Irish troops in Afghanistan will be increasingly vulnerable to attack by Taliban forces because the Irish Government has decided to continue sending personnel to a NATO mission there.
That’s according to anti-war groups here who say the Government has missed a chance to end it’s involvement in Afghanistan after NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) ended on December 31st.
Seven Irish Defence Forces personnel who had been attached to that mission were reassigned to a Resolute Support Mission in Kabul on January 1st.
International secretary of the PANA in Ireland Dr Edward Horgan said: “With the ending of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan on 31 December 2014, the Irish Government had a good opportunity to end the inappropriate presence of Irish troops in Afghanistan, where they are in effect interfering in a civil war.”
“We are very concerned that the decision of the present Government to assign seven Irish soldiers to the “new” so called Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan has not been approved by the Oireachtas because the Government uses the excuse that any mission of less than 12 soldiers does not need Dáil approval,” he added.
“From now on these Irish soldiers are going to be increasingly vulnerable to attack by Afghan insurgent Taliban forces because the vast majority of foreign troops have now been withdrawn from Afghanistan, and the Taliban have been waging an increasingly effective war against the incumbent western installed government,” Dr Horgan said.
John Lannon of Shannonwatch said: “There is no valid justification for the presence of Irish soldiers in Afghanistan, and this is most certainly not a peace keeping mission or a humanitarian mission. The risks to which these Irish soldiers are now being exposed is unacceptable.”
“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Defence should be asked to explain why and on what basis they have effectively abandoned Irish neutrality on this issue and on the continuing misuse of Shannon airport by the US military, without have received Dáil/Oireachtas approval,” he added.
The Department of Defence has confirmed: “On Tuesday 9 December, the Government approved the participation of seven members of the Defence Forces to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, which commenced on Thursday last, 1 January 2015.”
“The Defence Forces personnel who were deployed to the ISAF mission were reassigned to the new Resolute Support Mission on the 1st of January 2015, and are based in HQ in Kabul,” a spokeswoman added.
“Resolute Support Mission is a training support mission designed to support and develop the capacity of the Afghan National Defence Forces so as they can ensure the security of the Afghan population and its national governmental institutions following the withdrawal of the ISAF mission,” she explained.
Ireland is currently contributing approximately 427 Defence Forces personnel to 11 missions and to various staff and observer posts throughout the world.
The main overseas missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 199 personnel, and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria with 138 Defence Forces personnel.