Irish peacekeeping commitment and neutrality maintained: no membership of NATO

irish uk mou signedMichael Fallon, UK defence secretary (left) and Simon Coveney, the Irish defence minister

On Monday, Ireland and the UK signed a memorandum of understanding at historic Dublin Castle – a medieval tower (below). The MOU will allow soldiers from both countries to co-operate on peacekeeping in conflict zones.

The press release states that the agreement “provides opportunities for more joint and collaborative work in support of international peace and security.

The Irish Army will train their British counterparts in peacekeeping operations.

dublin castle

Irish and British soldiers recently served together in an operation in Mali and the Irish defence force has extensive peacekeeping experience in Lebanon.

Relations between Dublin and London have improved following the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland.

Simon Coveney, the Irish defence minister, said the agreement was “voluntary and non-binding” and did not have any impact on Ireland’s official stance of military neutrality.

For many years Ireland’s peacekeepers have a maintained fine reputation for peacebuilding, due to their courteous and insightful engagement with local people wherever they serve. Many who, like most Indian peacekeepers, come from farming families, are able to connect with those in rural areas on other continents on matters of agriculture and animal husbandry.

The Irish government is drafting a white paper that will set objectives for the succeeding two years. This may include military forces training, exercises and education, joint procurement and general sharing on reform in defence services.

 

The white paper will not propose Irish membership of NATO.

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