The British Government has declassified secret files from its Ministry of Defense which have revealed a top-secret investigation into two sightings of UFOs in Ireland in 1993 and 1996.

The UFO reports are part of a three-year project to release Britain's classified UFO files.

The first sighting took place on March 31, 1993 at 0105 GMT when two objects were seen streaking across the Irish sky.

Frantic callers swamped local garda stations with panicked calls as the brightly-lit objects shot across the country.

The Irish Government is reported to have despatched jets to monitor objects but they - obviously! - could not keep up with the UFOS which were flying at about 3,000 mph.

The UFO file says they believe that people were witnessing the re-entry of a Soviet launch vehicle after it had catapulted a Cosmos 2238 satellite into space.

In the second investigation, there were four separate reports of a UFO over County Down in January 1996.

However, the official investigation said there was no UFO and that the strange light came from lasers on the top of a local hotel.

"UFO reports in Bangor, County Down, complaining of strange lights have been traced to laser lights on top of the Royal Hotel!!" the official report said.

The files are part of a huge archive from the "Flying Saucer Working Party" which was set up in 1952 by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Churchill acted after a UFO scare in America in July 1952 saw the US Air Force scramble jet interceptors over the nation's capital.

The scare prompted Churchill to send a memo to the Air Ministry saying:

"What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth? Let me have a report at your convenience."

One of the key figures in the Flying Saucer Working Party was the then Chief of Defense, Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Mountbatten, who would be killed by the IRA in County Sligo in 1979, was one of a small group of influential military officials who believed UFOs really did come from outer space.

Modern researchers did not share Mountbatten's view. They ascribed the level of UFO sightings to the popularity of the TV show The X Files and the alien blockbuster film Independence Day.

Meanwhile, the full list of declassified events can be found on the British National Archives.

Originally published 2009.