• February 2, 2016


Any one who follows our CL News releases will see that we have a degree of scepticism about the wave of military hysteria that seems to be sweeping our country.

First of all back in the spring we had ‘military-fest’ on the promenade and the great ‘reserves’ debate’ I think using the MODs own figures we were able to demonstrate that the Reserves issue was only rolled out to the dependencies when it failed to meet targets set in the UK and the MOD were getting…well desperate.

The other irony about the reserves was that trained professional troops who wanted to continue service were being made compulsorily redundant (to reduce the frontline size of the British Army) while reserves were being recruited. I always thought it strange that people thought they were ‘supporting the troops’ by putting full-time personnel in the dole queue!

Then there was Juan running around in uniform (aka Juan Watterson MHK the Armed Forces Champion) and much warbling about ‘armed forces covenants’.

First of all Allan Bell rushed to enlist the government to the ‘covenant mania’ although what it means in practical terms is moot!

I see recently that Rushen Commissioners proudly announced that they were the first local authority to sign this – what it means I’m unsure. Do they organise the knitting of ‘comforts for the troops’?

The Celtic League start from an anti-militarist perspective so I suppose we are hostile. However I do have respect for human life and therefore over the years have via Celtic League have found myself an unlikely champion for truth in relation to incidents involving the deaths of service personnel and cadets the MOD would like to keep covered up.

For example we highlighted, as long ago the early 1980s, mystery surrounding the deaths of two airmen in a Hawk trainer jet which crashed on the north of the Isle of Man. The accident is still unexplained but our ferreting around eventually uncovered serious issues at the time with the Hawk trainer which subsequently underwent engine modifications. We also campaigned over a number of helicopter accidents in both N. Ireland and in Wales. At Padarn Lake in N. Wales 3 air cadets died.

More disturbing was the controversy surrounding the now closed Deepcut Army training centre where several inexplicable suicides occurred amongst young recruits.

We also highlighted the propensity of the Ministry of Defence to dump people with drug problems or other trauma back into their communities without support although this is an issue that various charitable organisations are now addressing.

Even before the first Gulf War we had spoken out about the use of depleted uranium munitions in conventional conflict and I note today there is a suggestion that this could be a contributory factor in so called ‘Gulf War Syndrome’.

Of course we criticise the Military when there justification over environmental issues abuse or over the deaths of civilians including children in N Ireland or the well publicised incidents in Iraq.

However the biggest problem military personnel face is the MOD culture of cover-up and in that regard two incidents probably personify it most. The Kintyre Chinook crash and the loss of a Nimrod reconnaissance plane in Afghanistan. Between the two incidents over forty people died due to the failure of the MOD to maintain its duty of care.

I wonder will any of these organisations rushing to sign ‘covenants’ or becoming ‘armed forces champions’ speak out and confront the MOD on the serious problems facing armed forces personnel. If I was a serviceman I wouldn’t hold my breath!

Note: All files relating to Celtic League Military Monitoring including correspondence relating to the issues mentioned above are lodged with MNH Library


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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