News that Irish troops are to join European ‘battle groups’ in international conflict arenas has been met with grave concern by Irish progressives.
26-County Defence Minister Willie O’Dea has signalled that units of 1,500 combat soldiers are to be readied for battle within two weeks notice.
Incredibly, Mr O’Dea said his decision to open discussions with potential European Union allies on taking part in the battle groups would not affect Irish neutrality.
“Our participation is fully in accordance with our traditional support for the UN. Deployment of our troops in individual peace support operations will be decided by our own national decision-making process, on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
In a speech at McKee barracks in Dublin, Mr O’Dea said that any EU battle group mission involving Irish troops would have to be approved by the UN, the Government and the Dail.
“These units very clearly do not constitute a European Army in any shape or form,” he declared.
Roger Cole, chairperson of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (Pana), slammed Minister O’Dea’s announcement.
“The reason why the EU battlegroups are called battlegroups is because they are designed not for UN peacekeeping but for war, for battle, by the EU,” Mr Cole said.
“The government has already ensured that Irish neutrality has been totally destroyed by allowing nearly 400,000 US troops to use Shannon on their way to the Iraq war and this decision means that, in the future, Irish troops are going to be directly engaged in Imperial wars.
“The EU military policy is already one of supporting preemptive war without a UN mandate... and since the battlegroups are designed to work together, it would mean none of them could operate.
“Since the government already supports an imperialist war in Iraq, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of this right-wing FF/PD government doing anything other than supporting the battlegroups going to war.”
Sinn Féin International Affairs spokesperson Aengus O Snodaigh TD said Minister O’Dea had “stuck two fingers up to the Irish people and to all who value Irish neutrality.”
He said, “In making his decision to give the go ahead for Irish troops to participate in EU battle groups Minister O’Dea has just stuck two fingers up to the Irish people and to all who value Irish neutrality.”