THE IRISH Government has been urged to get "boots on the ground" in Afghanistan in order to help dozens of Irish national escape the Taliban.
Former Army ranger Cathal Berry has told Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney that the Government needs to deploy an elite force of Irish troops to Kabul airport in order to secure the freedom of the Irish citizens still trapped there.
"The big problem with the Irish evacuation effort is that we have nobody on the ground in Kabul airport. It’s impossible to coordinate a complex, multi-national rescue from an Irish embassy in Abu Dhabi some 2,000 miles away," said Mr Berry.
"It’s absolutely critical that we get Irish representatives onto that runway as soon as possible, and our special forces troops are the obvious choice as with a small team they can simultaneously provide security, communications, medical support and a liaison function."
It's understood that around 40 Irish nationals were in Kabul when the Taliban seized control just over a week ago.
Eight of them have since been evacuated but more than 30 - including 11 children - are still in need of rescue.
Kabul airport was plunged into chaos last week as thousands of people scrambled to flee the advancing Taliban, trying to find a way out of the country.
The US military is still in control of the airport but the situation is anything but stable.
"Multi-national evacuation operations can only proceed in good order if there is effective local liaison on the ground," added Mr Berry.
"Note how the UK commander in Kabul has been given much greater latitude to carry out his mission than his American counterpart. Consequently, UK forces are outperforming.
"Boots on the ground are your eyes and ears. They could communicate back to Dublin in real-time, thereby providing proper situational awareness to national decision-makers."