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23/09/2021

Portarlington TD and former army ranger welcomes Irish deployment to Afghanistan

Portarlington TD and former army ranger welcomes Irish deployment to Afghanistan

TD Cathal Berry on an overseas mission with the Army Ranger Wing

A South Kildare TD who represents and lives in Portarlington, and is a former Army Ranger, has welcomed the move by the Irish Army to help evacuate Irish citizens from Afghanistan.

Members of the Irish Army Ranger Wing in the elite special forces unit have been deployed to Afghanistan to provide security and support at the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Currently approximately 30 Irish citizens are seeking evacuation from Kabul. 

An Emergency Consular Assistance Team (ECAT) - featuring members of the Army Ranger Wing based at the Curragh - is expected to arrive on Tuesday evening, August 24 in Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul, to assist the remaining Irish citizens who wish to evacuate from Afghanistan.

Cathal Berry is an Independent TD for Kildare South has been calling for their deployment since early last week.

“Great that the Ranger Wing have been deployed to assist with this mission, it’s better late than never. It should have been done last week. These highly skilled individuals represent the finest of the Irish Defence Forces. There are no better people to extract Irish citizens than Irish soldiers themselves," he said.

He described how prepared the wing is for such action.

“This operation is called a Non-Combatant Emergency Operation or NEO and the ARW would be training for these every year. Not only do they conduct exercises, but they do have contingency plans in place so they can customise to any country in the world.”

“The real value of having Irish troops on the ground will be the face-to-face contact with their counterparts from other militaries, some of whom they will have worked with in the past - that is the key component that had been missing. This is a hand-picked team, including a communication specialist, with encrypted satellite radios, you’ll have medical specialists and other specialists. Their job is to provide assistance and security for the two diplomats in order to extract our Irish citizens," Deputy Berry said.

Ten Irish citizens have already been evacuated through HKIA with the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs the Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

The remainder of citizens that have requested assistance with evacuation comprises mainly of family groups

 The ECAT will consist of officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Defence Forces personnel, namely members of the elite the Army Ranger Wing.

This is a consular assistance mission with Defence Forces providing security and support to the consular staff.  

 The deployment of the ECAT has been approved by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence Simon Coveney on the joint recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defence.

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