Ireland could send peacekeeping mission to Mali to replace French, says Coveney

Independent TD Clare Daly warns of strong Dáil resistance

Clare Daly TD: “The Minister’s stance has exposed the utter hypocrisy of western authorities in respect of this matter.”

Clare Daly TD: “The Minister’s stance has exposed the utter hypocrisy of western authorities in respect of this matter.”

 

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has not ruled out the Government sending a peacekeeping mission to Mali to replace French soldiers. He said France had seen more than 130 of its citizens mowed down or blown up on the streets of Paris. An Irish citizen had been seriously injured.

If France redeployed troops to protect its citizens at home and abroad, and created gaps in peacekeeping missions in different parts of the world, Ireland would look at assisting the United Nations in such circumstances, he said. “That is what Ireland does: we do peacekeeping, and we do it well.”

He said people should not try to link this with Irish neutrality, adding that Ireland would look to be of assistance from “a UN perspective and from a good neighbour perspective, if you like” to France.

Independent TD Clare Daly insisted there was a link and said such a move by the Government would be strenuously resisted in the Dáil. “The Minister’s stance has exposed the utter hypocrisy of western authorities in respect of this matter.”

Ms Daly claimed exactly contradictory remarks were made when Russia engaged “in the same reprehensible actions” by bombing Syria in response to attacks on Russia. “The West said Russia should not be doing that because it was endangering its citizens. That was correct for Russia but it is also correct for France.”

Ms Daly said the completely innocent French people slaughtered were the victims of their government’s foreign policy. She said much of the role of the French authorities in Mali, a former French colony, stemmed from a desire to keep control over uranium, gas and oil supplies.

“That is really what is at risk there. The idea that we would be involved in some post-colonial effort is reprehensible.” She claimed the Government and its predecessor had “an incredibly fluid” interpretation of what it meant to be a neutral country.

She said while France was spread across many multiple peacekeeping operations, it was also the case that its president had announced the country was going to war.

Mr Coveney said article 42.7 of the EU treaty was not a mutual defence clause but a mutual assistance clause. “In other words, for a country like Ireland we have an obligation to look at how we can be of assistance. But we do not have an obligation to do anything that in any way undermines or contradicts our own policy on defence, which is one of neutrality.

“Therefore this idea that we are somehow compromising neutrality is just not true and we are not being asked to do it either by France or by anybody else.”

He said Ireland would do what it could, within the confines of what it could do, in response to the extraordinary and tragic attacks on the streets of Paris.

Earlier, Mr Coveney said an attack on Ireland, following the Paris killings, was “possible but not likely”.