April 5, 2024
Withdrawal of Defence Forces from Golan Heights UN mission disappointing legacy of FF/FG failures – Matt Carthy TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has said that the withdrawal of Irish Defence Forces personnel from the UNDOF mission to the Golan Heights is deeply regrettable and represents a disappointing legacy of the failures of successive governments.

The return of the 133 soldiers ends over a decade of Irish participation in the UN peacekeeping mission which saw over 2,700 Irish personnel deployed to the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Teachta Carthy said:

“I want to welcome home our Defence Forces returning this week from overseas missions and to commend all of the men and women who have served Ireland with distinction.

“It is deeply regrettable that the government has now withdrawn Irish troops from an important UN Peacekeeping mission in the Golan Heights. This withdrawal has happened at a time when a commitment to peace in that region is more important than ever. 

“It is beyond ironic that this withdrawal from an important UN Peacekeeping mission occurs at a time when the Tánaiste is attempting to remove the triple lock neutrality protection so as to allow the government to send troops to, as yet unspecified, overseas missions without a UN mandate.

“It also occurs against a backdrop of a worsening recruitment and retention crisis within the Defence Forces. More personnel have left the Defence Forces than joined every year since this government came to office. 

“There are just 7,504 members currently in the Defence Forces, far below the establishment figure of 9,600 and a world away from the recommended 11,500 members. The government is also failing to provide the capital funding necessitated by the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces to the tune of €70 million per year.

“This has real impacts as seen with the withdrawal from the UN Golan Heights Peacekeeping mission. It also means that our Defence Forces are unable to adequately monitor, never mind protect, our seas and skies or defend Ireland from modern threats.

“The legacy of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in government is a weakened Defence Forces and the squandering of the opportunity presented by the Commission on the Defence Forces.

“That legacy is crystallised by the Irish of the Defence Forces from a critical peacekeeping mission.

“It’s time for a government that will rebuild our Defence Forces, protect Irish neutrality and ensure that Ireland plays a positive and constructive role in the world. It’s time for change.”

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