Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has said that it is disappointing that government refuse to reconsider the decision to withdraw the Irish Defence Forces from the UN Peace Keeping mission in the Golan Heights.
He described the move as “deeply regrettable” and said it was made due to capacity issues that have arisen due to the failure of successive governments to address the retention and recruitment crises in the Defence Forces.
Teachta Carthy was speaking after Dáil questions with the Minister for Defence, Tánaiste Micheál Martin, on Tuesday evening when it was confirmed that most of the remaining 134 Defence Forces personnel in the mission would be withdrawn in April, in order to prioritise participation in a German led EU Battlegroup.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Irish people are rightly proud of the contribution our Defence Forces personnel have made to peacekeeping missions around the world. At present, our thoughts and best wishes are with those currently deployed with UNDOF and UNIFIL missions to Lebanon and the Golan Heights, who are operating in an increasingly strained situation.
“The decision to withdraw from the UNDOF Peace-keeping mission in the Golan Heights is deeply regrettable. It should be reconsidered.
“That this move to withdraw from an important peace-keeping mission, for which our Defence Forces have deservedly earned international praise, coincides with government attempts to remove the Triple-Lock neutrality protection is particularly galling.
“It is not the Russians or any other member of the UN Security Council that will prevent the Irish Defence Forces ongoing participation in this important peace-keeping mission – it is Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
“Over the past decade, more than 2,700 Irish personnel have served with distinction on a UN mission that is today more crucial than ever.
“The Tánaiste’s positions on neutrality, peacekeeping and international security policy are becoming increasingly contradictory and out of step with long-standing Irish foreign policy.
“I call on government once again to reconsider this withdrawal.”