NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
The Irish branch of the Celtic League (An Conradh Ceilteach) has placed on record its formal opposition to the new British – Irish military training agreement.
In a letter to the Office of the Taoiseach the Convenor of the Irish branch, Cathal O Luain sets out why the deal is not just harmful to the image of the Defence Forces but is also an insult to all those in Ireland who suffered at the hands of the British Army over the last 40 years.
The full text of the letter is set out below:
An Conradh Ceilteach (The Irish branch of the Celtic League) wish to express our total opposition to the military training agreement signed between the Irish Government and the United Kingdom today.
An Conradh Ceilteach is aware that other organisations in Ireland share our concern at this agreement which many regard as part of a ‘stealth agenda’ to integrate the Defence Forces in both bilateral and pan-european structures.
The Celtic League at Inter-Celtic level has already issued a statement praising the high regard with which the Defence Forces are perceived internationally because of their peace-keeping duties. Obviously we re-echo those points but would add that the very integrity of our troop’s ability to carry such peace-keeping will be fatally compromised by any formal association with the armed forces of the United Kingdom.
The government does a great injustice to those who have given there service as UN peace-keepers to associate our forces with organisations such as the British Army which have a well publicised reputation for brutality and violence globally.
An Conradh Ceilteach is also aware of the great hurt that those in our own country brutalised and murdered by British armed forces over the past forty years will feel.
Alongside the well publicised mass killings such as those in Derry on Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy in the North are the bombings perpetrated in out in the State in Monaghan and Dublin few now believe that British army special forces armed and directed the perpetrators indeed the unit they were attached to based in Armagh is now well known.
Alongside these mass killings however there are also the smaller individual tragedies, Majella O’Hare a schoolgirl killed in the North and Seamus Ludlow a totally innocent civilian murdered one evening as he made his was home by paramilitary’s connected to and organised by British Army troops.
The most glaring absurdity of the proposed new ‘concord’ between State forces in Ireland and the British Army is that in living memory that same British army has ‘squared up’ to our own forces in border areas in some instances when the British army blundered across the border with the North. In those circumstances it was only the quiet professionalism of our own Army honed over many years of peace-keeping that stopped such incidents from deteriorating into open conflict.
We have no doubt that the Irish Army has much to teach its contemporaries in other States about the ‘arts of peace-keeping’ but one of the key elements that ensures that it has these skills is the very independence and non-aligned nature of its role. This will be fatally compromised and in the future this government may yet have to been held to account if Irish peace-keepers are threatened because of the perceived association with a force (the British Army) which is held in such low esteem in many parts of the world.
We urge the Irish government to rethink this decision or at the very least declare a moratorium so that democratic and open debate about the agreement can be conducted.
Is mise, le meas,
Cathal Ó Luain
An Conradh Ceilteach”
Footnote: The agreement was signed on Monday 19th of January by Simon Coveney Irelands Defence Minister and is UK counterpart Michael Fallon.
The UK is milking the publicity for all its worth with a picture of the ‘historic’ agreement being signed on the opening page of the MOD website:
By contrast the deals ratification in tucked away in press releases on the Irish governments defence.ie site.
Related links at the celticleague.net archive here:
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(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.)
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