Tuesday, 2 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
292. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised with the British Government the overflight incursion some two miles into County Monaghan, and over the town of Clones, by a British Army helicopter on 17 October 2004; if he will report on the response he has received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26876/04]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): As the Deputy is aware, the Government regards unauthorised incursions by the British security forces into the State as a serious matter. On each reported occasion, the matter is immediately raised with the British Government. In this connection, officials met with members of the British Army’s civil policy team during the summer to discuss incursions into this jurisdiction. It was emphasised to the British side that the issue of incursions be tackled vigorously by them. The British side assured us that incursions are taken seriously by their security forces, accepted that potential dangers to both local people and security personnel exist when such incidents occur and undertook to reinforce the seriousness of these matters with British Army headquarters.
In this particular case, my officials raised this alleged incident through the office of the British-Irish inter-governmental secretariat in Belfast. In response, the British side have indicated that on 17 October, at approximately 5.30 p.m., a helicopter crossed into County Monaghan for a brief period of time. The authorities have stated that this was due to navigational error on behalf of the pilot and that once the mistake was realised the helicopter immediately returned to the North.
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