NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
A recent article I wrote about Prince Charles visit to Ireland in which I criticized his role as Colonel in Chief of the parachute regiment seems to have caused a few ruffled feathers in Kernow. I thought therefore that for the record I should set out clearly and unequivocally that the Celtic League’s position is that we oppose the presence of the British military in the six counties of Ireland and we have done so for forty years.
We regard the British military presence in the six counties as an occupation and although ostensibly introduced into ‘the province’ as ‘peacekeepers’ to reinforce ‘the garrison’ there the role swiftly morphed into a counter-insurgency campaign which they waged ruthlessly, often killing innocent civilians for the next thirty years against the IRA, Provisional IRA and Irish National Liberation Army.
Also for the avoidance of doubt let me make it clear that the Celtic League is and always has been committed to a peaceful resolution of the struggle in Ireland and this was evidenced by our contribution in the 1980s to the ‘New Ireland Forum’, an Irish government initiative which had it borne fruit would have seen the conflict ameliorated many years earlier than it was. It was also evidenced by our support for the current Peace Process.
One of the most disrespectful comments apparently made by a Celtic League ‘follower’ (whatever that is) in Kernow was that we had no right to comment because we weren’t there? What planet do these folk live on? The Celtic League is there. It has a branch there. For a good part of its existence many of its key officials have been drawn from Irish branch or those with an association with Ireland and the six counties.
I personally spent a fair bit of time on occasion in the province in the early years of ‘the troubles’ at a time when British Army strength had reached over thirty thousand (that’s a third of the size of the entire British Army today!). The place was literally an armed camp with a substantial section of the nationalist community oppressed and harassed and many innocent civilians murdered by the ‘security forces’.
Now before anyone ‘bangs on’ about there being atrocities on both sides, we are well aware that many people died at the hands of the various republican and loyalist groups.
However, there is not some sort of ‘equivalence’ here when you compare this to deaths perpetrated by the ‘security forces’.
The clue is in the name ‘security forces’, these were people entrusted with the safety and security of the ‘six counties’ and when they killed innocent civilians they abused that trust.
Let us be clear for the record also that one of the worst offenders in this institutionalised murder was the Parachute Regiment. This was not ‘a few rotten apples’ this was a barrel of rotten apples!
The Para’s misdeeds were bettered only by the activities of those Army personnel attached to the 4th Field Troop Royal Engineers, a cover organisation with sub groups like 14th Intelligence Company which carried out ‘special operations’.
The special operations included organising loyalist gangs to conduct the Dublin and Monaghan bombings which killed 33 and injured over 300 people.
They also organised the random killings of innocent civilians, like Seamus Ludlow from Co. Louth, a forest worker slain on his way home one evening.
Some of these people, would you believe, were even given medals, such as Captain Robert Nairac!
Nairac was awarded the George Cross posthumously, he’s regarded as something of a hero by the British Army, and yet this is the man who according to a Yorkshire TV documentary Hidden Hands helped organises the Dublin and Monaghan bombings (quote):
“We have evidence from police, military and loyalist sources which confirms the links between Nairac and the Portadown loyalist paramilitaries. And also that in May 1974, he was meeting with these paramilitaries, supplying them with arms and helping them plan acts of terrorism against republican targets. In particular, the three prime Dublin suspects, Robert McConnell, Harris Boyle and the man called ‘The Jackal’ (Robin Jackson, Ulster Volunteer Force [UVF] member from Lurgan), were run before and after the Dublin bombings by Captain Nairac.”
According to the documentary, support for this allegation was said to have come from various sources:
“They include officers from RUC Special Branch, CID and Special Patrol Group; officers from the Gardaí Special Branch; and key senior loyalists who were in charge of the County Armagh paramilitaries of the day…”
In addition in 1987 British MP Ken Livingstone alleged in the House of Commons that Niarac had organised the Miami Show Band Killings in South Armagh when three of the four musicians were murdered and the other seriously injured.
Later it was established that four of the gunmen who perpetrated this massacre were serving members of the British Army (UDR).
Because of the unrelentless Celtic League support for the nationalist community in Ireland I was honoured by being asked to speak at a large rally in South Armagh in February 1999 some years after the N. Ireland Peace Process had kicked in.
Even at this late juncture the British were dragging their heels and on the morning of the rally I was given a whistle-stop tour of the labyrinth of British Army bases and fortified watch towers by my hosts, the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee.
If you had not visited this area at this time you would be unable to comprehend the oppressive nature of what I can only describe as a military occupation. Overnight at my host’s bungalow, in the shadow of the heavily fortified Foughilletra military watchtower, helicopters with bright searchlights clattered around the bungalow going to and from the base.
This family like many thousands of others had endured this for almost twenty years, things were better now my host told me ‘because they are getting ready to go’.
At the rally the following day over two thousand people gathered to hear speakers including myself. It was a bitterly cold day but the spirit was upbeat for the people of that area of South Armagh knew the game was up for the British and their Army and its paraphernalia of fortifications would soon be gone.
I was pleased to advise them that over the years some in the Celtic countries, and not least THE CELTIC LEAGUE, had felt a strong empathy with their struggle and that the support would continue for as long as it was needed.
The British Army garrison in Ireland is now much reduced and the watchtowers of South Armagh have been junked but our job as THE CELTIC LEAGUE will not be over until the military presence has ended completely!
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.)
ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.
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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