Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Defence Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD has reiterated his call for the expansion of the United Nations Training School at the Curragh Camp in Kildare. Deputy Ó Fearghaíl made the call in advance of the long awaited publication of the White Paper on Defence by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney.

“The United Nations Training School was established in 1993 as a constituent of the Defence Force’s Military College and has been based at the Curragh Camp since then. The training school has been highly successful to date but its scope remains somewhat limited” said Deputy Ó Fearghaíl.

“Fianna Fáil believes that there is a unique opportunity to expand the UN Training School based at the Curragh Camp. This was reflected in our submission to the Department of Defence in 2013 for the Green Paper on Defence. In that submission we highlighted the opportunity to develop a major international academy for peacekeeping at the Curragh Camp.

“I raised the White Paper on Defence with Minister Coveney in the Dáil this week and was encouraged when he outlined that he is seriously considering Fianna Fáil’s proposal for the expansion of the UN Training School at the Curragh in conjunction with a third level institution. There are over 100,000 UN personnel deployed across the globe at any one time and Ireland could position itself as a major training centre for these personnel.

“The Irish Defence Forces are proud participants in UN peace keeping missions internationally. The Defence Forces personnel that have served overseas on these missions have gained extensive skills and experience in peacekeeping, negotiation and military diplomacy. The expansion of the UN Training School in Ireland would allow for greater transfer of skills between the Irish Defence Forces and our international partners. It is a win-win situation for all concerned.

“Furthermore Ireland is in a unique position to offer advice and training on conflict resolution. The Troubles was a dark period in Irish history but the bringing about of the Good Friday Agreement shows us that we have the skills necessary to bridge the divide between communities. In the last two years alone we have seen the emergence of widespread conflict in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. It is clear now more than ever the United Nations needs people with extensive conflict resolution skills to teach and mentor a new generation of peacekeepers.

“It is clear that there is a huge opportunity to expand the scope of the UN Training School at the Curragh Camp. Minister Coveney needs to take on board the suggestions that we made through our submission on the Green Paper on Defence and ensure that the expansion of the training school becomes a reality” said Deputy Ó Fearghaíl.