p&p Alastair Kneale, Celtic League

 

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Tuskar Rock Crash Archive Footage

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Tuskar Rock Aer Lingus crash I thought I would post two RTE Archive items which are seldom aired they were made some years ago.

The first deals with the sequence of events and focuses on the original report and includes an interview with the Accident Inspector who compiled it:

https://www.rte.ie/…/0…/948780-aer-lingus-crash-anniversary/

The second is footage of the air and sea search with footage shot at RAF Brawdy from which Royal Navy Gannet aircraft and RAF Shackletons carried out SAR operations:

http://www.rte.ie/…/0325/378263-45-years-since-aer-lingus-…/

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

28/03/18

 

A reason why Aer Lingus flight 712 crashed near Tuskar Rock off the Wexford coast is still being sought twenty five years after the event.
RTE.IE
 
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Tuskar Air Tragedy 50th. Commemoration

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

The 50th commemoration of the 61 victims of the crash of Aer Lingus flight EI 172 (St. Phelim) took place on Sat, last in Rosslare Harbour, Co. Wexford, Ireland. The flight had been on its way from Cork to London. It is Ireland’s worst aviation tragedy.

For background on the crash, the  subsequent investigations and the role of the CL in seeking to assist see: https://www.celticleague.net/news/irish-sea-air-tragedy-50th-anniversary/

All surviving relatives had been invited to the day long events and some ninety came including the widow of the pilot. The events were organised by the local St. Phelim 50th Anniversary Committee and supported by Wexford County Council, the Dept of Defence, Aer Lingus and many others, including all the rescue services who participated in recovery attempts at the time.

In the morning the relatives were taken on an Irish Navy vessel, LÉ Eithne, to the crash site at sea off the Tuskar Rock lighthouse. They were accompanied by a small flotilla comprised of the three Wexford lifeboats, trawlers and local vessels. At about the time the crash occurred, wreaths were left in the sea by the relatives who particularly appreciated this aspect of the commemoration.

In the afternoon in Rosslare Harbour Memorial Park further ceremonies took place. These ceremonies were attended by the Convenor of the Celtic League, Cathal Ó Luain and the International Branch Secretary, Patricia Bridson. The ceremonies began with the lowering to half-mast of the flags of the States of those who died (Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA) as the Last Post played (see photo below, which also shows the new memorial stone, bottom right).

Speeches were delivered by the Mayor of Wexford, a Minister of State from the Dept. Defence and Leo Coy, Chairman of the St. Phelim 50th Commemoration Committee. A short Ecumenical Service took place; Catholic, Church of Ireland and Humanist (the Humanist celebrant, Siobhán Walls, was a daughter of one of the victims). Following this a new granite memorial stone was unveiled which is wrapped with a chain with 61 links to remind of the sixty one victims. The unveiling of the new stone was performed by the widow of the pilot (Capt. Barney O’Beirne) and the Mayor of Wexford, Jim Moore.

A wreath laying ceremony then took place. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Irish Government, the people of Wexford, Aer Lingus, Irish Airline Pilots Association, Irish Coastguard, RNLI, and others. The flags of the States were then raised, and Reveille played, concluding the programme. The events were reported on RTE1 evening TV News.

The emphasis of the ceremonies seemed directed at closure. Some relatives however, such as Jerome McCormick, do not accept the findings of the second report which ruled out the possibility of a drone or activity associated with the UK missile range in Aberporth, South Wales. Certainly, it seemed to ignore eye witness evidence listed in the first report.  As pointed out by Bernard Moffatt, the comments below of eye witnesses match very well the livery of missile range aircraft –  which operated at the time from RAF Llanbedr to support range operations at Aberporth. (see photo below). The smaller aircraft on the right is a drone.

“Four (4) witnesses, Nos. 3, 3(a), 4 and 4(a), “after Mass and before dinner”, at Fethard saw an aeroplane with very red colour on wings and tail (“as if on fire”, but no smoke). Aeroplane went off in a south easterly direction. 8. 11.02. Two (2) witnesses, Nos. 13 and 14, near Carnsore P”

 

Issued by Cathal Ó Luain, Convenor, Celtic League

 

 

Flags of the States of those who died (Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA) fly at Half Mast (note also the new memorial stone, bottom right)

Missile range aircraft –  which operated at the time from RAF Llanbedr to support range operations at Aberporth. The smaller aircraft on the right is a drone.

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Minister lays wreath to remember sacrifice of Irish UN peacekeepers

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Ireland’s Minister with Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe has visited Irish troops serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Currently, a total of some 380 Irish personnel are serving with UNIFIL.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Ireland’s first deployment to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.

One Sunday, 18 March 2018 the Minister laid a wreath at a monument in Tibnin to remember the forty seven Irish men who died while serving with UNIFIL.

Minister Kehoe said that:

“In serving so selflessly Irish peacekeepers have helped save the lives of countless numbers of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world. Tragically, in saving those lives, too many of our finest people, like those remembered here today, have lost their own.”

Reflecting on the contributions of the Irish Defence Forces and the sacrifices made, the Minister added:

“the spirit of many Irish soldiers will remain in South Lebanon and the memorial will be a focal point, lest anyone forget the contribution they made.”

While in Lebanon the Minister visited a local community project which was funded with the assistance of Irish Aid.

To underline Ireland’s commitment to the UN peacekeeping role Minister Kehoe today reviewed troops shortly leaving for service on the Golan heights as part of the UNDOF (Department of Defence link):

http://www.defence.ie/…/R…/3C4C52D1ACDFF1EB80258259005CE08C…

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

23/03/18

 

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Is it time Irish military bases had LQA’s?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

IS IT TIME IRISH MILITARY BASES HAD LQAs?

When I stood down as DOI of the Celtic League I was asked by the AGM to carry on the Celtic League Military Monitoring role we had undertaken for over three decades. In that capacity earlier this year the Irish Branch Secretary, Caoimhin Cadhla, forwarded a news cutting about a potential long term exposure/contamination issue involving Irish Air Corps personnel. The details are at this link:

https://www.irishexaminer.com/…/air-corps-scandal-still-som…

Coincidentally the Celtic League ran a very successful campaign back in the early 1990s concerning pollution around military bases and the spillage usually due to lax environmental procedures of various carcinogenic substances including fuel, lubricants, de-icing compounds etc.

Eventually we sourced a suppressed British Army report by a women (2nd Lt Verity Orrel Jones) Royal Engineers Officer and brought this to the attention of UK members of Parliament. Subsequently the then Defence Secretary Michael Portillo admitted the seriousness of the issue and commissioned 600 Land Quality Assessments at British military bases (both permanent and temporary ) in Britain an N Ireland. The reports resuled in remedial work at many sites in Britain and N Ireland

Sometimes you miss what’s starring you in the face because of course the military tend to be the same everywhere and it’s unlikely that the lax procedures that allowed the pollution of bases by carcinogenic contaminants was not endemic on the other side of the border in the 26 Counties.

Interestingly the Irish government were made aware of our work in this regard when on the 7th of August 1998 I wrote to An Tanaiste about our concerns about pollution around military bases in the North and the potential implication for health of those living adjacent to the sites.

It strikes me that if Land Quality Assessments LQAs) similar to those carried out by the British military have not been undertaken at military sites operated by the Irish Defence Forces they should be. After all it’s not just service personnel potential pollution causes a threat to!

The Celtic League campaign work is archived in this rather lengthy general pdf file – however you can source the relevant sections by using ctrl-F and doing a word specific search:

https://www.celticleague.net/…/Celtic_League_News_Archive.p…

Image: Irish military base Casement aerodrome.

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

14/03/18

 

Ina series of articles across 2017, the Irish Examiner revealed serious concerns about the working environment within the Air Corps — matters that have seen allegations of a deliberate cover-up, of victimisation of whistleblowers, and of a…
IRISHEXAMINER.COM
 
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The Burial Mounds of Peel Hill – Where Did The Grave Urns Go!

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018
Item from the Mannin Branch of the Celtic League:
Speaking to some local folk recently it became clear that many folk are not aware as they trudge the paths of Peel Hill that there are a number of burial sites there. I don’t mean the famous Corrins Tower but rather much older early bronze age sites.

There is an interesting article here on four of the mounds and the contents found in them:

https://roundmounds.wordpress.com/…/exploring-round-mounds…/

You see the sites were ‘excavated’ which is a polite word for plundered by an Englishman called Richard Wood from Lancashire almost a century and a half ago in 1878. This was the period when droves of amateur archaeologists from England were investigating sites throughout the British Isles and beyond using methods that today would be considered more of a smash and grab than serious research. Evidence of Mr Woods possible ‘dig to the middle technique’ (which you will see in the concluding paras of the article) suggests he was after ‘trophies’ rather than an understanding of ancient people and their ritual.

The aim as well as finding what was in the site was to remove the contents for your own personal collection. You will see in the wordpress article that it records:

‘Sadly none of the finds from Peel Hill ever made it to the Manx Museum – it may well have been that Mr Woods took them home with him, as was common at the time.’

It may as the article says have been ‘common at the time’ but any artefacts taken in this manner should be returned to the Manx people and those who have them – if they are aware – have a moral responsibility to do so.

I personally find it offensive that were essentially graves were disturbed in this way but I suppose even present day archaeologists would argue that great knowledge accrues from such ‘finds’. I any case these days there are strict controls in place on such activity thank goodness.

It does make you wonder though just how much material was looted out of the Island by entrepreneurial archaeologists and shipped ‘east’. It also makes me wonder if the famous Chronicles which turned up as part of ‘the Cotton collection’ and were then ‘gifted to’ the British library were not also originally ‘nicked’ as well!

Images: Map of Peel Hill shows three of the sites (you will get a better image from the linked article) – also a grave urn of a similar type to those ‘carted off’ to Lancashire and other points East.

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

21/03/18

 

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Irish Sea air tragedy 50th anniversary

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Saturday next will mark the anniversary of the worst loss of life in a air crash over the Irish Sea. It was March 24th 1968 when Aer Lingus Flight EI-AOM Flight 712 ‘St Phelim’ crashed near Tuskar Rock off Wexford all on board the Viscount airliner perished.

The crash is still the subject of controversy with some believing that there was military involvement in the crash due to testing of missiles at the Aberporth range in West Wales. This is denied by the United Kingdom although an initial Irish government enquiry pointedly did not rule it out.

Another theory was that mechanical failure occurred – although why the plane sent no distress message is unclear as it took approx 10/12 mins to fall from it cruising height into the sea.

The Celtic League (as part of our Military Monitoring) campaigned for many years over the issue and corresponded with both the Irish and British government and the UK MOD. We were part of a more general campaign which saw a new enquiry eventually set up by the Irish government – but by then many records including military logs had been lost or destroyed.

Sadly the conclusions of the new enquiry still left questions unanswered for relatives of the crash victims such as Jerome McCormick.

In July of 2017 Jerome travelled to the Isle of Man to personally thank the Celtic league and was interviewed by reporter James Davis at Manx Radio (link):

http://www.manxradio.com/…/league-thanked-in-search-for-ae…/

Mr McCormick’s quest for answers continues and whilst it was good of him to make the effort to thank our organisation which highlighted the issue for over two decades I just wish we could have found conclusive answers. As it is for some the uncertainty continues half a century later.

Note: The quite copious correspondence of the Celtic League on this incident and our general military monitoring files are lodged in the Manx National Heritage Library – other related correspondence is archived at the National Library of Wales.

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

20/03/18

 

Victim’s brother meets representatives
MANXRADIO.COM
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Rightful indignation over Salisbury but what about the UK government gassing at Long Kesh?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

With the United Kingdom government waxing lyrical about alleged ‘appalling’ activities of the Russian FSB in targeting two expatriate Russians with chemical weapons (which also injured a police officer who went to their assistance). Much is made of the fact that this is the first time since World War 2 that chemical weapons have been used in Europe.

However what is conveniently overlooked by the current UK administration is that they allegedly committed an ‘appalling crime’ when they used CR gas against scores of inmates at Long Kesh prison in N Ireland in the 1970s. Files on the affair where gas was dropped onto the sealed compounds during a disturbance are so sensitive that they remain classified. The conditions at the temporary prison had been condemned by the International Red Cross.

Celtic League have probed the events at Long Kesh for years and there has been a steady drip of information first denials and then confirmation that the events (as former prisoners contended) occurred.

Just a few years ago we became aware that the British Security Services deployed the highly carcinogenic gas to N Ireland in an operation codenamed ‘Operation Pagoda’ and files on this still remain classified with a further review on there release next year.

We have pressed the UK and Irish governments to seek transparency. We also tried to find out if proper health care was provided after troops equipped with breathing apparatus removed the most ill inmates who had been exposed. The UK is strangely quiet on the issue. However in the meantime many of those exposed to the gassing have died.

As well as pressing Russia the UK government needs to clean out its own ‘chemical weapons’ cupboard and own up to what happened at Long Kesh.

Image: Long Kesh after the disturbance in 1974.

Related links:

https://www.celticleague.net/…/another-file-on-cr-gas-foun…/

https://www.celticleague.net/…/irish-government-urged-to-s…/

https://www.celticleague.net/…/eire-irish-government-asked…/

https://www.celticleague.net/…/mod-pressed-to-published-fi…/

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

17/03/18

 

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Defiant Islanders Reject Obsolete Ferry

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

The beleaguered Islanders of Tory Island off Donegal have expressed their determination not to have a 40 years old vessel that seemed fit only for the scrapheap become the replacement ferry imposed on them by the Department of the Gaeltacht.

The Islanders are supported in their fight by the Celtic League and Irish language groups. The League, in a campaign led by its Irish branch, has said any ferry service must meet IMO SOLAS standards.

A report today on Highland Radio (Donegal) says:

“The community of Tory Island have reiterated that they will be rejecting the Queen of Aran ferry when it comes into service next month.

The contract for the current service is due to cease on 1st April, to be replaced by the 40 year old Queen of Aran, a vessel with which Tory Island residents are not happy with.

Following a meeting on Tuesday night on the Island, Manager of Tory Island Co-Op Marjorie Carroll says the community as a whole agreed that if the Queen of Aran is to be the main boat servicing the island on the 2018/2023 contract they will not be accepting it.

The community of Tory Island are to stand in unity in rejecting the Queen of Aran ferry when it is due to come into service on April 1st.

At a meeting on the island on Tuesday, it was agreed the 40 year old vessel would not be accepted to service the island.”

Related link:

http://oileanthorai.com/

Link to full Highland Radio news report here:

http://www.highlandradio.com/…/tory-community-state-they-w…/

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

08/03/18

 

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Nae Pasaran: The forgotten story of Scottish workers solidarity for oppressed Chile

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

The Scottish newspaper ‘The National’ reports on a new documentary about a decision by four Rolls Royce workers at the companies East Kilbride plant who organised a boycott of spare parts to the Chilean Air Force after the coup that brought Pinochet to power.

The film highlights that the embargoed parts that were held at the plant for four years were possibly eventually delivered in exchange for political prisoners.

It also highlights that workers following new legislation introduced after 1979 are now precluded from such actions of solidarity.

I met Chilean communists and socialists at a conference in Tripoli, Libya in the early 1990s asked about the Pinochet era from which the country had recently emerged they said it was a dark period an era of terror. Even then they were wary and had travelled clandestinely as although Pinochet had stood down and democracy returned he was still symbolic head of the armed forces until 1998.

Perhaps actions like that of the Scottish workers cast some light into that ‘dark period’ either way it was so significant that records on the era as the documentary records are closed for at least another twenty years

Here’s the link:

http://www.thenational.scot/…/16062448.The_East_Kilbride_f…/

Image: The legitimate President Allende before the coup under attack by Chilean Air Force Hunter jets just before his death. The Scottish workers subsequently boycotted engine spares for the aircraft.

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

03/03/18

 

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