Earlier this month Ireland’s Defence Secretary. Paul Kehoe attended two events over a four day period that could not have been farther removed from each other.
In the first on 2nd of May he visited Aitken barracks in Dundalk and praised members of the 112th infantry battalion of the Irish Army who are leaving to continue Ireland’s participation to UNIFIL in Lebanon. The Irish contribution to UNIFIL and to UN peacekeeping generally is the epitome of military decency. Over many decades since its first deployment in the Congo in the 1960s the Irish Army has been at the forefront of conflict resolution via appropriately sanctioned UN peacekeeping mandates. The reputation of the Irish Army in this respect has been hard won and not come without a price as many peacekeepers have lost their lives. It is a record however that the Irish Defence Forces can be proud of.
Three days later Kehoe was in Sofia, Bulgaria, for what is described as an informal Ministerial meeting on the CSDP and PESO. CSDP is the EU Common Security and Defence Policy and PESCO the Permanent Structured Cooperation a European military alliance that ties Ireland in with warmongering States in Europe such as France and Spain. It undermines the code of neutrality and unbiased application of Internationally sponsored peacekeeping that Ireland has built up over half a century and traduces the memory of the men of the Defence Forces who have given their lives so that Ireland’s military reputation internationally is untarnished.
Through the cooperation our Irish branch has with peace and neutrality bodies in Ireland we abhor the way that the likes of Kehoe and Varadkar are undermining principles on neutrality without apparently any thought to the damage in the long term they will cause to Ireland’s UN peacekeeping role.
The Irish Defence Forces should not be used so that An Taoiseach or a junior Minister can get a seat at Europe’s military ‘big table’.
Links here to the Defence Departments releases referred to:
Image: Ireland’s President, Michael D Higgins, praises the reputation of Irish UN forces on a visit to Lebanon in April 2015.
pp Celtic League Military Monitoring
May 13th 2018