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 Header Item Overseas Missions (Continued)
 Header Item Other Questions
 Header Item Defence Forces UN Missions

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter] This State has been part of NATO's Partnership for Peace for very many years. I can tell the Deputy that there is no public concern, beyond the concern in his head, and the heads of a small number of people who are still locked into Cold War politics about this State being part of NATO Partnership for Peace, together with all of the other neutrals in the European Union and being able to participate in an organised way in peacekeeping missions in different parts of the world.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I wish to make three brief points. I do not know on what planet the Minister lives but in my introductory speech I spoke about all the civilians who died in Afghanistan. We should not be selective. I am not selective but the Minister's silence on the other issues shows that he is very selective. He was particularly silent over the past couple of weeks, along with the Government and NATO people, about those innocent children being killed in the drone attacks. I did not hear him. He is particularly silent when young Palestinians are being killed every day but that is another issue. To return to the core issue, he said that Irish troops are respected because they have no political agenda. I agree with that part but my problem is that the Minister and the Government and other people in this State are trying to change that agenda. They want to destroy our independence as a peacekeeping force which is respected internationally. He is trying to change the agenda; he is bringing in the NATO agenda. That is what I will fight against. As a Member of the Oireachtas I will defend and protect the Constitution and the citizens of the State. A lot of people subscribe to this view and a lot of voices agree with me.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have absolutely no idea why the Deputy is shouting and getting so exercised nor can I figure what relevance his rather unnecessary and odd reference to Palestinian children has to this issue, unless the Deputy has something else going through his mind. Let me inform the Deputy that in the context of that issue, I have been a great deal more engaged than he. I have been engaged in talking to some of the leading negotiators on the Palestinian side. I suspect I have visited the West Bank and Gaza many more times than the Deputy has ever done. I advise the Deputy to be careful of the level of prejudice he may display in this House-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I have no prejudice. That is an outrageous remark. I will raise the issues of any oppressed peoples anywhere in the world and I have done it many times-----

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It is not a coincidence that in the context of the question about Afghanistan he diverted to other issues.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I have raised these issues because it is part of my brief. The Minister should wise up.

Other Questions

Defence Forces UN Missions

 77. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if it his intention to deepen Defence Forces' participation in any UN mission in Mali; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21299/13]

 81. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he is preparing to send members of the Defence Forces to serve in a UN peacekeeping operation in Mali; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21128/13]

 83. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an update on the current Defence Forces participation in the training mission in Mali.  [21283/13]

 87. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide a progress report on the Defence Forces mission to Mali; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21318/13]

 97. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter how long the most recently deployed personnel to Mali will be based there.  [21291/13]

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to answer Questions Nos. 77, 81, 83, 87 and 97 together.

I addressed the question of possible Defence Forces participation in the newly established United Nations multidimensional integrated stabilisation mission in Mali in my reply to a priority question.

On 17 January 2013, the Council of the European Union established the EU training mission, EUTM Mali, which was formally launched by the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 18 February 2013. Its initial mandate is to last for 15 months. The purpose of the mission is to provide military training and advice to the Malian armed forces in order to improve their capacity to maintain security in Mali and restore the authority of the Malian Government and the territorial integrity of the Malian state. Twenty-two member states are contributing over 500 troops, including 250 instructors and additional military personnel to EUTM Mali. Personnel deployed to the mission will not be involved in combat operations.

On 26 February 2013, the Government approved the deployment of approximately eight members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the EU training mission in Mali. Three officers and five non-commissioned officers were deployed to EUTM Mali on 23 March 2013 for a tour of duty of approximately five months. One officer, of lieutenant colonel rank, has been appointed camp commandant of the Koulikoro training camp, while one commandant is employed in the mission headquarters in Bamako. The remaining six personnel also deployed to Koulikoro form part of a joint infantry training team with the United Kingdom armed forces. Training for the first group of 650 Malian armed forces personnel commenced on 2 April 2013 and is progressing well.


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