Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Enlistment in British Forces.


asked the Minister for External Affairs if he will ascertain from the British Government if it is their policy to enlist in their forces only people who are of British nationality, or who become British nationals; and, if so, if he will make representations to the British Government that before they enlist Irish nationals they make it clear that acceptance into the British armed forces is conditional on them becoming British nationals,


asked the Minister for External Affairs if he will state Government policy in relation to Irish citizens joining the British Armed Forces; if he is aware how many of them join each year; if he is also aware that in the last few months particularly at least one Irish citizen (name supplied) of County Tipperary was harassed, after joining the Women's Royal Air Corps, to become a British citizen and eventually so intimidated that she was forced to leave the force.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 27 together.

The Government deprecate the joining by Irish citizens of foreign armed forces. However, Irish citizens who wish to join such forces cannot be prevented from doing so outside our jurisdiction.

I am informed that recruitment to the British forces is not based on nationality and, in general, anyone can join; but certain residence and/or nationality qualifications may be prescribed for particular posts.

Figures are not available as to the number of Irish citizens joining the British armed forces each year. I am not aware that any Irish citizen was harassed or intimidated as alleged. In any event, the conditions under which an Irish citizen, having voluntarily joined a foreign army, found himself or herself serving would not be a matter in which the Government would normally intervene.

The information which I conveyed to the Minister prior to tabling this question clearly shows that Irish people particularly the women in the forces have been discriminated against in the British forces in recent times, especially since the northern troubles arose. They have been treated with suspicion and distrust; they have been interrogated and they have had their leave withdrawn.

We cannot have a speech on this question. The Deputy may ask one question.

There is further evidence to indicate that attempts have been made to compel them to renounce their Irish nationality——

The Deputy cannot make a speech.

——and in those circumstances does the Minister not feel he has a responsibility to Irish citizens, whether they be in the British Army or not, to protect them and to see that they are not discriminated against?

I think I have answered the points made in the Deputy's original question. I have been informed that recruitment to the British Army is not based on nationality.

Would the Minister take up this matter with the British forces?

The Government deprecate Irish citizens joining foreign armed forces but if they do join, the conditions in which they find themselves are hardly a matter for the Government to deal with.

One of the main reasons why I raised this question in the House was to alert Irish boys and girls, who may feel like joining these forces, of the consequences.

Would the Deputy allow questins to continue?

Is the Minister aware that many Irish nationals, who are medical students in this country, are having their fees paid during the last three years of their medical course by the British Army on condition they join the army on completion of their studies for a minimum period of five years?

There is an Act of 1954 which prevents or prohibits inducement to citizens to join a foreign army but there is no penalty on the person for joining.

These students are having their fees paid and are being given pocket money as well.

I am aware of such cases but there is no penalty on the individual for joining.