Ireland has 38 accredited military attaches but just two in State

Neutrality is about ability to take sides ‘without being tied down to military alliances’

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney: “we must take sides at different times, on different issues and in different conflicts”

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney: “we must take sides at different times, on different issues and in different conflicts”

 

Thirty-eight defence attaches are accredited to Ireland but just two are based in the State, according to Minister for Defence Simon Coveney.

He told Independent Socialist TD Clare Daly that the Russian Federation and United States defence attaches were located in the State, while the remaining 36 are based in the UK.

During defence questions in the Dáil, Ms Daly said the US attache “has stated that he is in daily contact with the Defence Forces and considers himself to be the person who can advise the United States government on how to speak to the Irish Government on defence issues and mutual security”.

She said she was concerned when the US attache spoke about personnel on peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan working with US forces.

“On the basis that we are not supposed to take sides or give favours, are we in daily contact with the Russian defence attache?” she asked.

The Minister said Ms Daly argued on the one hand Ireland should not take sides yet asked the Government to impose embargoes.

“We must take sides at different times, on different issues and in different conflicts. Neutrality is all about the ability to take sides without being tied down to military alliances,” Mr Coveney said.

The Minister said the contact with the attaches was on a range of issues and there had been a number of “collective briefings” in recent years covering the Government’s White Paper on Defence and peacekeeping missions the Defence Forces are involved in.