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O’Brien calls for Dáil vote on potential €10.7million Battlegroup costs

1 February, 2012 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin defence spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, called on defence minister, Alan Shatter TD to ensure there would be a comprehensive debate as well as a Dáil vote on Ireland’s defence forces participating in a European Battlegroup that could cost the state anywhere up to €10.7million.
Speaking following the meeting of the Select Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence, the Cork North Central TD said:
“The participation of the Irish Defence Forces in European Battlegroups marks a further diminution of what is left of Irish neutrality. It is very clear that there is already a strong lobby within the EU to create an EU-wide army and that this proposal represents a step in that direction.
“A briefing document on the Memorandum of Understanding concerning the establishment of the Battlegroup, given to me by the minister, details how the standby costs for participation alone will be €380,000. We have no idea of where the 175 Irish Defence Force members will be deployed. If they are deployed, the additional cost will be €10.7million. It is unacceptable that in an economic climate where the minister is shutting down army barracks and having a massive negative impact on adjacent communities, that money on this scale should be earmarked for diminishing the State’s already fragile neutrality.
“During the committee meeting on this Battlegroup Agreement, I told the minister that I will be seeking a full Dáil debate on this and would be calling votes on the motion. Any Irish involvement in an EU armed force inevitably leaves Ireland open to being dragged in to future wars with potentially dubious motives. It is unlikely the total money spent on EU missions will be reimbursed.
“Sinn Féin is against any move towards creating a European army, and we are certainly against spending €10.7million to fund it. I will be asking all members to vote against this agreement when it comes to the Dáil.”

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