Irish and British join forces in Mali mission
In a hugely symbolic development, Irish and British troops will form a joint contingent in an EU training mission in war-torn Mali. It will be drawn from the Irish Army and the first battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment.
The mission still has to be approved by Government but it will not require Dáil approval as fewer than 12 Irish personnel will be involved.
Anything over that number would requires the approval of the Oireachtas, the Government and the United Nations.
It is expected that eight of the 24-person joint team will be from the Irish Army. The majority will come from the Royal Irish Regiment, mostly composed of personnel recruited from both sides of the Border.
The development was announced yesterday by Minister for Defence Alan Shatter, who said that while Irish and British personnel had worked together in different theatres and operations over many years, this would be the first time a joint contingent had been deployed.
“I believe that the provision of a joint UK-Ireland contingent is another step in the normalisation of relations between our two countries,” Mr Shatter said. “In that sense it is a historic step and provides a tangible manifestation of the very positive relationship and the mutual respect that now exists between our countries.”
The EU training mission, provided for in the UN Security Council Resolution 2071, will be responsible for providing the Malian armed forces with military training and advice to improve their capacity to maintain security in Mali and restore government authority.
“Alongside standard infantry training, training will also be provided in international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and human rights,” the Minister added.
He said he had been following the issue very closely with Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore and they had been strongly supportive of the Mali mission from the outset.
About 200 military training personnel will be deployed as part of the EU mission. Four infantry training teams each comprising 24 military trainers will form part of the mission. France will provide two teams, another will be drawn from the Nordic countries and the fourth will be the Ireland- Britain team.