Mick Wallace The House of 'An #Garda Siochana' is falling down around the Commissioner's ears, while Gov buries head in sand...https://t.co/VLWwtlEDkm
Mick Wallace The #Monsanto that got to meet our Minster for Agriculture, no doubt making strong arguments in the interest of our… https://t.co/UVHZH5da01
Mick Wallace Government has been dragged kicking + screaming to an Inquiry into #NAMA, after almost 2 years - all the while NAMA… https://t.co/3MmgmPWgP6
Mick Wallace + It is essential to Legislate, to avoid pitfalls of IBRC Inquiry - to prevent individuals hiding behind 'Confide… https://t.co/ubFnCa3dTC

MaliOn Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 Mick asked the Minister for Defence if a decision has been taken on the participation of Irish Defence Forces personnel in the UN peacekeeping mission to Mali approved by the Security Council on 25 April 2013; if he will report on the Irish troops currently participating in the EUTM Mali; and if he will make a statement on the matter. The full transcript of the debate is below or you can watch the footage here.

Alan Shatter:

On 25 April 2013, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2100 establishing a peacekeeping force in the west African nation of Mali. Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council established the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, to be known as MINUSMA, for an initial period of 12 months. The new mission will replace the African-led International Support Mission in Mali, AFISMA. On 1 July 2013, African personnel currently deployed to AFISMA will be basically rehatted to MINUSMA. The UN has initiated a force generation process for MINUSMA with a view to deploying, as soon as possible, an advance headquarters team to work alongside AFISMA force headquarters until the transfer of authority on 1 July next.

No formal request has been received from the UN for Defence Forces participation in this mission. However, the UN has advised the European Union and other potential troop contributors of current shortfalls in key enabling factors, including transport, logistics, engineering and medical. The potential for the Defence Forces to contribute is currently under consideration by the defence organisation. No decision has been made at this stage as to whether Ireland will participate.

Regarding the EU Training Mission Mali, EUTM Mali, 22 member states, including Ireland, are contributing more than 500 troops, including 250 instructors and additional military personnel. The purpose of the mission is to provide military training and advice to the Malian armed forces in order to improve their capacity to maintain security and restore the authority of the Malian Government and the territorial integrity of the Malian State.

Eight members of our Defence Forces were deployed to EUTM Mali on 23 March 2013 for a tour of duty of approximately five months. Of these, one lieutenant colonel is the camp commandant of the Koulikoro training camp, while one commandant is employed in the mission headquarters in Bamako. The remaining six form part of a UK-led infantry training team which is based in Koulikoro training camp and is training Malian armed forces personnel. This element consists of a junior officer and five non-commissioned officers. Training for the first group of 650 Malian armed forces personnel commenced on 2 April 2013 and is progressing well. The Defence Forces training team will train two platoons of Malian armed forces personnel during their tour of duty. The training teams are due to rotate in early September 2013.

Mick Wallace:

As we know, military intervention rarely comes without a price. Too often, we have seen the so-called war on terror become the reason for intervention and this is, seemingly, part of the French argument for moving into Mali. I do not know whether the Minister has noticed, but in the past few weeks international agencies have been warning that northern Mali is about to descend to an emergency level of food insecurity and that if conditions do not improve, we are looking at a disastrous situation. Already, more than 250,000 people have been displaced and the number of refugees is growing. The agencies have been at pains to point out that one in every five households now faces food shortages, categorised as severe in northern Mali and as extreme in the Kidal region.

All of this is happening against a backdrop of a chronic nutritional crisis that kills children every day, the majority of them in the south of the country, where 90% of Malians live. The UNICEF Mali representative, Hector Calderon, has estimated that 210,000 will suffer from life-threatening malnutrition this year and 450,000 will suffer a less severe, but debilitating, form of malnutrition.

Michael Kitt:

I must call on the Minister to respond.

Mick Wallace:

Does the Minister not think the energies of the foreign powers should be more directed towards community projects and towards sorting out issues on the ground rather than the military direction of the French effort?

Alan Shatter:

I wish I lived in the simplistic world the Deputy inhabits in dealing with these issues. Of course, it is important there are not food difficulties and that those that exist are addressed. It is also important that children in difficulty have their problems addressed. UNICEF is part of the same organisation involved, the United Nations. As the Deputy may be aware, the problems - despite the way some people in this State like to paint them - that arose in Mali do not derive from the intervention of the French or the assistance European Union countries or other African countries are trying to provide. They derive from the difficulties and collapse that took place in Mali, both the collapse in takeover of the Government of Mali and, forces, particularly fundamentalist groups, who took over northern Mali.

The Deputy may be interested to know that a report by the UN human rights office in February 2013 on the crisis in Mali revealed serious human rights violations since the beginning of the conflict in January 2012. The report highlights issues which must be addressed in response to the current crisis in Mali if lasting peace and stability is to be achieved, including the serious underlying and neglected ethnic tensions in the country. The report provides a very balanced picture, showing there have been abuses by both the Malian authorities and by the militants in the north. The three main regions of northern Mali, Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, had been controlled by four rebel groups before the French and African military intervention. The separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, MNLA, and the extremist movements, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, Ansar Dine and Movement for Unity and Jihad were all engaged.

It is important to bring to the Deputy's attention that Ministers in the north were responsible for serious violations, including summary executions, extra-judicial killings and many abuses were carried out in the name of an extreme interpretation of Sharia law. Women, in particular, endured harassment, abuse, sexual violence, rape and reviews by al-Qaeda and other Islamic groups in the north as a form of ethnic intimidation and repression. The recruitment of child soldiers, sometimes as young as ten, by extremist groups is also documented.

Michael Kitt:

The Minister should conclude.

Alan Shatter:

Is the Deputy seriously saying that all of that should have been ignored or should continue to be ignored and that those groups should have been allowed to take over the entire Malian State and perpetrate murder, persecution and rape throughout that state? It was the intervention of the French and African forces that stopped that.

Finian McGrath:

The Minister supports dictatorship.

Alan Shatter:

What is being done now, which is important, is that the EUTM group is not merely providing military training, but is providing training in human rights issues, in conflict resolution and in civilian protection issues. This is an important element of what needs to be done to facilitate the Malian State's return to some level of normality when the promised elections are held next July.

Mick Wallace:

I have no intention of defending what was going on there. However, the same argument was made for the invasion of Afghanistan. Terrible things were happening in Afghanistan, but after ten years, the situation there has got worse.

It is all very well to say terrible things are happening and to decide to go in and sort them out. Very often, we do not go in for the right reasons. I would like the Minister to give me a litany of places that have actually been improved as a result of intervention. In the past ten years there have been disastrous interventions in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen.

Alan Shatter :

First, there are still difficulties in Afghanistan. The Deputy is wrong about the situation in Afghanistan because there are substantial improvements in that country compared to ten years ago. However, the Deputy chooses to ignore them.

Mick Wallace:

I am not ignoring them.

Finian McGrath:

Question No. 76 in my name relates to the situation in Afghanistan.

Alan Shatter:

Is the Deputy suggesting that where there is murder, mutilation and rape

Mick Wallace:

We know all that.

Alan Shatter:

and where women are being violated and limbs are being cut off, the world should turn its back and do nothing.

Mick Wallace:

No.

Alan Shatter:

Is that what the Deputy is suggesting?

Finian McGrath:

That is not what he said.

Alan Shatter:

I do not agree with that point of view.

Mick Wallace:

I would prefer to see the Africans solve problems in Africa.

 

namaleaks

THE TRUTH IS COMING....

Namaleaks is a project that seeks to uncover possible injustice and poor practice related to NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) and financial institutions in Ireland.

VISIT THE WEBSITE

Back to Top