NATO’s relations with Ireland

  • Last updated: 26 Oct. 2015 14:42

NATO’s relations with Ireland are conducted through the Partnership for Peace framework, which Ireland joined in 1999. NATO and Ireland actively cooperate on humanitarian, rescue, peacekeeping and crisis management and have developed practical cooperation in a range of other areas, as provided for in Ireland’s Individual Partnership Programme (IPP).

NATO highly values its relations with Ireland. The Allies view Ireland as an effective and pro-active partner and contributor to international security, which shares key values such as the promotion of international security, democracy and human rights. 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 UN mandate, a government decision and parliamentary approval. From this basis Ireland selects areas of cooperation with NATO that match joint objectives.

Ireland’s participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) has focused on enhancing the interoperability of its armed forces and its capacity to participate in multinational crisis-response operations.

Ireland is currently contributing to the NATO-led peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan. In the past, it supported the NATO-led operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • 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.

  • 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 (MNTF-C) from 2007 to 2008. Currently, 12 personnel are deployed as part of KFOR.

    Since 2002 Ireland has also been providing staff officers and non-commissioned officers for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Currently, 7 personnel are deployed as part of ISAF.

    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 Irelands’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 Partnership Trust Fund projects. The include projects partner countries. for 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.

    Public information

    In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Ireland is the embassy of  the Netherlands.

  • 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.
    Irish forces participate in the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
    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.
    Ireland participates in Cooperative Safeguard 2002, a humanitarian exercise, in Iceland.
    2005 Ireland, along with several other Allies and partners, responds to the request from the United States for assistance to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
    2007-2008 Ireland commands MNTF-C in Kosovo.
    2008 Ireland participates in Crisis Management Exercise (CMX 2008).
    2010 Ireland starts offering courses to international personnel in improvised explosive device disposal.
    2011 Ireland participates as observer in Cyber Coalition 2011.

    Ireland participates as observer in Cyber Coalition 2012.


    In February, 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.