Sunday 11 December 2016

We must support French - Flanagan

Sarah Collins

Published 19/07/2016 | 02:30

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ireland must "rally around France" in the wake of the devastating Bastille Day attacks in Nice, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said.

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European Union foreign ministers were meeting for the first time yesterday following a turbulent week in Europe.

They discussed last Thursday's attack on the French Riviera, in which 84 people were killed, as well as the attempted military coup in Turkey at the weekend, which killed more than 200.

In response to the Nice attack, France called for extra help in running counter-terrorism missions in Africa and the Middle East, which Mr Flanagan said the government would consider supporting.

Commitment

"I believe that it's important that we rally around France and ensure that we all make a commitment towards securing our citizens within the European Union," the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

"I think consideration can be given towards further assistance in that regard."

But he also added that Ireland's neutrality - which is enshrined in a protocol to the EU's Lisbon Treaty - was "very much recognised by our European colleagues around the table".

Following the Paris attacks last November, France invoked a clause in the Lisbon Treaty which obliges EU countries to come to a fellow member state's aid if it experiences an "act of aggression on its territory".

The government pledged at the time to increase the number of Irish troops stationed in Mali as part of a UN-mandated EU training mission.

Mr Flanagan added that the matter would come up again when the French president François Hollande visits Ireland later this week.

Irish Independent

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