• October 8, 2015



This week the Dáil accepted by a substantial (72 to 25) majority to commit Ireland to participation in an EU ‘Battle group’, led by Germany, to be established next year.

Some independent members and Sinn Féin opposed the State signing a memorandum of understanding on the principles surrounding the start-up and operation of the battle group arguing that it compromised Ireland’s neutrality.

The other countries involved as part of the ‘Battlegroup’ will include, Germany, Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Opening the debate, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said the term “battle group” was “unfortunate and misleading”. He tried to downplay the significance of the ‘title’ of the body but quite frankly this is disingenuous.

The ‘Battlegroup’ concept has existed for a decade now and although originally floated as more akin to a support adjunct to UN peacekeeping it is anything but that.

Indeed in the early days of the concept when the main powers in Europe were that keen to garner support for the idea in countries, such as Ireland, where there might to a reluctance to engage they elicited the support of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

In 2004, Annan welcomed the plans and emphasized the value and importance of the ‘Battlegroups’ in helping the UN deal with trouble-spots (there is a link below to a report on this in the Irish Times in 2004).


Ireland has participated in the ‘Battlegroup’ before indeed its first deployment is listed as part of the so called ‘Nordic Battlegroup’ (Estonia, Finland and Norway) in 2008.

It was also in the ‘Nordic Battlegroup’ in 2011 with for some bizarre reason Croatia included? In 2015, it was still part of ‘Nordic Battlegroup’, with Estonia, Finland Norway and this time with Latvia and Lithuania.

The deployments which Defence Minister Coveney sought approval for this time will see Ireland become part of the ‘German-Czech-Austrian Battlegroup’, together with Luxembourg and Croatia.

Ireland’s military are effectively ‘moving into the first division’ a rapid response force at the heart of the continent at one of the most politic-military sensitive times since the Cuba crisis.

Also despite Kofi Annan’s early endorsement of the force and Simon Coveney’s attempt to play down the significance of it this is no ‘rapid response reserve’ for UN peacekeeping.
Right at it very inception the ‘EU Battlegroup’ concept was integral to NATO. The first paragraph of the factsheet drawn upon its inception (2005) said:

“The ability for the EU to deploy force packages at high readiness as a response to a crisis is an essential aspect of the European Security and Defence Policy and a key element of the

EU’s military capabilities development and of the 2010 Headline Goal. This ability is
developed in full complementarity and mutual reinforcement with NATO and NATO
initiatives such as the NATO response force.”

Whatever claims to neutrality Ireland has was compromised when it committed to the first ‘Nordic Battlegroup’ a decade ago – Coveney’s successful ploy in the Dail this week further cements that link which draws the country ever closer to NATO.


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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