€3m spent on deploying Irish troops to Afghanistan

 

THE DEFENCE Forces have spent €3 million on deploying personnel to the Nato-led force in Afghanistan, the Department of Defence has revealed.

The expenditure does not include the salaries of the 130 personnel deployed to date, which when included would bring total expenditure to at least €6 million.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD, who is opposed to the war in Afghanistan and has raised the issue in the Dáil, said it was unacceptable that the Government was spending millions deploying troops to Afghanistan at a time of “savage cuts” on vulnerable sectors of Irish society.

“That money is needed elsewhere,” he said.

“It should not be used to send Irish troops to support and participate in a futile and bloody colonial war. It sullies our proud tradition of neutrality.”

Mr Boyd Barrett said the only reason why Irish troops had been sent to Afghanistan was because the Government felt the need to “kowtow” to the Americans.

The inability to challenge the Americans and refuse their requests for help was also the reason why the Government had not taken a stronger line in ensuring US aircraft passing through Shannon were not involved in extraordinary rendition, Mr Boyd Barrett said.

Minister for Defence Alan Shatter will shortly bring a proposal to Government seeking an extension of the Irish troops’ presence in Afghanistan after their mandate expires next month. This would enable them to stay on for another 12 months.

Usually the deployment of Irish troops abroad only occurs on the basis of the triple-lock mechanism, meaning the mission must be sanctioned by the United Nations and then approved by both Cabinet and the Dáil.

However, the deployment of a small number of troops, like the group of seven currently in Afghanistan, does not require Dáil approval. It means the Government can deploy a small number of troops to any UN-sanctioned mission without Dáil approval.