Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has said that the decision of the government to withdraw the Irish Defence Forces from a UN peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights in order to prioritise participation in a EU Battlegroup is proving to be utterly shambolic.
Speaking in response to reports that only 35 Defence Force personnel had volunteered to be part of an EU rapid-response battlegroup, Deputy Carthy said that this vindicated those who advocated that the Defence Forces are best placed participating in UN-mandated peacekeeping missions.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Irish people are rightly proud of the contribution our Defence Forces personnel have made to peacekeeping missions right 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 heightened security context.
“Sinn Féin expressed our disappointment in February when government announced that Ireland would withdraw from UNIFIL in order to prioritise taking part in an EU Battlegroup.
“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 entire approach by government is proving to be utterly shambolic. Reports suggest that only 35 defence forces personnel have volunteered to take part in the EU Battlegroup for which government has committed 174 personnel.
“It is an embarrassing rebuke of a core aspect of the Tánaiste’s defence policy – one that would see Ireland abandon our neutrality to see us further entangled in European military frameworks, and at the cost of our participation in peacekeeping.
“In the context of a retention and recruitment crisis within the Defence Forces that has worsened under this Fianna Fáil Minister, such a response from ordinary members of the Defence Forces suggests their confidence in the Tánaiste’s security policy is on the floor.”