Ireland’s X Files: Records reveal Government confusion over UFOs

‘Ah here, you can’t push that one on to us! You know exactly how much involvement we have in space’

“Good morning. I am sending you this to highlight an issue I believe to be quite possibly the biggest news in the history of the planet and, indeed the human race,” read an email received by the Department of the Taoiseach in June 2021.

The writer went on to detail the “recent announcement by the US Government that Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) are real”, a reference to the release of strange footage by the US military showing unexplained objects in the sky.

Over the years, Ireland has also had sightings of UFOs, or Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs) to give them their more modern title.

“What are the national security implications of this,” the correspondent asked. “Surely this matter deserves more publicity?”


The civil servants in the Department of the Taoiseach didn’t seem to agree. In fact, their first response was to try to have another department deal with the matter.

The email was forwarded to the Department of Defence which responded that it was a matter more suited to the Irish Aviation Authority. It was then sent to the aviation services division in the Department of Transport which said it should go back to Defence as it concerns security.

The writer is one of many people who have contacted the government in recent years about UAPs, according to documents released following a Freedom of Information request. Some people write to urge the Government to invest in research into alien technology while others report their own mysterious sightings.

The reaction from civil servants is typically one of polite bemusement before either trying to foist the matter on to another section or sending the writer a pro forma response saying their concerns have been noted.

“First of all why was it assigned to our Division — looks more like an [aviation services division] matter to me,” a seemingly frustrated Department of Transport official wrote to a colleague in response to a 2019 email.

“Secondly, I do not recommend any action to be taken in relation to this correspondence — whomever it ends up with.”

A few months later another Department of Transport official received a call from someone in Kilcock, Co Kildare who reported “mysterious lights to the South of his house from 4:00 — 4:30am for the past week.”

He forwarded it to his colleague in the air navigation services division who responded almost immediately: “Ah here, you can’t push that one on to us! You know exactly how much involvement we have in space.”

The public weren’t the only source of reports. In 2005, then TD for Sligo Leitrim John Ellis sought answers on behalf of a constituent who reported strange occurrences in Irish skies on three dates. These included a jet being “harassed” by a mystery aircraft.

The Department of Transport could find no evidence to support the reports and said it is “inconceivable that an aircraft reported being approached by an unknown airborne object from below would not be reported by the air traffic controller”.

Some of the correspondence on UAPs detail how they could be utilised for the benefit of mankind. In 2021 a veteran UFO campaigner wrote to Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan about aircraft with “exotic technology” which could provide an alternative to fossil fuels. “As a citizen of Ireland and a Green Party supporter I am formally asking you to at the very least investigate ...”

In 2019 another campaigner wrote to then minister for transport Shane Ross seeking his support for the construction of an “embassy for extraterrestrials” which would ensure that any contact with off-world civilisations “happens within an agreed diplomatic framework”.

Reports of UFOs are nothing new. In 1981, then minister for transport Albert Reynolds, in response to a parliamentary question, said there had been eight UFO reports since 1962. Some of these were examined by the gardaí, others by the Air Corps, Meteorological Office or Air Traffic Control. None could be confirmed.

“They’re often meteors burning up in the atmosphere or these Chinese lanterns which became popular a few years ago. There have been a few though which are hard to explain,” said one air traffic source.

Not all reports are related to possible extraterrestrials. In 2015, journalist Don Lavery contacted the Department of Transport about “an incident which I believe could have security, safety, and national defence implications”.

He said he saw five aircraft flying slowly over Co Wexford in an unusual formation and in complete silence. Queries with the various aviation agencies turned up nothing. Air Traffic Control and the Irish Aviation Authority could find no trace of anything airborne in the area.

Lavery suspected what he saw were classified US military helicopters of the type used in the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

“I do not believe in UFOs. And the only viable explanation for what we saw are stealth aircraft able to mask themselves from radar,” wrote Lavery.

This week, the former Irish Independent journalist told The Irish Times he has yet to get to the bottom of the incident and that the US embassy has since informed him it also had no aircraft in the area.

The truth may still be out there, however. According to the documents, the Oireachtas Committee on Public Petitions is considering a proposal to establish “Project Morrigan”, an initiate to make Ireland a world leader in the scientific study of UAPs.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times