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We need to reconsider defence co-operation

May I express concern at the report of an agreement on defence co-operation between Ireland and the UK, due to be signed later this month.

Currently, there is a deployment of eight Irish army personnel as part of a joint contingent under the umbrella of the Royal Irish Regiment in Mali. The presence of Irish Army personnel operating under British command might be construed as conferring approval of current British wars overseas and must be considered repugnant to Ireland’s policy of neutrality. The formal presence of Irish Army personnel alongside British soldiers blurs the independence and sovereignty of the Irish Army and sends out the message that Irish and British armies are under single command and the Irish State is just a devolved British administration.

It amounts to a surrender of sovereign control over Irish defence forces to a foreign army. Indeed, some may interpret the Irish State’s involvement with British forces as a further sign of incremental Commonwealth re-entry. I find this disparaging of the independence and ethos of our national army and State.

The Irish Army is not an imperial army. It was born out of the struggle for independence from British rule.

Tom Cooper

Templeville Road

Templeogue, Dublin 6w


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