Monday, July 15, 2024

Gardaí investigating claims former Defence Forces members training troops in Libya |

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The Government and gardaí are investigating claims former Irish Defence Forces personnel have been training troops loyal to a Libyan army commander.

The Defence Forces have now called on gardaí to examine claims that the former serving personnel engaged in weapons training in Irish army fatigues contrary to an ongoing UN arms and arms-related embargo in Libya.

The claims appeared in an Irish Times article which reported former members of the elite Army Ranger Wing are alleged to have been training troops loyal to Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.

It has been alleged that a company run by Irish ex-special forces soldiers flew highly-skilled soldiers from Ireland to Libya’s city of Benghazi where they joined other special forces trainers from other jurisdictions.

The company, which is also involved in security-related contracts in Ireland, is understood to have been contracted to train members of Haftar’s Libyan National Army infantry brigade made up of militias and Russian mercenaries.

A Defence Forces spokesperson said it has “actively engaged” with gardaí on the matter.

“The Defence Forces is always disappointed if its former members act in a way that is at odds with our ethos and values.”

Regarding claims former soldiers dressed in Irish Defence Forces army fatigues, the spokesperson said that personnel are required to return all Defence Forces issued kit and equipment on their discharge from the organisation.

“No civilian personnel are entitled to wear Defence Forces attire or insignia and it is a criminal offence to impersonate a member of the Defence Forces.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has asked the Department of Enterprise to investigate the extent to which the allegations constitute a breach of the UN’s military training embargo in Libya.

Mr Martin is also considering whether new laws are needed on what serving and former Defence Forces personnel can and can’t do in countries with UN arms and training embargoes in place.

The article also referenced a claim that one of the soldiers working as a trainer in Libya was still enlisted with the Irish Defence Forces pending their discharge

A spokesperson for Mr Martin, who is also the Defence Minister, said: “The alleged breaches of UN and EU sanctions in the manner outlined in the report are deeply shocking and cause reputational damage to Ireland and our Defence Forces.”

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