Terrorist attack on Ireland ‘possible but not likely’ says Taoiseach Enda Kenny

A terrorist attack on Ireland is possible but not likely, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said, after being briefed by Irish security forces.
Terrorist attack on Ireland ‘possible but not likely’ says Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Mr Kenny confirmed that Ireland was considering assigning more soldiers to peacekeeping duties in Mali or Lebanon in a move that would allow France free up troops to fight Islamic State.

Ireland’s national security committee briefed members of government yesterday, as security operations continued in European capitals after the massacre of 129 people in Paris last week.

Mr Kenny confirmed that he along with Tánaiste Joan Burton and the ministers for foreign affairs, justice, and defence met with the Defence Force’s chief of staff and Garda commissioner.

“The situation as far as Ireland is concerned has not changed since the Paris attacks.

An incident is possible but not likely.” He said he and the ministers received a “full briefing” from the security committee yesterday.

It emerged this week that France has asked European countries for help following the attacks, a situation that could see Ireland takeover peacekeeping missions.

Mr Kenny said he had spoken to French ambassador to Ireland Jean-Pierre Thébault about his country’s needs. “He did mention this to me that France is now very stretched.”

France has invoked Article 42.7 of the Lisbon treaty, which obliges EU states to provide some assistance if another is the subject of armed aggression.

Mr Kenny said the Coalition had yet to decide if Irish troops would be deployed elsewhere.

“The formal request has not come in from France yet. It may be dealing with extra personnel, that the French may withdraw from south Lebanon, Mali, or wherever.

"We said within our circumstances and our conditions we will assist where we can.”

Mr Kenny suggested only a small number of Irish troops may be involved.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney could not confirm if a decision would be made on sending troops to Mali and Lebanon before Christmas.

He said the Government was “anxious to be helpful” if France pulls peacekeepers to take up national security roles.

“I am not going to send Irish troops anywhere without the proper due diligence being done first, so let’s wait and see how discussions with France and the UN progress with that.

“We are only starting to talk to France today in terms of what they want to do in the coming days and weeks.

“Ireland may well be able to be helpful in picking up some of that burden in parts of the world where we already have experience.

“Nothing is confirmed yet, what we have said is that we have a willingness to be helpful here because France has asked for help.

“We are exploring ways in which we can be helpful in a way that is consistent with our constitution and a way that sent undermine in anyway Irish neutrality.

“Obviously if we send troops anywhere the triple lock will apply, there will be a debate, there will be a decision and there will have to be a UN mandate and there will be a Dáil and Seanad decision.

"We are simply responding to a response from France to look at ways in which we could be helpful if they choose to change their presence on a lot of peace-keeping missions because of national security concerns.

“We will see over the next few weeks what happens on that.”

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