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EU Battle Groups - will Irish troops be accountable to British occupation troops?

12 May, 2006

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has this morning questioned the Irish Government Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea on whether or not Irish troops would be under the command of British forces in the new European Battle Groups.

Ms McDonald made her comments after it emerged that the battle group which Ireland will likely join will have its headquarters in Northwood, Britain.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"The Irish Government has clearly committed itself to the European Union‚s fledgling military ambitions as a regional power on the global stage. These EU Battle Groups are the first step along this road and will allow the European Union to deploy troop platoons in conflict zones around the world.

"Sinn Féin has serious reservations about these EU Battle Groups. Not only are they a gross infringement of the principle of Irish neutrality but in addition they will weaken the United Nation‚s ability and capacity to respond to international crises effectively, since European troops will be diverted to these battle groups.

"I want to take this opportunity to challenge Willie O'Dea, and to ask him whether or not Irish troops will be expected to fight alongside British forces and if Irish troops will be under the command of the British Army. Many Irish people will have serious reservations regarding the further erosion of the principle of neutrality and also the fact that Irish troops could potentially take orders from an army who continue to occupy the north eastern six counties of Ireland.

"If this is indeed the case, then the Irish people have a right to know that Ireland has become inextricably associated with the concept of a fledgling EU army, military intervention and the British army - which has murdered Irish citizens, colluded in the murder of Irish citizens and continues to occupy part of the nation." ENDS

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