Friday 19 April 2019

The truth is out there? Irish UFO spotters hoping return of 'X-Files' revives interest

Cast members Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny pose at a premiere for
Cast members Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny pose at a premiere for "The X-Files" at California Science Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Reuters

Jane O'Faherty

While Ireland might be well known for leprechauns, another variety of little green men have also captured the imagination of many across the country.

A cloudy and rainy island on the edge of Europe may not seem like the best place for flying saucers, but UFO spotters (or Ufologists) believe Ireland has not been exempt from encounters with beings from other planets.

And believers hope the return of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in a brand new season of 'The X-Files' could rekindle interest in visiting spacecraft.

Yvonne McConnell, a member of the Northern Ireland UFO Society, said she hopes the return of the iconic American series will draw more attention to otherworldly phenomena.

"You had Mulder and Scully, and the amount of coverage it got was huge," she said.

"We think anything that brings people into it and creates awareness is great.

"We are very serious about Ufology, but we are hoping 'The X-Files' gets more people in to it - or even gets them looking up at the sky," she said.

She told the Irish Independent that the society has been holding UFO-watching tours, but is now trying to get a database to collate all sighting reports in once place.

"There's no cross-referencing of data - so, in that case, it's very hard to place anything that's reported," she added.

"It should be treated like all investigations - and this is an investigation."

While Yvonne acknowledges that sightings have been scarce recently, numerous reports of close encounters exist online.

In 1997, UK newspaper 'The People' reported that a group of British SAS troops allegedly met some extra terrestrials while on an assignment in south Armagh some years earlier.

The soldiers were planning to ambush IRA gunmen on a hillside at night, but their mission was said to be thwarted by "up to four small grey figures" who appeared in front of them.

The article says the figures approached the undercover soldiers on a hillside in 1993, stood facing them for one minute, and then disappeared.

In 2008, a senior garda said he filmed unusual light formations in the sky above Dunboyne, Co Meath.

Meanwhile, received nine reports of sightings in Ireland in 2014. According to the international website's statistics, 2009 and 2010 were the biggest years for sightings, with 40 and 70 reports respectively.

However, the UK's National Archive, which stores some correspondence of UFO activity in the UK, notes a similar spike in British sightings in 2009 could have been due to a Chinese lantern fad at the time.

It comes as the UK's Ministry of Defence said it planned to release confidential UFO files by March this year.

Meanwhile, the German government was ordered by a court to release its files on extra-terrestrial incidents last year.

In Ireland, however, the Department of Defence said it did not maintain a file on UFO sightings and has not done so since 1984.

Just five Freedom of Information requests have been sent to the department on the topic, but all have been refused. The reason given for all five refusals was that "records do not exist".

Meanwhile, the Irish Aviation Authority stated it had never received any reports relating to unidentified objects spotted in Irish airspace.

'The X-Files' begins on RTÉ 2 at 9.55pm tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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