Sunday 25 February 2018

Ireland will help fight terror, but stay neutral, says Kenny

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

IRELAND will co-operate "where we can" in terms of EU defence - while maintaining our neutrality, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

In a strong condemnation of the recent terror attacks in Nice, Mr Kenny said Ireland "stands by France".

"France is a great nation. The birthplace of republicanism and human rights. These values are more valuable than ever in a turbulent and dangerous world. We must protect them," he said.

Foreign media have touted plans by French President François Hollande to visit a number of EU capitals in the coming weeks as an attempt to get support for an EU army.

However, he said that Ireland was playing its part without engaging in military activity.

"Defence, protection and security and protection of our borders, that's what people expect of the EU.

"Not to close in on themselves but to... open up with conditions of security," Mr Hollande said.

Addressing the Irish situation, he added: "When France was struck in November and in January and in 2015, I turned to my European partners. I asked them to support France and to have even stronger protection of our territory.

"Ireland responded with a positive answer respecting its neutral status. Even though Ireland is not a member of Nato they wanted to be in solidarity with France and I'll never forget that," he said.

The French leader also noted that a number of Irish soldiers were redeployed to Mali to replace French officers on a peace-keeping mission after they came under threat.

"I hope defence can be strengthened in the years ahead. Ireland because of its principles and neutrality is not a member of Nato but is aware of the risks in the world and that Europe has to get rid of this threat.

"Attacks on our liberty are indiscriminate. They attack everywhere that they think freedom is the vital rule.

"That is why Ireland has already associated itself with certain initiatives in Africa," he said.

Mr Kenny said Ireland would actively help prevent terrorism.

He noted that officials from the Department of Justice are in discussions with the UK authorities about the sharing of information contained on internet servers.

Irish Independent

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