Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Proposed UN School for Defence Forces.

Mary Harney

Question:

12 Miss Harney asked the Minister for Defence the progress, if any, that has been made on the establishment of a UN school in the Defence Forces.

Planning in relation to the proposed UN school is still at a preliminary stage. No details as to the final format of the school are yet available.

As news of the UN school is new to me, can the Minister outline precisely what is intended here?

The proposed UN school will be contained within the existing infrastructure of the Military College and for that reason would entail very little extra cost. It is basically to complement our peacekeeping training needs. At present there is a need for a central institution to study and devise the training programmes, to conduct and specifically design peacekeeping training, to study the operational implications of various UN mandates and analyse the training required to ensure that our troops in peacekeeping operations are properly prepared to fulfil the requirements of the specific mandate. That is basically what would be involved.

Is it intended to make this school available to members of Defence Forces outside this country? The original intention of the then Deputy Taylor-Quinn, who proposed the setting up of such a school, was that in view of the important role Ireland played in the past and will play in the future on UN missions and the experience we have gained in that regard, we should pass on that experience to others. There is no reason we cannot develop that concept and provide adequate training for members of the Defence Forces from various parts of the world. I refer the Minister to a document published by Boutros Boutros Ghali in which he pointed out that it was necessary to train troops in peace enforcement before taking on that important role.

I agree with the Deputy in relation to allowing members of Defence Forces from other countries to participate in this school. There is no objection in principle to that. In fact, we have much to offer other countries in regard to showing the way in relation to peace keeping skills, that has been recognised by the fact that our Defence Forces received a Nobel prize for peace keeping. I assure the Deputy that there will be no problem in regard to that matter.

As we have already touched on the question of peace enforcement, will the Minister indicate whether this school will deal with that area or will it be necessary for Irish troops to go elsewhere for peace enforcement training, given that their expertise is in the peace keeping — not the peace enforcement — area?

It will not be necessary for our troops to go elsewhere for peace enforcement training. There will be appropriate training courses under the UN mandate when the school is set up.

Will the school deal with the political issues that might arise or be the cause of conflicts with which Irish troops might have to cope in any given UN mission?

Background information in regard to the history of a conflict will be provided and incorporated in the curriculum.