13 October 2000 Edition

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Leaked memo reveals RIR cover up

The British army will not take disciplinary action against a number of RIR soldiers who posed with a loyalist Spirit of Drumcree flag on 12 July last year.

Although the MoD say they can't confirm the identity of the soldier who brought the loyalist banner into a British army base in Armagh, they do know that it was a Warrant Officer who provided the camera used to take the photo.

And in a leaked memo, MoD chief John Spellar said that administrative action, which does not amount to disciplinary action against the Warrant Officer, was progressing through the army chain of command.

Up to 70 RIR soldiers posed with the sectarian flag yet the British MoD is refusing to act even though it admits that those involved breached British army rules governing the display of flags and emblems.

And reacting to the news Breandán MacCionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition said, ``I am not surprised that the British army would cover up what was in effect a nakedly sectarian display''.

The latest revelation that the MoD is refusing to discipline any of the British soldiers involved will further embarrass British military chiefs, who are trying to cover the incident up despite the efforts of Labour MP Kevin McNamara, who is trying to have the report made available to Westminster.

According to an internal memo, the MoD has ``responsibilities both in common law and as an employer to preserve the privacy and security of all MoD personnel past and present, to protect national security and to protect the duty of confidentiality which the department owes to others''.

The photo of a full company of RIR soldiers posing with the Spirit of Drumcree flag was first published in the Andersonstown News earlier this year and the fact that British army chiefs are doing everything they can to brush the matter under the carpet is proof that they are highly embarrassed by the disclosures.

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