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Minister for Defence challenged on funding for EU Battlegroups-Doolan

11 May, 2006

Sinn Féin's Dublin Spokesperson on European Affairs, Councillor Daithí Doolan, today challenged, "the Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea, to stop misleading the public and to come clean on how the government will fund EU Battlegroups."

Speaking at today‚s National Forum on Europe debate with Minister O'Dea, Cllr. Doolan said:

"The objective of these Battlegroups is to wage war. It is clear that this State's involvement in the European Union Battlegroups will be funded by the Irish tax payer. This comes at a time when ques for hospital beds are ever lengthening, housing waiting lists grow by the day, homeless die on our streets and schools remain closed for want of basic repairs. The Minister may well dismiss my arguments and I am sure he will. But the fact is Javier Solana, EU Foreign Policy chief has said that the main purpose of the common defence fund is 'to ensure that we spend more, spend more together and spend more effectively'.

"These groups will also have to be mutually supportive and complementary to NATO, in doing so member states must address shortfalls in cruise missiles, precision guided munitions, attack helicopter battalions & field artillery battalions so our neutrality will once again be totally undermined as well as tax money being diverted away from funding health care to funding the arms industry.

"Ireland has a very long and proud history of involvement in UN Peacekeeping Forces, yet these Battlegroups also pose a very real threat to the future of the UN. With 156,000 troops involved in the EU Battlegroups the UN will suffer depleting numbers at a time when the strain on peacekeeping could not be greater. It appears that Minister O‚Dea has simply prioritised Battlegroups over legitimate peacekeeping."

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan called on the Minister for Defence, "to publicly justify the funding and prioritising of the arms industry while our healthcare system remains in crisis." ENDS

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