Irish troops could be sent to Iraq as peacekeepers, says US Ambassador
By Dan Buckley
THE US Ambassador to Ireland indicated yesterday that he would favour Irish peacekeeping troops being sent to Iraq.
Citing Irish success in Lebanon and its current role in Liberia, Mr James C Kenny said such an eventuality would be “a good thing”.
Mr Kenny said: “America does not have all the answers and we would support any constructive help.”
While refusing to be drawn on Irish attitudes to the scandal surrounding US forces in Iraq, he said: “Irish troops have capabilities of peacekeeping and maybe they can be used.”
Mr Kenny was echoing the views of Ike Skelton, a leading Democrat in the US House of Representatives Armed Forces Committee who is anxious to see both Irish and Scandinavian troops become the peacekeepers of Iraq.
However, Mr Kenny said he did not wish to pre-empt the views of the Irish armed forces, and said it was a matter for dialogue between the US and Irish governments.
Mr Kenny, who became US ambassador last October was speaking in Cork after visiting a number of American businesses in the city and was clearly impressed with what he saw.
He said Ireland had enjoyed astounding levels of economic growth, much of it with the help of US investment here which surpassed American business in the whole of China.
“It approaches $42 billion and that is absolutely astonishing and the Chinese are the most surprised. It is a credit to both our countries that this relationship is that positive,” Mr Kenny said.
He said that part of his role as ambassador was to protect that $42bn investment “and make it flourish and continue”.
Despite the end of the Celtic Tiger era, he said investment was continuing to grow and the task now was to consolidate that growth with higher value jobs, aided by growth in third level education.
“Microsoft is a good example. They employ 1,600 people in Dublin and the average salary is €65,000 a year,” he said.
On the broader theme of EU enlargement, Mr Kenny said the new Europe represented an enormous market and opportunity for both US and European business.
I'll give Irish troops being deployed to Iraq two chances.
Bertie Ahern must have had a ****ing heart attack when he heard reports of what Kenny said.
In August 1993, for the first time, the Defence Forces sent troops abroad as part of a peace enforcing mission to Somalia. The United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II) was different from other missions that the Defence Forces had been involved in because it was mandated to use force to impose a cease-fire.
The Defence Forces contribution to UNOSOM II consisted of almost 100 personnel comprising a transport company based in Baidoa and personnel in the Force Headquarters.