‘Armee Magh’ daubing campaign recalled

In addition to the open campaign that the AMA and Celtic League Mannin ran in the 1970/80s which involved leafleting, adverts in newspapers and open protest military activity in Mann attracted clandestine dissent. Indeed opposition to the military became something of a cause célèbre. I’m a bit long in the tooth for a renewed cause célèbre but who knows history has a habit of repeating itself.

The area around Jurby was targeted. Jurby Camp at that time being used by TA units for training and also by units of the Regular Army and UDR (the now disbanded Ulster Defence Regiment) on occasion. The slogan ‘ARMEE MAGH’ appeared most noticeably daubed in giant lettering on a concrete panel on the Airfield side of the A14. Loosely translated it means in Manx ‘Out with the soldiers’.

In addition the AMA produced ‘The Celtic League and AMA News’ a usually quarterly publication which ran for several years. Peter Berresford Ellis in his book ‘The Celtic Dawn’ records the success of the campaign.

Records on both Isle of Man military monitoring and the more general campaign across the Celtic countries including copious correspondence with the MOD, RAF, RN and British Army and French government are held in MNH Library and the National Library of Wales. Copies of the AMA newsletter are lodged with MNH Library.

The Isle of Man campaign focused on three issues. The NATO sea bombing range, Army exercises and Army recruitment. An early success was achieved when Tynwald scrapped plans to extend the sea bombing range. This had attracted dissent not just from nationalists but also fishermen and farmers in the NW. AMA distributed well over 1000 leaflets to homes on the Northern Plain. We also monitored overflights thereafter. In relation to land military exercises a key feature was an agreement in 1985 to end exercises during nesting periods on the Ayres after damage in earlier years this was achieved amicably.

Celtic League formally ended military monitoring in 2000 but restarted it some years later and we keep tabs on both British, French and NATO activity around the Celtic countries.

Note: AMA was the ‘Anti Militarist Alliance formed in 1976 between members of the Celtic League (Mannin Branch) and Manx Nationalist Party Mec Vannin. The Celtic league formerly adopted military monitoring as policy across the League four years later and the AMA ceased to exist.

Image: Anti recruitment slogan from the 1970s

Bernard Moffatt

Celtic League Military Monitoring

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