Northern Ireland

Royal Irish Regiment not to return to Afghanistan for final tour

The Royal Irish Regiment is not to return to Afghanistan for a final tour before the withdrawal of combat troops at the end of next year.

One Royal Irish had been training with the expectation of returning to Helmand province in April.

However, a list of the units released by the Ministry of Defence does not include the largely Irish-recruited regiment.

The new deployment will be made up from troops from a range of regiments.

These include the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Rifles.

During its last tour in Afghanistan, two years ago, three soldiers from the Shropshire-based Royal Irish Regiment were killed in its last deployment to the Nad e Ali district.

Meanwhile, Irish defence minister Alan Shatter confirmed on Wednesday that 18 Royal Irish soldiers are going to Mali along with eight from the Irish Defence Forces as part of a European Union training mission.