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SF will hold Minister to promises on EU Common Defence Research and Technology fund

28 March, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has said he would hold the Minister for Defence to his promise to come back to the Dáil before agreeing to support a Common Defence Research and Technology fund in the European Union.  However, the Sinn Féin deputy went on to accuse the Minister of being disingenuous in his earlier replies to questions about increased military spending.  Deputy Ó Snodaigh made his comments after questioning the Minister in the Dáil this afternoon.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "At a meeting in Innsbruck, Austria on the 6th-7th March Defence Ministers gave the go ahead to create a common defence R&T fund.  According to the European Defence Agency (EDA) press statement, which followed the meeting, 'The Ministers reviewed three possible approaches to increasing spending and collaboration on defence R&T'.  

"In every discussion with me around EU initiatives Minister O’Dea repeats his mantra that these developments will not imply more spending on defence because we will be buying in bulk.  In stark contrast, announcing the Defence Ministers’ collective decision to give a green light to the Common Defence R&T fund, Javier Solana EU Foreign Policy chief made clear that the purpose of the fund is 'to ensure that we spend more, spend more together and spend more effectively'.  And welcoming the decision to set up the Common Defence R&T fund British Defence Secretary John Reid said 'Any mechanism that persuades, encourages, cajoles others to spend money on research and development is well worth it'.

"It is crystal clear that those at the centre of the EU Defence project see increased spending as an integral part of it.  But it is equally clear from these statements that Minister O’Dea has been misleading the Irish people on this issue.

"However, I welcome the fact that he has given this House a commitment to come back before it in advance of making any commitment to contributing to the Common Defence Research and Technology fund.  I intend to hold him to that promise." ENDS

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