Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Deaths of UN Soldiers.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps which have been taken to protest to the Iranian and Syrian Governments in relation to the untimely death of members of the Defence Forces on United Nations service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Government have conveyed their concern about the deaths of members of the Defence Forces while serving with the UN in the Middle East to a number of countries with interests and influence in the area, including the two mentioned by the Deputy in his question. Protests have been made by Ireland and by the United Nations to states whose actions or omissions demonstrably contribute to causing the death or injury of members of the Irish Defence Forces. In a number of cases, including the most recent outrage resulting in the deaths of three Irish members of UNIFIL, responsibility has not yet been established. The investigation in that case is continuing. I can assure the Deputy that the Government will make a strong protest to the Government of any state shown to have links to the incident.

Would the Minister of State comment on the suggestion made to me that as our Government protest was made directly to the Israeli Government it has now been suggested that that could have been done deliberately to create the impression that the Israelis were responsible and that those responsible could have connections with the two countries mentioned in my question, Syria and Iran? Would the Minister of State like to comment on that?

The Government will continue to make their position clear to the Israeli authorities, or indeed any other authorities who may be responsible for attacks on Irish UNIFIL troops, of the total unacceptability to us of their failure to comply with UN Security Council Resolutions which require them to withdraw from Southern Lebanon and of their continued support for the South Lebanese Army who were responsible for the death of Private McNeela and for the latest incident at Tibnin. While waiting the outcome of the current United Nation's investigations, additional security measures are being taken to ensure the safety of Irish personnel serving with UNIFIL. As I have said, our Government will make strong protests to any state whose actions or omissions demonstrably contribute to attacks on Irish troops.

Following the report of the Minister for Defence to the Cabinet, can the Minister of State say that the two countries referred to in my question were not connected either directly or indirectly with the deaths of Irish troops?

It is not possible to say precisely who was responsible for the incidents the Deputy mentions.

That ends Question Time for today. We now proceed to the Order of Business.