• January 2, 2015


It has been revealed that recruitment of Irish nationals into the British Army has dropped by almost 50% over the past year. Seventy Irish citizens joined in 2012 as opposed to 123 the previous year.

Some Irish media have speculated that dissident republican threats against potential recruits is a factor but this seems unlikely as republican opposition to such recruitment is deeply entrenched and has been for years without affecting numbers.

Recently a series of scandals have beset the British Army both domestically and internationally. Domestically the fall-out from the spate of ‘suicides’ at the now defunct Deepcut training centre is still the subject of enquiry whilst Internationally the British Army faces allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraq.

Bizarrely, recruitment by the British Army also appears to have been encouraged by bodies within the Irish State.

The Celtic League pointed out some years ago that ‘job opportunities’ in the British army were allegedly circulated by the employment office in Limerick. We also established that the MOD was accessing the educational and employment data of Irish applicants.

The League pointed out to the Department of Foreign Affairs in September 2010 that the above practices appeared to be a direct contravention of the Irish Defence Act 1954 (Section 312a) (text below).

“Minister Micheál Martin TD
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Department of Foreign Affairs
80 St. Stephen’s Green,
Dublin 2


Dear Minister,

We exchanged correspondence with your Department in June 2008 concerning British Army recruitment in Ireland.

The Celtic League have revisited this issue recently following allegations that unemployed people in the City of Limerick were circulated with information advising them to seek career opportunities in the British Army.

We subsequently pointed out to UK HQ Army Recruitment that the Laws of Ireland make it a criminal offence to encourage a person to join a foreign army (Section 312 of the Defence Act 1954).

In an exchange of correspondence, ending with the letter enclosed (22 September 2010); the British Army have defended their position.

However you will note that in the most recent communication they say:

“All soldier applicants are required to supply the name and address of one referee and recruiters are required to verify up to three years of an applicant’s academic/employment history as part of the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) check. Approaches to these referees are made in writing and only with the applicant’s consent.”

It is clear from this that the United Kingdom government routinely ask individuals, educational or employment institutions in Ireland to validate information as part of their recruitment process.

I would suggest to you that individuals who furnish such corroborative information may be acting in breach of Section 312 (a) of the Defence Act 1954.

You may wish to ascertain from the United Kingdom government further information on this cross-referencing process as it obviously would be inimical for an agency of the UK to place citizens of Ireland in a position where inadvertently they may break the law.

Yours faithfully,”

Strangely while the United Kingdom actively encourages foreign nationals to join its forces it takes a diametrically opposite position in relation to its own citizens going overseas to engage in conflict. Some Moslem men (and women) who have gone to Syria face prosecution if it’s proven they have taken up arms there – even if they have fought with the Free Syrian Army a body supported by the UK government.

Related links:





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

Internet site at:



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