Majority back French request for security aid

Seventy per cent of Labour voters support security action to assist France

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government was prepared to send additional Irish troops to Mali to relieve French soldiers who may be sent to fight Islamic State. Photograph: Eric Vidal/Reuters

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government was prepared to send additional Irish troops to Mali to relieve French soldiers who may be sent to fight Islamic State. Photograph: Eric Vidal/Reuters

 

A majority of Irish voters believe the Government should respond positively to the request by France for security assistance after the Paris attacks, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

Asked whether or not Ireland should respond to the request by France made under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, 64 per cent of people said we should and 36 per cent said we should not.

There was a relatively uniform response from supporters of the different political parties in spite wide of differences in the past in European Union referendums and on the issue of neutrality.

Labour voters were the strongest in support of action to help France with 70 per cent of them backing it.

Fianna Fáil supporters were close behind with 68 per cent in support while 67 per cent of Fine Gael voters and 63 per cent of Independents/ Others backed the move.

Sinn Féin voters were a little less enthusiastic about providing security aid to France but a solid 59 per cent of them backed it.

Reflecting the relatively uniform party support there were no significant difference across the social classes in response to the question, although the poorest category, DE, being the least enthusiastic.

Neither were there wide variations across the different age groups or regions.

Unsurprisingly, women were less supportive than men but not by a huge margin.

The survey was undertaken on Monday and Tuesday of last week among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies.

The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent.

In the wake of the Paris attacks French government invoked the mutual defence clause in the Lisbon Treaty allowing it to seek military assistance from other EU member states.

In response Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government was prepared to send additional Irish troops to Mali in order to relieve French soldiers who may be sent to fight Islamic State.

Mr Kenny said no formal request had come from France to the Government requesting aid but he pointed out that a small number of Irish troops were already in Mali.

“We have said that, within our conditions and our circumstances we will assist in whatever way we can here, though probably the numbers will be small,” said Mr Kenny.

“It’s a matter for every country as to their own national security and defence position, how they might assist in that regard. We have been working with the French in Mali, 10 members of the Defence Forces out there doing particular duties.

“Now, a formal request has not come in from France yet. It may come through the Minister for Defence; it may be dealing with extra personnel that the French may withdraw from south Lebanon or Mali or whatever.

“The point the French make is that the French president has declared that France is at war in respect of these incidents in Syria.

“The French defence forces are stretched in quite a number of countries and they may make a request for assistance in that regard.”