British warship in Dublin today

 

A British warship will head up the River Liffey today for the first time since the establishment of the independent Irish State.

The HMS Monmouth Type 23 frigate is making a goodwill visit and will be docked, complete with its 185-strong officers and crew, in Dublin Port for four days.

The fully-computerised, 4,100-tonnes standard displacement, 133-metre-long vessel - the seventh Royal Navy warship to carry its name - circumnavigated the world in 1995.

In Dublin it will be the venue for the presentation of awards by the frigate's captain, Cmmdr Paul Lemkes, on behalf of the Gaisce Challenge Award scheme. The Chief Whip, Mr Seamus Brennan, is expected to attend the ceremony.

The arrival of HMS Monmouth signals the first of two visits to the Republic by British service personnel within a few days. On July 4th, the RAF's crack Red Arrows team will stage an aerobatics display at the Salthill air-show in Galway.

Sinn Fein has expressed outrage at the visit. Cllr Larry O'Toole said: `It is disgraceful that this visit has been allowed by the Department of Foreign Affairs. This British warship is not welcome in Dublin."

He went on: "The visit, like that of the RAF Red Arrows to Galway, is clearly part of a propaganda effort to prepare this State for membership of NATO's so-called Partnership for Peace." Mr O'Toole said the visit by the Monmouth violated Irish neutrality.

Furthermore, he said, the Salthill invitation to the RAF should be withdrawn because of "the British armed forces' long and bloody history in Ireland.

"While part of our country is still occupied by British troops, no welcome should be given to these warmongers."