Ireland's new Justice and Defence Minister is Alan Shatter, pictured above with senior officers of the Defence Forces including Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sean McCann (on Shatter's right). Alan Shatter is a practising Jew and proud Zionist. Although like myself he tends to focus more on support for the peace process rather than defence of Israel in an ideological sense. His new role however will lead him on an inevitable collision course with the Israel bashers, some prominent of whom have recently been elected to the new Dail. This from the Irish Times
AN advance party of Irish peacekeeping troops is expected to be deployed in south Lebanon next month, writes Tom Brady.
New Justice and Defence Minister Alan Shatter said yesterday he expected Dail approval for involvement in the United Nations mission there to be granted.
Deployment has already met with the backing of the UN and the Government but needs the approval of the Dail. Mr Shatter, who was at a commissioning ceremony for 31 cadets from the Defence Forces at the Curragh, Co Kildare, yesterday, said Ireland had an extraordinary role in peacekeeping operations and it was a tradition that should be continued.
Asked if his support of Israel over the years was at odds with the deployment of the troops in Lebanon, Mr Shatter said he had spoken in support of a peace process and resolution of the enormous difficulties that were ongoing between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Of course Alan Shatter knows his job well and protecting the Irish Defence Forces will always be his priority. But he will be in a difficult position if lets say one day members of the Irish Army are killed in an accidental exchange of fire with Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border. In any event I have no doubt that his history of supporting Israel will be raised again and again particularly in relation to this upcoming Lebanon mission. It will no doubt also be raised by Hezbollah at the first sign of a dispute between them and the UN mission. Wherever the abuse comes from, Deputy Shatter will have to remain firm in the face of claims of bias.