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Army Ranger Wing prepares for deployment to UN mission in 'hostile environment' of Mali

The mission has been described as the most dangerous UN peacekeeping mission in the world.

Minister for Defence addressing the Army Ranger Wing.
Minister for Defence addressing the Army Ranger Wing.
Image: ARW

MINISTER OF STATE with responsibilty for Defence Paul Kehoe has addressed Ireland’s Army Ranger Wing ahead of its UN mission to Mali next week. 

The mission has been described as the most dangerous UN peacekeeping mission in the world, and comes amid heightened tensions and attacks on ethnic minorities in the country.

The ranger wing will join the UN mission MINUSMA – Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali – which was was established in April 2013 after an upsurge in violence in the West African country. 

The Dáil approved the deployment of troops to the country after nearly 100 people were killed in an overnight attack in a village in central Mali in June. 

Army Ranger Wing personnel will be deployed in the coming days to the West African country, the first time the unit has been called into action since being deployed to Chad in 2008.

The deployment will comprise 14 personnel in total with a mix of four and six-month deployments over a 24-month period.  

Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe has said that the decision to send the Army Ranger Wing to Mali was “taken after careful planning and consideration and demonstrates our commitment to UN peace and security”. 

Speaking to troops head of their deployment on 7 September, Kehoe said: “I know that the team deploying to MINUSMA is a highly trained specialist force well equipped to operate in hostile environments such as Mali”. 

Kehoe added that the Ranger Wing will contribute to the “security and stability” of the region, which he said “is a source of much criminality including people trafficking and smuggling.

“Such criminal activities threatens security in the entire region and beyond, including the European Union”. 

Kehoe added that performing “duties overseas can require considerable sacrifice and the Government is very mindful of this.

“Your role in MINUSMA will no doubt be a very challenging one,” he said. “However I am confident that it is very much within your competency and capability.”

Proponents of sending Irish troops have stressed the importance of Ireland’s participation in such missions, but critics say it would endanger Irish troops and compromise the State’s neutrality.

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