“That will be a decision to be taken by the Government..”

As Mick noted previously, on the difficulties facing the Irish troops deployed in Chad, “It looks like the Minister of Defence may have some tough choices ahead.” Ahead of March 2009 that is – the date at which the UN Security Council mandate, empowering the current EUfor deployment, runs out, as Mick also noted here. Today the Republic of Ireland’s Defence Minister, Willie O’Dea, indicated to the Dáil that March 2009 might not be the end of the matter for those troops.

Speaking of the UN’s plans to replace the Eufor mission in March, Mr O’Dea said: “If they don’t meet that ambitious deadline, and I think it is fairly ambitious, no doubt the present operation will be continued in some shape or form and we will be asked to contribute to that.” But he added: “That will be a decision to be taken by the Government. I will look at the military situation and talk to the Army. I will go to Chad again to review conditions on the ground. “I will ultimately bring recommendations to the Government.” The minister said the UN may also spearhead a hybrid force composed of troops drawn from the EU or the African Union.