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Participation in overseas missions must remain on voluntary basis

6 October, 2006

Responding to discussions at the conference of the association, representing rank-and-file members of the Defence Forces, PDFORRA Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD expressed Sinn Fein's support for all participation in overseas missions to remain voluntary.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Sinn Fein supports the efforts of PDFORRA to ensure that overseas service by members of the Defence Forces remains voluntary. Sinn Fein submitted an amendment to the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006 which proposed to delete section 4 of the Bill. That section of the Bill provides for the secondary conscription of defence forces personnel. Prior to the Bill's passage members volunteered to undertake overseas services but under the terms of the new legislation the voluntary nature of this service is removed and members may be required to engage in EU battle group missions under orders."

"Unfortunately because the legislation was rushed through by Defence Minister Willie O'Dea in the final week of the Dáil with a total of just 2 hours Dail debate our amendment was not even reached and so the Bill was passed as drafted. Sinn Féin voted against the Bill and remains firmly opposed to any Irish participation in EU battle groups. And we will continue to oppose any effort by the government to force Irish soldiers to participate in EU battle group missions." ENDS

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