NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
As the Celtic League met to condemn Military Pact what appears to be unilateral counter-insurgency exercise is conducted by British Army in border area
It was hardly the ‘brave new dawn’ in British-Irish military relations that UK and Irish Defence Minister Michael Fallon MP and Simon Coveney TD may have anticipated when, all smiles, they signed the infamous British-Irish Military Pact in January this years.
However as members of the Celtic League were meeting for their AGM in Dublin on Saturday (11th April) to roundly condemn the Pact news was starting to filter through about a unilateral British military exercise which had taken place a few days previously in the skies over South Down and Warrenpoint.
Members of the socialist republican group, éirígí, observed and photographed a single RAF Hercules transport aircraft maneuvering in the area. The group has speculated that the aircraft may have been connected to an exercise being conducted by British Army Special Forces and this is a reasonable conjecture given that some years ago a similar exercise took place involving SAS troops in the mountainous area over the S W of Mann (Isle of Man).
From the photographs it would seem the aircraft is circling over the Warrenpoint area and if this is the case it may well have transgressed over the International boundary in that area which is just a matter of a few hundred yards into the upper reaches of Carlingford Lough.
Carlingford Lough was the centre tension between British and Irish Forces many years ago in the early days of the ‘troubles’. The British, alleging sniper fire, from the 26 county side of the Lough returned heavy machine fire into the country area near Omeath setting fire to disused farm buildings. Subsequently units of the Irish Army were deployed in the area and the Irish Naval Service (INS) vessel Fola was also stationed on the Lough for several weeks.
Later the Lough was again the centre of tension when members of the SBS (the seaborne equivalent of the SAS) persistently transgressed the International boundary between the twenty-six and six counties. Once again vessels of the INS had to be deployed periodically to counter this, often aggressive behaviour, by British Marines.
Many naively thought that with the signing of the British-Irish Peace agreement the British would move to de-militarize in the North however the term eventually used by the British was that they would ‘normalise’ the military presence.
However an exercise by British Special Forces especially if it did transgress the current International boundary is hardly ‘normalisation’.
Additionally such unilateral exercises by what are essentially forces trained for counter-insurgency hardly fit in with Messrs Fallon and Coveney’s ‘happy scenario’ of ‘joint peace-keeping’.
They say ‘a leopard will never change its spots’. In respect of the British Army in the North that definitely holds true!
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)
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