Taoiseach says Government willing to send troops to Mali to relieve French personnel
Published 20/11/2015 | 02:30
Taoiseach Enda Kenny says the Government will respond positively to any request to send Irish peacekeeping troops to Mali in order to free up French troops needed to fight Isil.
Mr Kenny said that a formal request had yet to be received but that he had informed that the French defence forces were "stretched" following the Paris atrocities.
The Irish Independent reported on Wednesday that Ireland is expected to send a strong contingent of peacekeeping troops to Mali to allow France to withdraw some military personnel for deployment elsewhere.
The move is likely to form the central plank of a response by the Government here to a call from France for assistance.
Speaking in Government Buildings yesterday, Mr Kenny said some 10 members of the Irish defence forces are already based in the African country assisting their French counterparts.
But he indicated that the Government could increase this number, if asked to do so.
"We have said that, within our conditions and our circumstances, we will assist in whatever way we can here, though probably the numbers will be small," Mr Kenny said.
"When I signed the book of condolences at the French embassy the other day, the French ambassador did mention this to me that France is now very stretched," he added.
Meanwhile, Mr Kenny said a terrorist attack in Ireland was "possible but not likely".
Several members of the Cabinet, including Mr Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton, received a security briefing this morning in light of the Paris atrocities.
The briefing was received by the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.
Speaking at an Action Plan for Jobs event in Government Buildings, Mr Kenny said the attacks in France had not altered Ireland's status.
"The Tánaiste and I and the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence had a briefing this morning from the national security committee, including the Garda Commissioner and the chief of staff of the Defence Forces," Mr Kenny told reporters. "The situation insofar as Ireland is concerned has not changed since the Paris attacks. An incident is possible but not likely."