Dáil votes to have Defence Forces join EU battle groups next year
A motion on the participation of the Defence Forces in a German-led battle group next year has passed in the Dáil.
The battle group will include personnel from Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia and the Netherlands.
They will be on stand-by for six months from July 2020.
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe brought a memo to Cabinet on the proposed participation.
EU battle groups are multinational, military units that are part of the European Union’s military rapid reaction capacity.
The group, made up of about 1,500 personnel, is dispatched to emerging crises and conflicts around the world.
No battle group has ever been sent into action.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Minister Kehoe said: “Participation in the EU’s battle group represents another means for Ireland to express our commitment to the UN and its principles.”
Fianna Fáil’s Jack Chambers said the party would support the motion because he said Ireland was committed to maintaining peace across Europe.
“Participation in these battle groups is a way to ensure that our people are safe, peace is secure and stability is ensured,” he added.
Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó’Snodaigh said that in his opinion sending a battle group into a conflict area to disarm one side is taking sides.
We are a neutral country; that is not our role and should never be our role in the future,he said.
Labour’s Brendan Ryan said Labour would be supporting the motion.
He said involvement in these groups provides members of the Defence Forces with modern training and builds up positive relations with other European countries.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett criticised the motion and said it was a step towards creating a European army and he said it would breach Ireland’s neutrality.
We are being pushed down a slippery slope towards involvement in an EU army,
Raidió Teilifís Éireann By Aisling Kenny
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