British did gas POWs in Long Kesh
30 years on and the truth finally comes out

A former republican prisoner has vowed to fight for justice for his dead comrades after a new freedom of information act – which came into effect on January 1 – revealed that the chemical CR Gas was employed by the British Army against republican prisoners in Long Kesh 30 years ago.

The dramatic breakthrough proves the British did inflict poison gas on both sentenced and interned prisoners after they burned the notorious Cages in protest at conditions in October 1974.

Over 50 former prisoners have either died prematurely through cancer or have been diagnosed with the disease possibly as a result of the choking poison that the British Army rained down on over 800 men.

As revealed by the Andersonstown News in several articles over the past five years, prisoners including internees, both republican and loyalists, as well as the British armed forces deploying the weapons, were exposed to their deadly toxins.

It will vindicate former POWs who have been fighting for several years for the British government to admit that they used CR Gas and it will severely embarrass the British government who denied the sinister attack ever took place.

Former POW Kevin Carson said it showed how the British engaged in chemical warfare against “defenceless” prisoners in Long Kesh and said it was particularly poignant that the news should break on the week of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz where tens of thousands of men, women and children were gassed by the Nazis.

In 1998 John Spellar, minister for the British armed forces, in a written answer to Labour MP Ken Livingstone denied that CR Gas had ever been used ‘operationally’.

Some time later former shadow Secretary of State for the North Kevin McNamara asked the same minister what quantity of CR gas was used on October 16 1974. Again Spellar denied it was used by significantly saying that “some 200 hand held spray devices containing 0.05 per cent CR were held at HM Prison Maze at the time”.

But now the secret go-ahead to use the chemical weapons has been revealed in papers from 1976 that show that the use of CR or Dibenzoxazepine – 10 times more powerful than tear gas – was allowed from 1973 to be released onto Long Kesh.

Documents show that the authorisation was so sensitive that officials involved in organisation training with the chemical were told: “All concerned should be told of the consequences of idle talk”.

Kevin Carson described how the CR Gas fell on the prisoners, describing the attack as “hell on earth”.

“These prisoners compared to any random group suffered a high percentage of premature deaths as a result of internal cancers,” he said.

“The gas affected your sinuses and throat. That continued down the nose and throat with mucus.

“It was like you were drowning in your own mucus and your eyes filled up with water. The gas filled the whole football pitch in the jail in a dense fog.

“The bombs fragmented into smaller bomblets of gas leaving the dense effect on the ground.

“The result has been agonising diseases suffered by Irishmen at the behest of the British,” he said.

Journalist:: Andrea McKernon

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