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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 27 Jan 1972

Vol. 258 No. 5

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - British Army Action.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has ordered an investigation into the alleged aggressive action by the British Army near Clones on Sunday last; if representations have been made to the British Government for a similar inquiry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether any representations have been made to the British authorities following the firing of CS gas on the Monaghan-Fermanagh border; and if he has received any Garda or military report on the incident.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs what protest has been made by the Government to the British Government about the indiscriminate and unwarranted firing of CS gas and rubber bullets into the territory of the Republic near Clones. County Monaghan, on Sunday, 23rd January, 1972.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether any list of cratered Border roads is available; the number of such roads; whether the Taoiseach indicated in his recent meeting with Mr. Heath the grave risk of incidents arising which would involve British and Irish military personnel; and whether as a result of the meeting any possibility exists of the British reversing their road cratering policy.

With your permission, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 to 12 together.

Since the Taoiseach's initial protest announced on 13th October, 1971, about the cratering of Border roads every opportunity has been taken— most recently on Sunday last at the meeting with Mr. Heath in Brussels— to reaffirm our position.

With regard to the case in point it appears from reports of our security forces that British troops fired CS gas canisters and rubber bullets across the border into County Monaghan. Representations have been made to the British authorities in the matter.

It is not possible for us to say how many Border roads are cratered at any particular time as the cratering is, of course, on the other side of the Border and such roads are constantly being repaired by the local people.

Has any reply been received to the protest about this incident last Sunday?

Not yet, as far as I know.

In reference to that part of the question dealing with cratered roads, surely there is now some rough estimate in the Government's hands of the number of roads cratered in the Border area either from contact with local people, or otherwise? Is the Government not aware of even the approximate number of roads cratered?

As I have indicated, it is impossible to give a figure at any one time because the position is changing. The craters are being filled in fairly rapidly.

Could the Minister say if there have been any further incidents since the last protest was made?

Incidents of a similar nature?

As far as I know, the answer is in the negative.

Nothing happened today?

Not a similar kind of incident, I think.

But there was an incident?

There was.

A most serious incident.

To whom were the protests made? To the Stormont or Westminster Governments, or both?

To the British.

I did not hear this part of the Minister's reply: did we indicate to the British authorities the very great danger in the matter of road cratering of a confrontation between Irish and British military personnel? Obviously, this danger is present in incidents relating to the cratering of roads and was the possibility of such a confrontation impressed on the British authorities at recent meetings?

Yes, it was, at all times, and, as I have indicated, as recently as last Sunday at the meeting with Mr. Heath, this was done. Perhaps I should also say that in the case of this particular incident I think that the conduct of the British troops on that occasion can only be described as provocative and dangerous, especially in view of the fact that it would appear that some of the missiles fired by them across the Border were deliberately aimed at uniformed members of the Garda.

There were reports of gardaí and civilians suffering from CS gas. Have these reports been substantiated?

Yes, this is true.

What was the number injured?

I could not say how many were actually affected but certainly gardaí and civilians were affected by CS gas.