Relations with Ireland

  • Last updated: 21 Mar. 2016 13:58

NATO and Ireland actively cooperate on humanitarian issues, rescue, peacekeeping and crisis management, and have developed practical cooperation in a range of other areas.


  • Irish cooperation with NATO is based on a longstanding policy of military neutrality, which allows for its armed forces to be used for peacekeeping and crisis management where there is a United Nations mandate, a government decision and parliamentary approval.
  • Cooperation in areas that match joint objectives has been reinforced over the years since Ireland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) and became a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1999.
  • Ireland’s participation in the PfP has focused on enhancing the interoperability of its armed forces and its capacity to participate in multinational crisis-response operations.
  • Ireland is a valued contributor to NATO-led operations and missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan.

More background information

  • Key areas of cooperation

    Security cooperation

    In 1997, Ireland deployed personnel in support of the NATO-led peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many of its forces formed part of an international military police company, primarily operating in Sarajevo.

    Ireland began contributing to the NATO-led Kosovo peacekeeping force (KFOR) in 1999 and has provided a truck cargo support company, an infantry company and staff officers. Additionally, Ireland was in command of Multinational Task Force Centre from 2007 to 2008. Currently, 12 personnel are deployed as part of KFOR.

    Since 2002, Irish staff officers and non-commissioned officers have been working alongside Allied forces in Afghanistan – first, as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which completed its mission at the end of 2014, and currently as part of the follow-on mission (known as Resolute Support) to further train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces.

    Based on the considerable peacekeeping experience of the Irish Defence Forces, Ireland contributes actively to a variety of PfP activities in areas such as generic planning for peacekeeping and peace support, communications, command and control, operational procedures, logistics and training. The Irish Defence Forces also operate a UN peacekeeping school, which offers courses that are open to all Allies and partners. Since 2010, the Irish Defence Ordnance School also offers training courses on improvised explosive device disposal.

    Defence and security sector reform

    Participating in peacekeeping operations and engaging in PfP activities has complemented Ireland’s own process of military transformation. Participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) assists Ireland in developing the capabilities and interoperability of the forces it declares available for PfP activities, including NATO-led operations, while also supporting Ireland’s efforts to meet capability goals in the EU framework. Ultimately, the Irish Defence Forces are improving their expeditionary peace-support-operation capabilities through PARP.

    Over the years, along with individual Allies and partners, Ireland has contributed to ten Trust Fund projects in other partner countries. These include the destruction of mines in Montenegro and Serbia, the destruction of ammunition for small arms and light weapons in Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine, and the removal of dangerous chemicals in Moldova, as well as projects aimed at building integrity and transparency in defence and security institutions.

    Science and environment

    Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, scientists from Ireland have participated in numerous advanced research workshops and seminars on a range of topics, including science in the policy-making process, suicide bombing, and security and culture.

  • Framework for cooperation

    NATO and Ireland decide upon areas of cooperation in Ireland’s Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (IPCP), which is jointly agreed for a two-year period.

    The current IPCP focuses on the enhancement of skills and expertise in areas such areas as operational and generic planning for peacekeeping and peace support, communications (including cyber defence), command and control, operational procedures and logistics. Activities include training courses, seminars, workshops, conferences, exercises and certification and standardisation procedures.

    Participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) is aimed at enhancing Ireland’s ability to take part in multinational peace-support operations, improving capabilities and developing interoperability with Allies and other partners.

  • Milestones in relations

    1997:  Ireland sends its first contingent of troops to support the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    1999:  Ireland joins the Partnership for Peace and deploys forces to support the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

    1999:  Ireland joins the newly created Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

    2000:  Ireland submits its first Individual Partnership Programme.

    2001:  Ireland joins the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP).

    2002:  Irish staff personnel are assigned to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

    2002:  Ireland participates in Cooperative Safeguard, a humanitarian exercise, in Iceland.

    2005:  Along with several other Allies and partners, Ireland responds to the request from the United States for assistance to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    2007-2008:  Ireland commands Multinational Taskforce Centre in Kosovo.

    2008:  Ireland participates in NATO crisis management exercise.

    2010:  Ireland starts offering courses to international personnel in improvised explosive device disposal.

    2011:  Ireland participates as observer in annual exercise Cyber Coalition.

    2012:   Ireland participates as observer in annual exercise Cyber Coalition.

    February 2013:  Anders Fogh Rasmussen becomes the first NATO Secretary General to visit Ireland. He discusses current cooperation and the potential for strengthening ties between NATO and Ireland with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Defence Minister Alan Shatter. He also attends an informal meeting of European Union defence ministers in Dublin.

    January 2015:  Following the completion of the ISAF operation in Afghanistan in December 2014, Ireland starts contributing to the follow-on NATO-led mission (“Resolute Support”) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions.