Ireland and UK agree historic defence agreement
Irish Army to train British soldiers in peacekeeping as part of deepening co-operation
Irish peacekeepers on patrol in Lebanon. The British army does not have experience in such operations. Photograph: Defence Forces Military Archives
A historic agreement on defence co-operation between Ireland and the UK will be signed by senior Ministers from the two countries later this month.
The agreement will involve the Irish Army training British soldiers in peacekeeping operations as part of a wide-ranging deal involving closer co-operation between the two defence forces.
Another aspect of the agreement provides that the Irish Army will be provided, free of charge, with equipment that is surplus to the requirements of the British army.
Officials in Dublin and London have been working on the details of the agreement for more than a year and there has been close contact between senior officers of both defence forces about the kind of co-operation that would be mutually beneficial.
Co-operation between the two defence forces up to now has been on an ad-hoc basis but the memorandum will put it on a formal footing and will provide for greater co-operation in the future.
Joint deploymentAlan ShatterMali
Mr Shatter described the initiative as historic, saying it was yet another indication of the normalisation of relations between Ireland and the UK. “In that sense it is a historic step and provides a tangible manifestation of the very positive relations and mutual respect that now exists between our two countries.”
At the time it was speculated that the Mali operation would lead to further co-operation between Irish and British forces on UN-mandated missions.
While the British army is one of the best equipped and most experienced in the world in combat operations, it does not have the Irish Army’s experience in peacekeeping. One of the motivating factors behind the agreement is to provide the British with access to the peacekeeping expertise of the Irish defence forces.