EU battle groups not appropriate form of international intervention in Chad - Ó Snodaigh
Speaking during a Dáil motion on the dispatch of defence forces personnel to Chad as part of an EU battle group adventure Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh emphasised the party's concern for the deteriorating situation in Chad, agreed that international support and peace keeping is urgently needed but opposed the use of EU battle groups for this purpose.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"Sinn Féin continues to be extremely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Chad. We believe international intervention in this humanitarian crisis is urgently required. But this must be provided by a genuinely neutral UN peace-keeping force.
"There is no denying that the situation for the people of Chad is dire and that urgent international peacekeeping and humanitarian support is required. However the former must be provided by the UN and not out sourced to a burgeoning EU military force.
"The fact remains that there is little information on this mission; little information on its mandate; no information on its financing and ultimately doubt over the mission's actual objective.
"I have previously noted Sinn Féin's concern with the lack of progress towards a political solution to the conflict. We support the efforts of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to find a negotiating solution to the conflict in Darfur by promoting contacts between the Sudanese authorities and the different rebel groups.
"Lieutenant General Patrick Nash is to take over the command of the EU military operation that is preparing to deploy in Chad and the Central African Republic. But, General Nash will be based in an operations headquarters in Paris, while a French office taking over in the operations theatre. The bulk of the EU forces will be French.
"Despite the contribution that the French have made to the EU in recent times we would be concerned that France is playing such an important role in and EU Force to a former French colony.
"The regime of Idress Deby is questionable in terms of its Human Rights record and levels of corruption. It is no secret that the regime is supported politically and militarily by France.
"Ireland has earned international respect and credibility within the UN for its support for the process of decolonisation, to be perceived to be doing the bidding of one of the major colonial powers is just unacceptable.
"From participation in the EU Rapid Reaction Force to NATO's Partnership for Peace, and now the EU Battle Groups, Ireland is increasingly becoming associated with the concept of a fledgling EU army and military intervention, as well as committing ever increasing amounts of money on acquiring weapons of war.
"For these reasons Sinn Fein continues to be opposed to Irish participation in this force. We would urge a rethink and would support the putting together of a genuinely neutral UN peace-keeping force.
"Sinn Féin has consistently cautioned against the deployment of EU battle groups. We believe the increase of military missions will further boost the militarisation of the EU in turn becoming a blueprint for future EU military interventions, enhancing the introduction of the military aspect in the New Reform Treaty." CRÍOCH