Simon Coveney defends Afghanistan rescue plan

ireland
Simon Coveney Defends Afghanistan Rescue Plan Simon Coveney Defends Afghanistan Rescue Plan
“We stayed as long as we safely could,” he said,
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Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that the opportunity to get Irish citizens out of Kabul has effectively closed now as the airport there was in the process of shutting down.

“We stayed as long as we safely could,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Coveney also defended the rescue plan implemented this week by the team of Irish army rangers and two diplomats who flew into Kabul for 48 hours to coordinate the extraction of Irish citizens and their dependents.

Twenty six Irish citizens and their dependants were rescued in the mission.

However, the Department of Defence said it is now aware of 75 more Irish citizens or residents requiring support, with the number remaining “fluid”.

UN Security Council

The Minister also reacted to queries about how appropriate it was to have Ireland on the UN Security Council when the country had to rely on other defence forces to rescue citizens.

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“We’re doing a lot of good on the UN Security Council,” he said. Ireland will take the chair of the Council next week for the month of September.

There were “a million reasons” for Ireland to be at the top table, he added.

Of course there were questions about resources for the defence forces and military capacity, these would be addressed in a review of the defence forces which was due in the next three months, he said. The Government would then act on those recommendations.

Mr Coveney said the Government will remain in contact with the Irish citizens and residents still in Afghanistan.

“We will be working with all of those who want to leave Afghanistan to help them find ways of doing that,” he said.

“The truth is, this is going to be an effort that many, many, many countries are involved in. It will be an international community effort to ensure that foreign nationals who are in Afghanistan who want to get out will be facilitated in doing that.”

Mr Coveney added that that work will continue in the days and weeks ahead.

Independent TD Dr Cathal Berry, who is also a former second-in-command of the Irish Army’s Ranger wing, has called for funding for autonomous aircraft for the Irish Defence Forces.

'Hitch hike'

It reflected badly that Ireland had to “hitch hike” around the world, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland earlier this week. It appeared as if Ireland was a “freeloader”, he added.

Ireland had no independent air capability which made it very difficult to get troops into a war zone if required, he said. The State was paying “vast sums” to book air support services ad hoc, it would be better to purchase its own aircraft.

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