Irish troops will join the EU training mission in Mali next month after the Government gave the go-ahead to take part, writes Tom Brady.
The Cabinet approved a recommendation from Defence Minister Alan Shatter for an initial deployment of 15 months.
Six personnel will be allocated to a joint UK/Irish team training the Malian armed forces while two others will hold staff posts at the mission headquarters.
It will be the first time for Irish troops to be deployed alongside British soldiers in a peacekeeping team.
Their role will also include providing the Malians with security advice.
The mission overall will comprise 500 military personnel from mid-March.