British military requests secrecy for Irish operations

It has been learned that the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sought to block a ruling ordering it to release information about its ongoing operations in the Six Counties.

British Army chiefs originally refused to hand over information requested by the Committee on the Administration of Justice under the Freedom of Information act, claiming it is exempt.

The CAJ last year asked for the terms of reference for 'Operation Helvetic', the codename for the British Army's continuing occupation in the North.

British military officials claimed some of the information should be legally withheld as "state intelligence" and "national security".

In a recent decision, Britain's Information Commissioner's Office said while some of the information on Operation Helvetic is exempt, other information relating to it should be released.

British Army units are increasingly active in the North, carrying out searches, dealing with bomb alerts, and flying reconnaissance missions by helicopter and spotter plane. Ongoing recruitment efforts include controversial promotional activities at secondary schools, including some in nationalist areas.

It is believed eight thousand British soldiers are currently stationed on Irish soil, with many more MoD employees working in support roles.