Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has called on Minister Simon Coveney to clarify whether Irish troops stationed in Mali as part of an EU military force have had any role in the training of military forces responsible for last week’s coup.
“The EU has admitted that its forces have provided training for some of the leading figures for the coup d’état which has resulted in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mali and the imprisonment of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
“The EU has been forced to suspend its training missions in Mali because of revelations that EU troops provided training for the leaders of the coup; some of whom had previously been taken to Europe to receive further military training.
“Approximately 600 EU troops, including members of the Irish Army Ranger Wing, have been providing the Mali military with training.
“Notwithstanding the comments of EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell, who claims that ‘[they] don’t train armies to be putschists’, the Mali military have been responsible for a litany of human rights abuses which continue to exacerbate the ongoing conflict in the Sahel region.
“From the outset, Sinn Féin has opposed the participation of Irish troops in the EU mission to Mali, which we argue constitutes a breach of Irish neutrality. Irish Defence Forces personnel were first deployed to Mali in 2013 as part of the EU training Mission (EUTM Mali) and at the time the government were able to avoid seeking Dáil approval for the deployment due to the small numbers involved.
“While we cannot say at this time if any of the military figures involved in the coup were trained by Irish forces, I am calling on Minister Simon Coveney to clarify if this has been the case without delay.”