I conveyed the deep concern of the Government about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a number of occasions recently. I assure the Deputy that a lasting resolution to the conflict in that country will continue to be an important aim of the Government, particularly during Ireland's Presidency of the EU next year. The situation in Bunia has stabilised following the start of the EU-led Operation Artemis, to which Ireland will contribute four Army officers based at operational and force headquarters. I welcome the news that agreement has been reached in Kinshasa on an interim Government to lead the country into elections. I am extremely concerned, however, at the movement of rebel troops in the north Kivu area in the east of the country, particularly as it has the potential to further destabilise the area.
Ireland has always sought to highlight the grave problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at international fora. During our membership of the UN Security Council, we took part in Security Council missions to the Great Lakes region in 2001 and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002. We were strong advocates of the inter-Congolese dialogue, to which we contributed €127,000. We have used bilateral meetings with southern African countries to discuss ways in which regional and international pressure can be used to push for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As a development partner, we have conveyed to the Ugandan Government on a number of occasions our concern at its involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and our view that full implementation of the Lusaka Agreement by all parties is the most viable solution to the conflict. We have also made our views known to the Governments of Rwanda and other African countries that have been involved in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.