Irish troops and a war in Mali

 

Sir, – Ruadhán Mac Cormaic raises important questions regarding where Irish soldiers should be sent on overseas missions (“Ireland has quietly joined a dangerous war”, Opinion & Analysis, June 15th).

We are a small neutral country with a small Army. While this is appropriate to our security and economic priorities, our neutral status and our Defence Forces’ performance on genuine UN peacekeeping missions has enabled Ireland to achieve exceptional results towards enhancing international peace, promoting sustainable development and genuine humanitarianism. In recent decades these achievements have been eroded by our Government sending Irish soldiers on inappropriate overseas missions with Nato and the European Union, and even on some inappropriate UN missions such as UNDOF on the Syrian Golan Heights, protecting illegal Israeli annexation.

We need to focus our limited peacekeeping and humanitarian resources towards those humanitarian crises of greatest need.

A neutral country should not be intervening in the civil war in Mali.

But this is not just a civil war. France has been the worst of the former colonial powers in its failure to allow its colonies to develop genuine freedom and democracy and is engaged in neo-colonial exploitation.

The Irish Defence Forces should be confined to genuine peacekeeping, and only in very exceptional circumstances should they become involved in peace enforcement.

The primary purpose of the Army Ranger Wing is internal security within Ireland. They should not be used to support French national interests towards exploiting African people. If Irish soldiers are killed on such missions, their deaths will not have been justified. – Yours, etc,

EDWARD HORGAN,

Castletroy,

Limerick.

Sir, – Ruadhán Mac Cormaic’s article on the proposed deployment of Army Rangers to Mali is welcome.

However, the implication that Ireland should not be involved in a potential combat role because it is dangerous needs to be confronted.

Risk-sharing is central to participation in peace-support missions, and our forces have shared these risks in over 60 years of peacekeeping and peace-enforcement duties. The links between several terrorist attacks in Europe and the war against al-Qaeda affiliates in Mali are well established. The war against terrorism in Europe could ultimately be won or lost in the desert sands of northern Mali.

Special forces, such as the Army Ranger Wing, have a decisive role to play. – Yours, etc,

Col DORCHA LEE,

(Retired),

Beaufort Place,

Navan,

Co Meath.

Sir, – In his article on the UN operation in Mali, Ruadhán Mac Cormaic writes: “For the first time a big UN peacekeeping mission has been tasked with helping a state retake control over territory controlled by terrorist groups”.

It may be the first time it has done this in respect of terrorist groups but it is not the first time a UN mission had the specific purpose of assisting a government to re-establish control over its territory.

That was the remit of the first large-scale mission in which Irish troops were involved – the UN mission in the Congo in the early 1960s.

Furthermore the UN forces in the Congo certainly took on an enforcement role when they forcibly ended the secession of the province of Katanga.

A number of Irish soldiers were killed in that operation. – Yours, etc,

JOHN

KILCULLEN,

Lucan,

Co Dublin.