Government silent on Mali attack

Luke Ming Flanagan MEP has called on the Minister for Defence and Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, to make a statement on the attack on an EU training camp in Mali, where 11 Irish Defence Force members are currently deployed.

On the 24th February, a training centre in Koullikoro, Mali was attacked by ‘unknown elements’ two vehicles loaded with explosives. A number of attackers were killed and three Malian soldiers were injured. No Irish soldiers were injured.

Speaking about the attack, the MEP for Midlands Northwest said: "This comes just over one month after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited the Irish Defence Force members at the Koullikoro camp in Mali. I find it odd that neither the Taoiseach or his acting minister of state, Paul Kehoe, have still not acknowledged that the attack has happened or addressed the fact that Irish Defence Force members are being put at risk. This attack is concerning as it is not isolated."

Mr Flanagan also raised concerns over plans to send the Army Ranger Wing to take part in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) described by The Washington Post as "The World’s Deadliest Mission".

"On Friday of last week three Guinean peacekeepers on the MINUSMA mission in Mali were killed. The Taoiseach needs to carefully consider the risks associated with this mission. I'm calling on him to outline the benefits of sending more Irish soldiers to Mali at this point."

Diarmuid Hayes