Defence Minister accuses Clare Daly of blaming Paris attack on politicians rather than 'madmen'
Defence Minister Simon Coveney has accused another TD of appearing to suggest “that the tragedy of Paris is the fault of the French Government as opposed to madmen, who are fundamentalists and who want to destroy the way of life that cities like Paris represent”.
He hit out at Dublin deputy Clare Daly saying her statements on the issue have been “reprehensible”.
“The suggestion in this House that we should be looking at ourselves to blame for what happened on the streets of Paris is reprehensible. France has an obligation to defend itself,” he said.
Mr Coveney was responding to Ms Daly who said the Government had “an incredibly fluid interpretation of what it means to be a neutral country”.
She said the Minister’s readiness to send Irish troops to Mali in order to allow French army officials focus on domestic security exposed “utter hypocrisy”.
“Reference has been made to France being better placed and France having a right to defend its citizens.
“Precisely contradictory remarks were made when Russia engaged in the same reprehensible actions by bombing Syria in response to attacks on Russia.
“The West said Russia should not be doing that because it was endangering its citizens. That was correct for Russia but it is also correct for France,” Ms Daly said.
However, Mr Coveney responded by saying over 130 people had been “mowed down or blown up on the streets of Paris”.
“France has a right to respond to protect itself and it will do that. What it chooses to do is not going to be influenced by Ireland one way or the other,” he said.
The minister added: “I am certainly not going to start lecturing other countries about how they should protect their citizens in the context of what has just happened.”
Responding to other questions on Ireland’s security in the Dáil, Mr Coveney described our Army Ranger wing as “one of the best in the world at what it does”.
He said there are ongoing conversations between the Defence Forces and Gardaí to assess the terrorist threat.
“From a military, policing or intelligence perspective, no country in the world, regardless of scale or resources, can protect its citizens against all eventualities. We are learning that at our cost internationally.”
But he added: “It is important that I reinforce the message for those who may be listening. The threat levels in Ireland have not changed. The threat of an attack in Ireland is possible, but not likely. We all have a responsibility to reassure people in that regard.”