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Sinn Féin opposition to Battle Groups vindicated

4 October, 2006


Sinn Fein International Affairs and Defence spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said a statement made today by the representative association of the defence forces PDFORRA rubbishes Defence Minister Willie O'Dea's argument that signing up to EU battle groups would not necessitate increased spending on defence equipment and that it would not deplete the numbers of soldiers available for UN peacekeeping missions.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "This morning a representative of PDFORRA claimed that because of the new commitment to EU battle groups additional defence spending for equipment and manpower are required. This vindicates what Sinn Fein has argued since the prospect of Irish participation in the EU battle groups was first raised. I put it to Defence Minister Will O'Dea during numerous Dáil exchanges, both written and verbal, dating back to 2004 that signing up to EU battle groups would necessitate increased spending on defence equipment and that it would deplete the numbers of soldiers available for UN peacekeeping missions. Minister O'Dea denied this would be the case until he was blue in the face.

"Unfortunately the demand today from the defence force's representative association for more funding and manpower to fulfil the commitment to EU battle groups proves my arguments and blows the Minister's out of the water. Not only did the Minister deceive Deputies and the public when he denied the cost implications of joining battle groups but he also introduced the legislation allowing for participation in an underhand way especially given the grave implications for Irish neutrality involved. The Defence (Amendment) Bill 2005 was passed at midnight during the last week before the summer recess following a total of just 2 hours Dáil debate." ENDS

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