• March 17, 2013



It is now over forty years since an Aer Lingus Viscount airliner crashed off the Wexford coast killing all sixty-one people on board.

The crash has been surrounded by controversy ever since not least because the initial enquiry held immediately after the crash pointedly would not rule out the possibility that the aircraft was struck by a missile fired from British weapons testing sites at that time sited on the mid Wales coast.

The British speedily discounted the idea saying that on the day of the crash (a Sunday) and indeed the whole of that weekend the base was closed.

However concerns persisted and over thirty years later the Irish government set up a further enquiry although by this time many records had been lost and a UK report into the crash had been mysteriously shredded.

The results of the new enquiry completely turned the missile involvement theory on its head and instead concluded that a catastrophic mechanical failure had caused the crash. In any case as the British authorities had been saying for years it would have been impossible for the involvement of their military to be covered-up as literally hundreds of personnel would have had to keep quiet – a scenario, they concluded, which was to say the least far-fetched.

Well not quite! Some years ago it was revealed that in July 1956 a USAF B47 bomber armed with nuclear weapons crashed at Lakenheath air force base in the UK. There was an extensive fire and although apparently no contamination of the nuclear material occurred it was one of the most serious military nuclear accidents to occur in the UK up to that time.

Despite the fact that Lakenheath was home to thousands (not hundreds) of personnel and their families and the fact that both RAF, USAF and government officials from both countries were aware of the crash no information leaked out for almost thirty years – and only then because US freedom of information laws facilitated the release.

When the UK military need to keep something quiet they can even if it involves the silence of thousands of personnel.

So what happened to Aer Lingus flight EI712 that Sunday in March 1968 we may never know but despite the attempts by both British and Irish governments to shut down debate on the issue the jury is still out on military involvement in the tragedy?

The Inspector at the original enquiry (RW Sullivan) concluded:

“There is evidence which could be construed as indicative of the possible presence of another aircraft or airborne object in the vicinity which, by reason of collision, or by its proximity causing an evasive manoeuvre to be made, or by its wake turbulence, might have been the initiating cause of an upsetting manoeuvre resulting in the Viscount entering a spin or spiral dive. There is no
substantiating evidence of such a possibility, but it cannot be excluded for it is compatible with all of the presently available evidence.”

Despite attempts to rubbish his findings since they still remain valid.

Reports on the crash (including the original 1970 report) can be found here:


(Go to the last page).

Related items on Celtic News here:


(Or you can type Aer Lingus into the CL news search box to get all the reports).

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


for comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

General Secretary, Celtic League:


The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council
Officer to respond to your query.


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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