Defence Forces to join UK-led European battle group

 Members of the Defence Forces from the 53rd Infantry Group pictured in April during a readiness training excercise in Coolmoney Camp, Glen of Imaal, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin.

The Defence Forces are to join a UK-led EU battle group, following their participation in four similar operations undertaken since 2008.

Following a short but heated debate on the move, the Dáil voted by 95 to 31 for Ireland’s participation.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour, Rural Independents, the Independent Alliance and Minister for Children Katherine Zappone voted in favour of the proposal.

Sinn Féin, the AAA-PBP, Independents 4 Change, the Green Party and Independent TD Catherine Connolly opposed participation. The Social Democrats did not vote.

Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Cyprus will also be involved in the group. Five Defence Forces personnel will have staff positions at the headquarters in Northwood and Catterick in England and will be involved in training and planning activities, according to Minister of State Paul Kehoe.

Since their introduction in 2008, no battle groups have been deployed on a mission but Defence Forces personnel have engaged in training and exercises with the forces of other EU member states.

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