Gun-fire greets cruise passengers
by Linda McGrory
CRUISE ship passengers on a recent visit to
Greencastle had to endure the 'threatening' sound of
gun-fire volleys from a military firing range where
British troops train for combat in Afghanistan.
The incident happened as the 'Princess Daphne',
carrying 550 passengers and crew, dropped anchor at
the mouth of Lough Foyle, a short, cross-border
channel between Greencastle and Magilligan Point, Co
James McLaughlin, who lives near Greencastle
harbour, said the noise of gun-fire from the
Magilligan Point firing range was 'deafening' as
passengers were taken ashore at Greencastle, for day
excursions throughout the region, on September 3.
“If I were on a cruise liner anchored off the coast
of Israel or Gaza and I heard similar sounds, I
would be very reluctant to go ashore,” said Mr
The local man said that, in the interests of
tourism, the British Army should be asked to refrain
from target practise when cruise ships are anchored
in Lough Foyle.
Princess Daphne leaving Greencastle.
A Ministry of Defence
(MoD) spokesperson said Magilligan had a
"fully-operational firing range" and that live
rounds were used in target practise by troops
training for “rest of world operations”, namely,
combat in Afghanistan. He said every effort was made
to limit disruption to the general population..
"There isn't firing practise every single day and
training times vary from week to week," said the
He said the firing range was operated “within the
strictest of safety protocols” while the Army also
had personnel assigned to monitoring safety on the
beach and offshore, during target practise.
Red flags are raised at the military camp to alert
the public to day-time target practise while hazard
lights are used at night.
The spokesperson said the MoD was amenable to any
approach expressing concern about activities at the
base. Anyone with a complaint, including local
cruise organisers, could make their case through the
MoD’s NI civil rep.
“We would consider any approach made, on its own
merits. We endeavour to cause as little disruption
as possible to the general populace,” said the
The Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau which is
involved in a multi-agency drive to promote a cruise
tourism industry for the region, declined to comment
on the issue.
However, SDLP MLA John Dallat, said he would
continue his push for the closure of Magilligan
military base saying its presence conflicted with
attempts to promote the region as a tourism
“This is a tourism area, on both sides of the
border, with huge development potential. The
presence of troops training for war does not sit
comfortably with that kind of environment.
“Both the Government in Dublin and the Northern
Ireland Assembly should talk to each other with a
view to persuading the British Army to take all
their trappings of war back to England,” said Mr
Dallat. He said the Magilligan base was surplus to
requirements because the MoD already had a firing
range at Ballykinler in Co Down.