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Mali attack not to affect Irish troop deployment – Coveney

Islamist terror attack in capital leaves 29 dead as Mali special forces storm hotel

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney: Incident should not interfere with decision-making process and risk assessment that we have to do sending troops abroad

The terrorist attack at a hotel in the capital of Mali that left 29 people dead would not significantly influence the Government’s decision on whether Irish troops would be sent there, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has said.

The security situation would be assessed in a “calm and reasonable way” rather than in a “knee-jerk” manner, he said.

“What happened in Mali today was a tragedy,” Mr Coveney told The Irish Times last night, commenting on the attack on the hotel in which he stayed earlier this year.

“But it shouldn’t interfere with the decision-making process and the risk assessment process that we have to do before we would send troops to any mission.

Peacekeeping decision

“This decision to send people abroad on a peacekeeping mission is being assessed by some in the media as if it’s the first time we’ve ever gone abroad; as if we are going to war against Isis.

“People need to calm down a little bit on this issue and actually give me, the military advisers and the Department of Defence some time to assess options and to have a sensible conversation with France in terms of how we can be helpful within the perimeters we can operate in.”

A nine-hour hostage situation at the hotel in Mali’s capital on Friday ended when special forces stormed the building.

Radisson siege

Islamist militants with guns and grenades took about 170 people hostage at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in the morning.

As events in Mali unfolded, EU justice ministers were meeting in Brussels to agree a suite of measures to step up security in the wake of the Paris attacks last weekend.

However, they stopped short of creating an EU-wide intelligence agency.

Ministers agreed to speed up the adoption of passenger name record legislation by the end of the year. This will facilitate greater pooling of information on air travellers and ensure closer checks of EU citizens re-entering the EU through its external borders.

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