Defence Ministers Responds to Irish Branch Concerns Over Military Pact

NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE

Ireland’s Defence Minister has responded to concerns expressed by An Conradh Ceilteach (the Irish Branch of the Celtic League) when a Defence Agreement (memorandum of Understanding) was signed, in January 2015, between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The branch Convenor Cathal O’Luain wrote to the Minister in January setting out the ‘total opposition’ of the branch to the military pact.

He set out in some considerable detail why the branch believed that a formal military agreement between the two countries was inappropriate. He stressed instances of still unresolved crimes committed by the British military in Ireland over the past 40 years.

The full text of the letter can be found at this link:

https://www.celticleague.net/news/celtic-league-irish-branch-slam-british-irish-military-pact/

The reply from Minister Coveney’s Office, whilst substantial, fails to address the specific crimes and abuses perpetrated by the British Military that the Irish Branch Convener highlighted. Instead it seems to want to focus on the formalisation of the ‘longstanding engagement’ between the armed forces of the two countries.

The text of the Ministers letter is set out below:

“Dear Mr. O’Luain

I have been asked by the Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., to refer to your recent email correspondence concerning the opposition of An Conradh Ceilteach to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Irish Government and the United Kingdom on the 19th January last.

There is longstanding engagement between the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) and the UK Armed Forces, particularly in the area of training and staff to staff meetings. Members of the PDF attend a wide range of courses in the UK and members of the UK Forces have attended courses in Ireland, including in the UN School and on Command and Staff Courses. Members of the Defence Forces currently participate as part of a joint Ireland/UK contingent in the EU training mission in Mali. Defence Forces personnel were also recently deployed in support of the work of the UK Armed Forces in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone. At policy level, there are ongoing exchanges and bilateral meetings at senior official and desk officer level on issues of common interest in the area of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in the EU, Partnership for Peace in NATO and peacekeeping in the UN.

Against this background, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) provides a framework for developing and furthering bilateral co-operation and relations between the Department of Defence and the UK Ministry of Defence. The MOU will take into account matters such as military forces training, exercises and military education; exchange of views on common security and defence policy: potential for joint contributions to UN Crisis Management Operations: joint procurement initiatives; pooling and sharing resources; general sharing of reform in defence services; potential for staff exchanges; sharing of information; and joint contribution to Security Sector Reform and capacity building in crisis locations. It envisages cooperation and exchanges involving both civil and military personnel.

The MOU is a voluntary, non-binding arrangement between the Department of Defence and the UK Ministry of Defence and does not affect or prejudice the position or policy of either country in particular, those relating to Common and/or Mutual Defence.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding places already existing cooperation arrangements in the Defence area between Ireland and the UK on a more formal and transparent footing, while fully respecting the differing policy positions and security arrangements of both States. The signing of the MoU signals the improvement in our relations with the UK and, in that regard, should also contribute to North/South relations.

Yours sincerely,

VINCENT LOWE
PRIVATE SECRETARY
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE”

The response is unlikely to satisfy the members of An Conradh Ceilteach who will consider it in due course.

The issue is also likely to be discussed at the forthcoming Inter-Celtic AGM in Dublin (this weekend) as the League generally has also expressed its outright opposition to the agreement (see links):

https://www.celticleague.net/news/league-condemn-irish-british-military-training-agreement/
https://www.celticleague.net/news/the-irish-british-military-training-agreement/

J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League

07/04/15

(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur)

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