Written Answers. - An Slua Muirí.

17.

asked the Minister for Defence the total number involved with An Slua Muirí and the budget available to them in each of the years 1980 to 1986, inclusive; his proposals for 1987; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The strength of An Slua Muirí as at 30 November each year was: 1980, 434; 1981, 417; 1982, 411; 1983, 357; 1984, 408; 1985, 413; 1986, 420. Amounts paid in each year in respect of pay and allowances, grant in aid, transport, mileage, messing and uniforms as follows: 1980, £90,300; 1981, £112,000; 1982, £73,300; 1983, £43,800; 1984, £51,100; 1985, £77,100; 1986 (to date), £59,700.

In 1987 it is proposed (1) to continue the programme for the purchase of road trailers for sailing/rowing craft, (2) to purchase a comprehensive supply of spare parts for the sailing/rowing craft, (3) to continue the ongoing programme of updating equipment on Slua Muirí sail training yachts, (4) to run courses in basic and advanced fire-fighting for each Slua Muirí company.

18.

asked the Minister for Defence the reasons both himself and the Chief of Staff will visit the Lebanon together later this year; the arrangements being made for this trip; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Commencing on 8 December 1986 I intend to make an official visit, extending over a period of seven days, to the Irish contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and to Irish personnel serving with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in Israel. I will be accompanied by the Secretary, Department of Defence, and the Chief of Staff.

The purpose of my visit is to see at first hand the conditions under which Irish troops are currently required to operate in South Lebanon and to assess the overall position, particularly in regard to the safety and welfare of Irish personnel.

I also intend to avail of the opportunity to meet my political counterpart in the Israeli Government.