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Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, T.D.,
Visits Mali

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., concluded a visit today to Mali in Western Africa to meet with Irish troops serving with the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali). This is the first time an Irish Minster for Defence visited Mali.

This is also the first joint UK/Ireland deployment to a peacekeeping operation. The Minister commented during the visit that “I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit the joint UK/Ireland Infantry Training Team and see the close cooperation and collaboration between our troops on this important mission serving the people of Mali and supporting peace and security across the region. This first deployment to a peacekeeping operation between our nations represents a further significant step in continuing the ongoing development of the positive relationship that now exists between our countries.”

Minister Coveney visited the Headquarters of the training mission where he met with the Mission Commander, Brigadier General Alfonso García-Vaquero Pradal. Brigadier General García-Vaquero expressed his gratitude for Ireland’s contribution to EUTM Mali and praised the work of Irish personnel serving in the mission.

In the afternoon, the Minister, accompanied by the UK Ambassador to Mali, Her Excellency Ms Joanne Adamson OBE, travelled to EUTM Mali’s Training Camp based in Koulikoro (60km north of Bamako) where he was welcomed by Camp Commandant, Colonel Nouhoum Mamadou Tarore of the Malian Armed Forces. The Minister then met with Irish and UK Troops troops serving with the joint UK/Irish infantry Training Team. The Minister later met with Brigadier General Thiebault of the French Armed Forces and received a briefing on MINUSMA, the UN mission in Mali.

Minister Coveney presented three Irish personnel, with their Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Service Medals, which is an international military decoration awarded to individuals, both military and civilian, who have served with CSDP missions. Minister Coveney also attended a St Patrick’s Day Parade at the Camp and presented shamrock to the Irish Personnel, representatives of the UK personnel and assembled dignitaries.

The Minister congratulated the Irish personnel on the work they are doing in the mission. “The Irish Government is mindful of the great sacrifices that each one of you is making and I personally thank you. We are very proud of the role that you are undertaking here in Mali on behalf of your country . “ The Minister wished all personnel of EUTM Mali a safe and successful mission during their tour of duty in Mali.

The Minister will return to Ireland on Friday morning, 20th March.


Note for Editor:

On 18 February 2013, at the request of the Malian authorities, and in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2085 (2012), the European Union launched a training mission for Malian armed forces, EUTM Mali. The objective of the mission is to train and mentor the Malian Armed Forces to improve their military capacity and their effectiveness in guaranteeing the country's territorial integrity. Training is also being provided in international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and human rights.

On 26 February 2013, the Government approved the deployment of members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUTM Mali. Currently, Ireland is contributing ten (10) personnel to the mission. Three (3) Irish personnel occupy staff appointments in the mission Headquarters in Bamako and six (6) Defence Forces personnel are deployed to the joint UK/Irish infantry Training Team with personnel from the Battalion of The Second Royal Gurkha Rifles and are based in Koulikoro Training Centre (60km north of Bamako). One (1) Irish officer serves as Executive Officer to the Training Task Force also based in Koulikoro training Centre.

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