NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
The Celtic League has written to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin (DOFA) enclosing correspondence recently received from the British Ministry of Defence about the use of CR gas in the North of Ireland.
The League has been pursuing enquiries for several years about its use to quell a prison disturbances and other civil use and also the still unresolved issue of the disposal of stocks held by security forces in the North.
The MOD said in 2010 that there were no more documents on the period but the League became aware there was a closed file in the National Archive. The MOD say a decision on whether to open the file will not take place until 2019 and the Celtic League have urged the Irish government to use their good offices to try and have this decision reviewed.
The new MOD correspondence also reveals that an additional open file is available and the League has suggested to DOFA that they may wish to seek this.
A copy of our correspondence is set out below:
Private Secretary to the Minister
Department of Foreign Affairs
80 St Stephen’s Green
7th July 2015
Dear Mr O’Driscoll,
You responded to our letter concerning the use of CR gas in the North in February 2015 and asked to be kept up to date with enquiries we have been pursuing with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence on this matter via correspondence sent in December 2014.
The Ministry of Defence have finally responded, following several reminders, and apologised for the delay.
I enclose a copy of the correspondence in it they confirm the so called ‘Operation Pagoda’ file, DEFE 24/1203, does exist in the UK National Archive but say it is closed with a review date of 2019. They also confirm that they have indentified another file, which is available, DEFE 13/1379.
I would hope that the Minister will actively pursue both the early release of DEFE 24/1203 and also seek a copy of the file which is currently available.
I hope the Irish government through the Department will impress upon their United Kingdom counterparts of the need for openness on legacy issues such as this.
I recently corresponded with An Taoiseach concerning files which the Irish authorities had on an unrelated issue in the North (The Kingsmill Killings) and his Office indicated that although there had been difficulties over the release of information the Irish government had found a way through the impasse. I feel the United Kingdom could be usefully reminded that openness about these sensitive issues is a two way process.
In the Celtic Leagues view a resolution over the issue of the use of CR gas in the north is important from two very different perspectives.
1) The still unresolved issue of its use to quell prison disturbances and other uses against civilians and the attendant health risks this may have caused.
2) The question of its disposal as no record of its removal from the north was ever found and the only facility suitable for undertaking its disposal (Nanekuke in Cornwall), if my memory serves me correctly would have been closed. The dumping of this sort of material in landfill is problematic (to say the least!) and the Irish government will be well aware that the utilising of sites for disposal of toxic agents during this period was not constrained by ‘the border’. I think it is important the UK make some effort to account for the disposal issue.
You will be aware from earlier correspondence that the United Kingdom had indicated to us in 2010 that they had no further information on CR gas and some may see the sudden materialisation of more files at the National Archive as somewhat Machiavellian.
However I tend to think the reason is more prosaic and possibly the loss (and rediscovery) of the documents is more down to bureaucracy then any attempt at deception.
Either way, now the documents existence is indentified I trust you will seek their full disclosure
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Related links here;
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.
The Celtic League was established in 1961and 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