• February 26, 2015


The Irish government has responded positively to a query from the Celtic League about the long running controversy over the alleged use of CR Gas during a protest at Long Kesh prison in the early 1970s.

It was reported by prisoners at the time that whilst within the confines of the prison perimeter the prison service and military forces guarding the camp dropped large quantities of the highly carcinogenic riot control agent from helicopters on protesting prisoners.

Many allege that they suffered long term health problems and indeed it is claimed some have died as a result of the exposure to CR at the time.

It was eventually admitted by the UK that stocks of CR (a potentially much more lethal compound than CS) gas were held by the British Army in the North of Ireland.

The British insist they never used it operationally but tellingly they have no details of the quantity held or strangely where the stocks were eventually disposed of.

In December the Celtic League wrote to both the Irish and UK governments about the matter and we asked them to raise it with the British government via the British-Irish Council. A link to the query to Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DOFA) can be found here:


In their response the DOFA say they have done just that:

“20th February 2015

Our Reference: A10140280

Dear Mr Moffatt,

On behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Mr Charles Flanagan T.D., I would like to thank you for your letter of 15th December 2015 concerning the use of CR gas by British authorities in Northern Ireland.

This matter has been raised with the British authorities on a number of occasions, most recently in January 2015 through the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Belfast. The British authorities reiterated that ‘CR gas was never used operationally’ in the North, although they note that in 1974 CR was issued to operational units and the authorisation for deployment under certain circumstances had been given by British Ministers.

Please keep the Department informed about the outcome of your latest correspondence with the British Ministry of Defence on the matter,

Yours sincerely,

Robert O’Driscoll
Private Secretary”

The correspondence to the UK MOD from the Celtic League calls on the British government to ‘de-restrict’ files on the ‘use of CR gas – dibenzoxazepine’ covering the period January 1973 – December 1977.

Despite earlier claims by the British that all files had been lost the Celtic League learned these ‘closed’ files are held by the UK National Archive at Kew.

As yet the MOD has not responded to our query (see link):


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).


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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