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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 1 Jul 1993

Vol. 137 No. 5

Defence (Amendment) Bill, 1993: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I wish to remind Senators that spokespersons have 30 minutes and all other speakers have 15 minutes. Tá fáilte romhat chuig an Teach.

Táim buíoch don fháilte a cuireadh romham. I will deal with the Bill in headings and paragraphs for ease of reference and I hope it will be of advantage in this important debate. It is always a pleasure to be here and I would like to think I will still be in that frame of mind at the end of this debate.

The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to amend and extend the Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1960 — the legislation currently governing the despatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force outside the State as part of United Nations International Forces. The 1960 Act defines such a force as an international force or body established for the performance of duties of a police character. The removal of this restriction — necessary to permit participation in UNOSOM II — is the only material change to the 1960 Act. The Bill provides that personnel who enlisted in the Defence Forces before the change in legislation takes effect will not be liable for service in the broader role unless they offer in writing to do so and the offer has been accepted. Effectively I am saying that, in the context of this legislation, people will be volunteering rather than being ordered. That is the point I am making at this juncture.

While the Bill, if enacted, will constitute enabling legislation only and makes no specific reference to any particular mission, Senators will be aware that the Government have indicated their support for a request from the UN to supply personnel for service with the second UN Operation in Somalia — UNOSOM II. This mission has a broader mandate than any in which Irish troops have previously served and a change in the legislation is required to permit Irish participation.

A number of issues have been raised in the course of the public debate on the proposal to sent Irish troops to serve with UNOSOM II. There are legitimate concerns about the safety of Irish personnel in Somalia and about the wider consequences of the amendment for our future role in international peace keeping.

I would like to make it clear at the outset that the Government's support for participation in UNOSOM is based on the recognition of the need for the international community to take decisive action in response to the situation in Somalia.

The scale of the suffering endured by innocent men, women and children in Somalia amid scenes of utter and total despair has been vividly brought home to us by the news media. Pictures of gaunt figures ravaged by disease and lack of proper nourishment with no hope of survival moved the international community to come to their aid. This also moved our community to come to the aid of this land, as I described it previously, that God had effectively forgotten and that the international community had forgotten. However, the suffering of the people of Somalia is not caused by some natural disaster, it is a result of human conflict — a fact underlined when relief did arrive. The war lords of Somalia would not allow food to reach those in need. Law and order had collapsed and people were starving to death because, although food and medical supplies were available, supplies could not be distributed. It was against this background that the United Nations — the only body with the moral authority to address the crisis — intervened in Somalia.

When I visited Somalia for the first time as Minister for Foreign Affairs in August of last year and as the first ministerial representative of the European Community, the situation seemed beyond hope. At that time it was estimated that half the population of Somalia — approximately four million people — were either in immediate danger of death from starvation or seriously at risk. I accompanied the President on her visit last October, and that visit helped in no small measure to keep the plight of the Somali people in world focus and once again drew attention for an urgent and co-ordinated international response.

The United Nations responded by authorising UNITAF, a multinational force initially established under US command, to deploy in southern and central Somalia. It has now been replaced by UNOSOM II which is deploying throughout the country. UNOSOM is working to ensure that the Somali people can live in peace and security and that the various aid agencies, including the Irish overseas agencies, can carry out their work. Recent events have only served to reinforce the importance of UNOSOM II. Our support for UNOSOM II is bolstered by the certain knowledge that the alternative to UN action is a return to the nightmare of 1992.

UNOSOM II will consist of approximately 28,000 troops drawn from 32 countries and its mandate, which covers the whole territory of Somalia, includes enforcement powers in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Its mission will be to monitor that all factions maintain respect for the cease-fire, to prevent the resumption of violence, to maintain control of heavy weapons, to seize unauthorised small arms, to secure ports, airports and lines of communication, to protect UN, Red Cross and NGO personnel and facilities, to continue the demining programme and to assist in the repatriation of refugees.

The Irish Government have been requested to furnish UNOSOM II with a transport company which will consist of six officers, 23 NCOs and 51 privates. These personnel will operate a fleet of 30 transport vehicles and will be mainly employed in transporting supplies for UNOSOM. The personnel of the company are all volunteers and, collectively, the unit has extensive experience of previous UN missions. The contingent has undergone intensive training and has been organised to achieve maximum self-sufficiency, for example, it will bring its own catering and medical facilities. Personnel will be issued with small arms and other weapons appropriate for self-defence, although when moving in convoy in the transport role, armed escorts will be provided by other contingents. Irish personnel will not be involved directly in military operations.

I would like to give the Seanad an account of my recent visit to Somalia. Recent events in Mogadishu gave rise to heightened concern about Irish participation in UNOSOM. To ascertain the situation on the ground, I travelled to Somalia last weekend in the company of senior military officers. On Saturday, in Mogadishu, I met with Admiral Jonathan Howe, the Special Representative of the Security Council in Somalia and with General Thomas Montgomery the Deputy Force Commander of UNOSOM. I also met with representatives of the Irish aid agencies in Mogadishu and Baidoa. The military officers accompanying me also had discussions with senior staff officers in UNOSOM Headquarters in Mogadishu.

At present, while the situation in south Mogadishu, the stronghold of General Aideed, remains very tense, in the rest of the country conditions are, by comparison, relatively calm. I was informed that the Irish contingent will be kept together as a unit and co-located in Baidoa with a larger unit. I then flew to Baidoa and visited the French contingent which took up duty several weeks ago. I also met with the Irish aid workers and with local communtiy leaders. The military officers accompanying me had detailed discussions with officers of the French contingent concerning the precise arrangements for Irish personnel.

I have seen the situation at first hand on three occasions, most recently over the last weekend. Obviously, nobody can give any absolute assurances about the future or about safety. All UN missions carry an inherent risk. The tragic death of the Irish aid worker Valerie Place indicates that not even civilians engaged in humanitarian work are safe in Somalia, but I can give this assurance that, based in Baidoa, everything possible is being done to ensure the safety of our troops. In addition, I can give these assurances to them and, most importantly, to the loyal and supportive families, they at home, that the Irish contingent will be among the most experienced and best trained in UNOSOM II, that nothing has been spared in preparing and equipping them for their tasks, that they will be located in the relatively quiet region of Baidoa, that we have established a good rapport with the French combat troops in the area and that the senior military advice is unequivocally in favour of participation in the mission. In so far as it is humanly possible, therefore, we have done everything to ensure the safety of our troops while serving in Somalia. These are assurances, they are not absolute guarantees.

I also believe that the arrival of our troops will be welcomed by their colleagues of other nationalities in the UN contingent. Over more than 30 years, we have built up an enormous reservoir of experience in United Nations work. Although we may be small in numbers in the overall contingent, I believe that the arrival of the Irish contingent will bring a "leavening" of experience, including an unique ability to relate to the local people, that will be to the overall benefit of the UN operation in Somalia. Taken with the respect in which our NGOs are already held and the memory of President Robinson's role in stimulating international action on Somalia, our troops will be a very powerful force for good and peace.

Humanitarian aid to a country like Somalia is, at its best, a co-operative effort; so, too, is United Nations involvement. Our troops will be part of a 28,000 strong force of Americans, French, Canadians, Italians, Pakistanis and other nationalities. One of their primary tasks will be the defence and protection of the aid workers there — Irish, Dutch, French, American and other nationalities. The UNOSOM mandate makes this clear when it refers to the protection of "UN, Red Cross and NGO personnel and facilities and to take such forceful action as may be required against attacks on them". Therefore, in providing transport and logistical support to the infantry brigades of the UN Force, our troops will be making the most effective contribution possible to the safety of our aid workers.

We sometimes see references to our "going to Somalia". My response is that we are already in Somalia. We are there through the work of GOAL, Concern and Trócaire. We strengthened those links through the visits of President Robinson and myself and our work at the United Nations. The humanitarian effort there is a major part of Government policy, widely supported by our people. Participating now in UNOSOM II is simply rounding off an already significant involvement under other headings.

The Irish people have responded humanely and generously to the cry for help from Somalia and actively support our participation in UNOSOM II. I believe public opinion would be critical of a refusal to participate in this force. The people of Somalia need help and protection and they need that help and protection now. Should we choose to stand on the sidelines under the pretence of adopting a principled stand, the other 31 contributing countries will go ahead and Ireland's credibility as a UN member and as a champion of the Third World will be undermined. To preach to others about what should be done or who should do it would be an evasion of our responsibilities as a sovereign State and a member of the United Nations. Our actions must match our concerns. Otherwise we would be shying away from our obligations to our fellow human beings.

Before concluding, I would like to give a brief explanation of the sections of the Bill. The five sections of the Defence (Amendment) Bill, 1993, provide for the amendment and extension of the Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1960, the legislation which currently governs the despatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force for service with United Nations International Forces.

Section 1 of the Bill provides for definitions. The definition of an International United Nations Force is amended so that it will no longer be confined to a force established for the performance of duties of a police character only. I believe this is the single most important provision in the proposed legislation.

Section 2 provides that automatic liability for service with a United Nations International Force will be confined to personnel joining the Defence Forces on or after the date of the passing of the Act. Personnel who are serving at present will become liable for service only if they volunteer.

Section 3 provides that various provisions of the 1960 Act will also apply to personnel serving with United Nations Forces as defined in the new legislation. This section provides that the requirement in the 1960 Act for Dáil approval before 12 or more armed members of the Permanent Defence Force are sent overseas for service with a United Nations Force will remain. The section also applies the provisions of the 1960 Act regarding personnel on active service and registration of births and deaths outside the State to a United Nations Force as it will not be defined

Section 4 provides for an annual report on Irish participation in International United Nations Forces in the preceding year. This was in response to an Opposition amendment in the Dáil proposed by Deputy Barrett and to a lesser extent, by Deputy Clohessy. Deputy Barrett proposed a 12 monthly review period while Deputy Clohessy proposed six months. I took the principles involved in both amendments together and encapsulated them in the proposed legislation before this House. I believe the amendment to be good and progressive and it is appropriate that the spirit of it has been accepted by the Government. It has been worded in consultation with the parliamentary draftsman.

It is important to note that in addition to the annual review, and while the Seanad is not necessarily represented on it, the Select Committee on Legislation and Security is another forum where the Minister of the day would be accountable to a committee of the Oireachtas regarding legislation such as this and to other matters relating to the Department of Defence. Furthermore, there are other mechanisms available to review this kind of legislation — such as parliamentary questions, the annual discussion on the Estimate of the Department of Defence, Questions on the Adjournment and Adjournment Matters.

Section 5 provides for the Short Title of the Bill, collective citation and construction and is self-explanatory.

I commend the Bill to House

I welcome the Minister to the House. I welcome this Bill. In dealing with this Bill one has to take a broad look at our record of participation with the UN over the years. Prior to 1958, when a group of officers took up duty with an observer group in the Lebanon, our involvement was of an unarmed nature. The role of the UN has changed dramatically in the last five years due to major changes across the world since the end of the Cold War. UN participation in countries' internal problems has more and more become a major part of its agenda, and this begs questions as to how far the UN should become involved in internal matters. We do not have to go too far to find an example because in the background there is always the question of whether UN involvement in the tragedy on our own island would be justified. It is something that politicians and Irish Governments have to bear in mind when we speak of tragedies at international level. There are various forms of tragedy and human misery which do not always occur in the context of famine. It is fair to say that on this island there is, and has been, a human tragedy of enormous proportions.

As regards the present situation and the need for this change in the Defence Act, one has to consider the background to the situation in Somalia. The Minister has played a major role in highlighting the misery and tragedy of that country. He has been there on three occasions and in no small way his participation, interest and presentation of the facts of the tragedy have led to a major UN operation. It is no harm to point out that while our Army will contribute 80 personnel, Somalia is a major operation involving 28,000 people. The reason for this large involvement is the extent of the tragedy.

We are aware from television reports of the enormous human misery that was in Somalia, and that efforts by the UN up to that stage were not sufficient to relieve the famine. Even though provisions had arrived in the country the aid groups were unable to get it to the people because the warlords and their people were attacking and seizing these provisions. It was that situation that led to UN involvement on a much bigger scale. The bigger the involvement the bigger the risks because one must always be aware that an outside force, even the UN, in any country may not always be acceptable, especially in a country which to all intents and purposes seems to be ungovernable due to the system that prevailed there in the past. It is difficult to see at this stage a short term hope of order and a form of democracy as we would know it in this part of the world. It is safe to say that there will be an extensive time involvement for the UN in Somalia.

One has to look, however, at the positive side of the argument, that is that a great deal of relief has been provided and progress has been made recently in Somalia. Peace has been restored to a certain extent and, as the Minister said, since his last visit there the distribution of food supplies is improving and human misery is on the wane. This must be welcomed by all decent people across the world. It is also noteworthy that over 20 countries are involved in this operation, sending personnel varying from a few thousand to small numbers such as our own contingent. However, our participation on the transport end is a significant part of the overall operation. There is no doubt that this participation does carry risks, something to which members of all armies are subject, especially on an operation of this scale.

I see from the UN Charter in Somalia that part of the UN's role is to monitor all factions to see if they are respecting the cease-fire. This, of course, is not always easy to ensure, and in recent weeks tragedies involving UN personnel and Somali natives have increased worries here and elsewhere.

It was in that light that the Minister rightly revisited Somalia to satisfy himself that conditions were, as far as possible, reasonable to allow our troops to participate in this operation. I have no doubt that our troops have been preparing for this operation for a number of months now. I have every confidence in the Irish Army and I am confident that all that could be done from this side and within the UN has been done.

We have Irish aid workers in Somalia. We are all aware of the tragic death of Valerie Place but that was one of the incidents which, brought home to countries like Ireland the scale of the problem and what people working for these aid organisations are prepared to do to relieve the misery suffered by the people in Somalia. Given the volatile situation within that country it was inevitable that such tragic incidents would occur if matters were to improve and the enormous human misery was to be relieved. The prospect of that situation continuing and almost half the population being wiped out was horrific. The UN must be complimented on its efforts in that regard. As I said earlier, it is unfortunate that the incidents of the last few weeks took place but they, to a certain extent, are part of the problem of trying to restore order and to relieve misery in those conditions.

I note that on a peace-keeping operation the use of force is limited to self-defence. Peace enforcement is mandated under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and troops are authorised to take the initiative in the use of force. The principal duty of the Irish transport company will be the delivery of supplies of military components to the operation. Any operation of an enforcement nature will be the task of the operational forces. In carrying out its role, the Irish transport company will have greater latitude with regard to the use of weapons and will not be limited to the very narrow concept of self-defence. The principle of minimum force applies.

Our Army has a very fine record with the UN over the years and this is a continuation of that although the scale of the operation is different from anything that is has been involved in heretofore. Demands are now being made on the UN to play a police role in a rapidly changing world. An operation of this kind provides an opportuntity to organise troops on a unit basis and to carry out unit training, both staff and field, which is difficult to organise at home. It also makes us aware of the strength and weakness of our own and other troops. Staff are exercised in air transport procedures and leadership opportunities arise which are not normally met on home service. Overseas service is also an attraction to Army personnel. It gives them a feeling of being appreciated and of doing a job of international significance.

Over the years Ireland has built up a fine reputation in the area of international peace-keeping and a considerable volume of international goodwill has followed. This is fostered by our continued participation in UN operations. As the Minister said, when the request came Ireland answered the call. I do not entirely agree that, because we have participated in peace-keeping operations up to now and have been vocal on Somalia, we should have answered the call. It is important to point out that the reason for our participation was that the Army authorities were satisfied that we had the necessary skills, training and equipment and confidence to do the job and it was probably on those grounds that the Government made the final decision.

We must always be slow to participate in operations of this scale and to look at each individual demand on its merits. As I said, when it comes to internal troubles, the involvement of an outside force may not be acceptable. If the UN gets involved it can be extremely difficult to withdraw. However the scale of the problem in Somalia was so vast and horrific that the scaling up of the UN operation was necessary. When Ireland was asked to participate the Government and the Army proceeded in the proper manner. From our point of view the operations seems to have been well organised and well planned, and I have every confidence that our troops will once again do this country proud. I would also like to see a development on the political front if that is possible given the current situation but it may not be easy to put a political system in place. However, the first priority is to save human life and relieve suffering and misery. I wish the troops who are going to Somalia good luck.

I have a particular interest in the Army. There are barracks in Longford, Athlone and Mullingar and the Army presence in the Midlands has always been real and extensive. The Army has given much to the life of the Midlands over the years. Army personnel have always provided a great boost and given every assistance to sport and other aspects of Irish life. We have always been proud of the Army and its role. Its participation in operations at international level has added to its image at national level. I renew my congratulations to the Minister for his efforts when he highlighted the tragedy of the people of Somalia.

I am glad the Minister accepted an amendment in the Dáil providing that a review of our operations abroad will take place every 12 months. This is welcome and lends openness to participation because the families of Army personnel are always anxious when our Army are involved in UN operations and we, as public representatives, also like to be informed of what is happening. I have every confidence in the Army.

There is one point to which the Minister might reply. During some operations in the past, concern was expressed about insurance cover for Army personnel. How does the fact that we are now dealing with peace enforcement affect the insurance of Army personnel? I thank the Minister and his staff for their participation.

The proposal to extend and amend the Defence Act, 1960, is an historic and timely proposal, I support it. The changes taking place in the international scene in light of the end of the Cold War and the enormous problems facing the international community demand that the fullest support be given to the United Nations. We, in Ireland, must reaffirm our commitment to working with the United Nations in helping to tackle and resolve these problems. For 50 years the threat of nuclear war and nuclear destruction, to a large extent, dominated the discussion and activities of the United Nations. The demise of communisim and the breakdown of barriers in many European countries has brought a new dimension of ethnic, cultural and religious antagonism, it requires an appraisal of the activities of the United Nations and a deeper examination of how its operation can be made more successful.

If one looks at the present international situation, one will see poverty, disease and famine in many countries, 17 million refugees, 20 million displaced persons and large migration within and beyond national boundaries. The highest priority must be given to the work of the United Nations and full attention must be given to the effort to make the United Nations more responsive to some of the issues facing the international community so that they can be dealt with speedily and effectively.

To a large extent, the United Nations was taken by suprise by the changes which took place following the demise of communism and the breakdown of the barriers in many European countries. These changes have led to chaos in places such as Yugoslavia where there seems to be no end to the death and destruction that has been developing there for some time.

Since the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, some 20 million people have died in over 100 conflicts. This brings home the urgency and necessity for us to be as supportive as we have been in the past of the work which has been done by the United Nations. We must be prepared to continue to contribute towards the goals of the United Nations which are the maintenance of international peace and security and, in the words of the United Nations Charter, promoting social progress and better standards of life and larger freedom.

We have played our part since we first sent Irish personnel to Lebanon in 1958. I would like to avail of this opportunity to put on record our deep appreciation of the many Irish personnel who have served with distinction in the United Nations since we first sent a mission to the United Nations. The Army personnel have served in many difficult and complex areas. Their presence has saved thousands of lives. At present despite harassment from the SLA in South Lebanon, Irish personnel are working in harmony with local communities establishing peace and tranquility and developing the humanitarian aspects of their work.

I had the opportunity to visit the personnel in Lebanon and was impressed not just by their commitment and dedication but by the volume of comment from the leaders of the communities in Lebanon. In village after village, they came out to make their views known and to say that they respected and valued the Irish presence in Lebanon and that they wanted it to continue. They also wanted the authorities here and the people of Ireland to know that the people in Lebanon were grateful and appreciated the work and effort being made in helping to stave off the tragedy that has been the Lebanon. Thousands of people have been killed in an inexplicable war which is difficult to resolve even at the present time.

We also owe a special debt of gratitude to the families of the personnel who have served overseas. It is an anxious time for all the families. While people are relatively secure, they are away from home for long periods and they have families at home who need to be taken care of. The families make a silent contribution to these developments because they endure constant concern, worry and anxiety about their family members overseas. It is important that we would not forget this in discussing legislation such as this.

We must uphold and strengthen the role of the United Nations and be prepared to continue to make our contribution and demonstrate that we support the policy we followed in relation to Somalia itself. There has been an increase in the volume of activity in which the United Nations is involved. In 1987, there were fewer than 10,000 deployed in United Nations peace-keeping efforts; today, the number deployed is over 80,000 and will probably be in excess of 100,000 if this new contingent is proceeded with fully. In the course of 40 years there were about 12 or 13 peace missions and in the past five years, 13 new missions have been deployed. This gives an indication of the gravity and increased difficulty in trouble spots which need to be monitored, and this requires our constant attention.

Our people have served with distinction in the past and I have no doubt that they will make a meaningful and worthwhile contribution to the peace effort in Somalia and that they will have got the same goodwill that Irish troops get everywhere. Irish troops have not had the unhappy experiences of some of our partners in the Community and members states of the United Nations. Our personnel would be more acceptable than those from other countries and would be able to do valuable work, in harmony with their colleagues, for the UN effort.

At this stage, I would like to briefly refer to Somalia, which has already been discussed in this House, and to pay tribute to the Minister for the contribution he made during his time as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I wish to put on record that he was the first EC Minister to visit Somalia and he highlighted internationally the necessity for urgency in dealing with the problem there. At the time the Minister visited Somalia, the international community was not fully aware of the gravity of the problem and was not prepared to commit the necessary financial and human resources to deal with the deteriorating situation. If the UN had acted more speedily and efficiently, thousands of lives could have been saved.

The efforts of the Minister in highlighting the issue in international fora — at the UN headquarters and in the EC — resulted in the establishment of UNOSOM I in 1992 and UNITAF, which was mainly supported by the United States. It has been argued that had the United States been more active, UNITAF could have secured a better framework for developments in Somalia, which may have helped to avoid the later devastation. However, there is no point going back over this argument. While UNITAF did succeed in calming down the region and enabled some sense of normality and basic infrastructural needs, such as water supply, to be restored, UNOSOM II must be established to continue this effort. The UN mandate which calls for an end to the fighting, assisting in the rebuilding of the country and the establishment of democratic Government to reflect the wishes of the Somali population, should be pursued.

Our personnel can make a worthwhile effort in that regard and I support this Bill, in so far as it refers to the Government proposal to send a contingent o Army personnel to Somalia. I wish the Minister success in finding solutions to many of the problems currently causing such distress in the international community and I compliment him and his staff for the magnificent work in helping to restore peace and tranquility to many troubled regions.

I support the Bill on the grounds of the general principle which have been so effectively enunciated by Senator Daly, concerning the conduct of our foreign policy and I will not take up the time of this House by repeating what he said in that respect. I also compliment the Minister for his contribution to our understanding of the problems in Somalia and the attempts being made to alleviate them. No one among our political classes has earned the right to speak on this issue as much as the Minister and I, for one, would be happy to support his judgment on the situation there.

It is impossible to adequately assess the risk and circumstances may be more dangerous than one can anticipate. However, if the risk has not been completely foreseen and circumstances should change for the worse, we should support this Bill on the principle as stated by the Minister. "To preach to others about what should be done or who should do it would be an evasion of our responsibilities as a sovereign State and a member of the UN." That is a basic statement of principle which should govern our general conduct of foreign policy. My only reservation is with the paragraphs dealing with public support for Somalia rather than discussing the principles in themselves.

Public opinion is fickle and although it has done itself proud on Somalia, it could change. Irrespective of public opinion, I support that basic statement of principle in all conceivable circumstances which is entitled to stand on its own, as distinct from simply reflecting public opinion if we did not act in a certain way.

We have a noble record in foreign policy in general, especially in our relations and service with the UN but we also have our fair share of preachers and posturers. Since this Bill will reduce, to some extent, the gap between posture and performance, I am happy to support it both in terms of Somalia and on the grounds of general principles of foreign policy.

I acknowledge the Minister's work in Somalia as referred to by Senator Daly. All Senators, irrespective of political affiliations, were full of admiration for the stand he took, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, in highlighting the enormous human tragedy there. The Minister, with the President, greatly assisted in bringing the issue to the attention of the world.

When discussing this Bill, one must remember that there is a chance that some members of our Defence Forces may die. They have died on UN peace-keeping duties in other countries in the past and are now being asked to go from purely police action to taking the initiative. Although the Minister has said in this House and in the Dáil, that there are no guarantees — I am certain the Department and the Army chiefs fully understand that as well — when we commit soldiers to an operation like this we as public representatives must be fully aware that we are sending our soldiers to Somalia and that there is the possibility that some of them may be injured or killed in the line of duty.

It is ironic that the end of the Cold War has destabilised countries to such an extent that the previous balance of terror, which kept many countries in line, is no longer the benchmark by which they seem to operate. The Berlin and Cuban crises were kept from developing into war by the influence of the super powers. Both ourselves and the UN are now entering a new era in terms of world politics. The post-Cold War world needs a new peace-making force, but it should operate on a professional footing. There are only a few countries which are acceptable in this role and, thankfully, Ireland is one of them.

The Minister said our troops will be well equipped and adequately trained for the task ahead of them but there is a disorganisation about UN operations in terms of the use of multinational forces and this is not good. This must be addressed, perhaps by us in our role as a member of the UN. There appears to be no permanent command in the UN where multinational forces have been combined in various situations.

We must not forget the role played by the Army in this country. They are the lonely people located along the Border and they are being kept there by fellow Irishmen and women. Furthermore, the Army is stationed at Portlaoise Prison protecting the State. One sees them on the streets each day guarding cash as it is transported from place to place, again from fellow Irishmen and women. People do not realise the amount of money these so-called patriots cost the State in terms of protecting ourselves against them and the Army does a considerable amount of work in this regard. However, this is neither the time nor the place to address this issue.

The history of the Army has been referred to by a number of speakers and it is one of which we are proud. The Army will fulfil the mission with which the Minister is about to charge them with distinction. The sight of trigger-happy warlords driving around Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia was an affront to human dignity and life. I am glad it will be no longer permissible for these trigger-happy louts to drive around in their jeeps — often stolen from overseas aid agencies — stealing and more importantly, prohibiting the movement of food. From now on it will no longer be possible to take a potshot at the blue helmet and walk away because the next time the UN troops may return fire.

I welcome the Bill and wish the contingent who will travel to Somali well. We respect, and will continue to respect, the Minister's role in Somalia.

I welcome the Minister to the House. We appreciate his efforts both in highlighting Somalia at international level and in alleviating suffering there. There has been criticism in the Dáil regarding the time given to debate this matter. However, the Leader of this House has shown commendable flexibility by giving adequate time to deal with issues raised.

The Progressive Democrats accept, as I am sure the Minister does, the need to be full and active members of the UN. We cannot be selective about our role in the UN. When the Security Council asks for assistance, we must be prepared to give it. This is not inconsistent with our neutrality; in fact, our neutrality could be of benefit in this regard. In difficult situations we could fulfil the role of honest brokers. Furthermore, we have a tradition which bears out that claim. Since 1958 our troops have served with distinction in different parts of the world and some have laid down their lives in the pursuit of peace. This reflects well on the Army and on this country. Our obligations to the UN and to the wider international community demand that we support this legislation.

The central issue is one of moving from a policing role to one of active participation, if that is the correct phrase to use. Given the need to participate fully in UN activities, it is important to ask how far down that road must we go. I believe we must go down that road and I am convinced the Army is prepared to do so without reservations.

I live and was brought up close to the Curragh, County Kildare and I am reasonably familiar with Army thinking and I know a number of Army personnel. It is important to record their contribution to society. Over the years, the Army has been actively involved in international matters and local community and voluntary organisations. It has made an enormous contribution to areas where camps and barracks are located. The Army has a distinguished record in this regard.

Questions have been raised in relation to peace enforcement as opposed to peace-keeping. There has been some disquiet about peace enforcement in the light of what was perceived to be an over vigorous response by Pakistani troops in Somalia. However, Irish troops will not be placed in a similar position. If our troops were in a similar position, they would behave with the restraint and responsibility they have always shown. To a certain extent, the Pakistani response was understandable because they had lost a large number of their contingent.

It is important to note, and the Minister outlined this in his Second Stage speech, that we are sending a transport group rather than front line troops. That is our role. Our troops will play a different role to that played by Pakistani troops. I accept that if placed in a similar situation our troops would behave with restraint and responsibility. There is something perverse about a situation where one must kill to show others they must not kill. That is a contradiction in human nature.

People join the Army to serve and they accept the responsibility as that entails, even when they wanted to establish organisations to represent them in the Army. There is a fundamental decency among members of the Army and they accept discipline and responsibility when they join. Although it is cause of concern, I support the provision in section 2 of the Bill where people will not have the option of volunteering. It is not a retrospective measure. Apparently only those who join from now on will be subject to this provision. They will join the Army in that knowledge and will accept military discipline.

It is important to select suitable people for such assignments. In other words, if we are asked to supply a transport group to a peace-keeping or peace enforcement force, those suitably qualified must be sent rather than asking for volunteers. We have never had a problem getting people to volunteer, but we may have had a problem getting the right people. That is why it is important that this provision is in the Bill and it is why I support it, even though I know there are representative elements within the Army who would say it should be otherwise. I believe this is the right thing to do.

They are being asked to fulfil a logistical role and the Minister has referred in his speech to the support system that will be in place. They will be supplied with light arms and when they leave barracks, for instance in convoy, they will probably be suplied with armour from other contries. Modern warfare — that is the word we should use in this context — is all about air cover. Troops on the ground are highly dependent on air cover which is the most effective way of protecting them. Is the Minister aware if air cover will be provided in Somalia to ensure the safety of our soldiers?

Our Army consists of highly trained professional soldiers. They have been in tricky situations in the past and they have acquitted themselves with distinction and honour and I am confident they will do so again in this case. If we look at our record in the Lebanon, we have a very good international standing within the military circles in which we have operated in the past. We are seen to be professional soldiers and it is known that we can into very sensitive areas and be impartial, even in the Lebanon where we have been under severe pressure and have lost people from incoming fire. We have shown that we can acquit ourselves well in these circumstances.

A wider issue which is relevant to this Bill is recruiting. We have reached the point where something must be done. I know of young people in my area who are anxious to join the Army, who would be very suitable but are unable to get in because we do not have the recruiting capacity. This needs to be rectified because there is a problem in terms of our peace-keeping capability and our efficiency in that the Force is getting progressively older. It has been suggested to me that the average age of a private soldier in the Irish Army is 31 years, which is very high by international standards. Given the conditions under which we might be asked to operate in very hot tropical climates or very arid hot climates — young people are required and I ask the Minister to do whatever he can at Cabinet level to ensure that the establishment level in the Army is maintained and that recruiting takes place.

It must also be said that the Army has helped enormously the society in which I live. People who might otherwise have not been model citizens have turned out to be extremely supportive of and active in community affairs as a result of their involvement in the Army. That is another reason it is desirable that if people wish to join the Army they should be able to do so. The Army is reached its limit in terms of its operational capacity, for example people who comes off duty having been on duty guarding money, etc., have to go back on duty immediately because there is not the personnel to fill the slots. That is not a desirable situation.

The Force must be mobile. I know the Minister is aware of this and there is no need to repeat it for his benefit but the Force must be mobile, it must be in a position to move quickly and effectively to where it is required. This may mean a degree of rationalisation within the Force, because it is reaching the point where it is becoming an administrative force. Too many talented people are tied up in the administration of the Army rather than in the exercise of its field capabilities. I realise that this rationalisation might entail moving the headquarters, and to be parochial about it, I know exactly where the headquarters should be. They should be at the Curragh. This is a sensible suggestion as the buildings are there, the space is there and the training facilities are based in the Curragh.

People have asked about the equipment aspect of the peace-keeping forces and whether they will be adequately equipped. I ask the Minister to comment on that when he replies to the Second Stage, but my information is that they are adequately equipped. Within the Force itself there are no reservations about their capability to defend and look after themselves. There is a risk involved in these activities and we would all find it very distressing if Irish soldiers were to come back in coffins. We do not want that to happen and the Minister does not want that to happen. That is why it is important that each operation should be subject to the scrutiny of the Dáil and Seanad. The Bill deals with those issues and the improvements made in the other House are welcome. The military people accept the risks, they joined the Force in the knowledge of the risks involved.

During the Gulf War, the families of soldiers who were in the Middle East were worried about their loved ones operating in an area which was removed from where the war took place. People consider the distance between Kuwait and the Lebanon to be equivalent to the distance between Galway and Dublin, and of course that is not the case. Nevertheless, those fears were there and the Army authorities dealt with them effectively. They consulted the families and showed them what was involved.

We must be careful if our soldiers become embroiled in an escalation of violence and warfare we can take them out quickly. To what extent are we confident that in the event that an evacuation, we can get them out easily and safely? I am not saying this would be necessary in Somalia, but I can envision certain circumstances where it would be required. That is a priority as far as I am concerned.

We must accept our responsibilities. Ireland is a member of the United Nations. The mandate should operate so that where requests are made by Security Council resolution we should agree to those requests. Our Army personnel are capable and willing to participate in the activities which this Bill envisages for them. For that reason, I have pleasure in supporting it.

I welcome the Minister to the House. It is nice to see a Minister in a portfolio in which he has deep personal interest, and we owe him — and President Robinson — our gratitude for highlighting this tragic situation in Somalia. They brought this issue on to the world stage. However, I was disappointed at the inactivity of the UN countries. They were slow in responding to a tragic situation. This has been a problem with the UN in the past in the sense that there are too many bodies politic involved in decision making. With the end of the Cold War era and super powers which were enemies coming closer together, the UN in years ahead might be able to react more rapidly to similar situations.

I recommend this Bill. I support the thrust of it because the world is but a stage where every country must play its part. Our part is integral in the sense that, since the foundation of the State, we have championed small nations. We have been very involved in humanitarian aid throughout the world and this augurs well for our standing on the international stage. Our commitment to the UN is second to none and the fact that the Security Council requested that Ireland send troops to Somalia is a reflection of the high esteem in which we are held by the UN and the world in general. People might be slightly concerned about the prospect of our troops being engaged in battle. The military personnel who accompanied the Minister having inspected the situation, are all satisfied that this will not happen. Admittedly all operations have an element of danger but it is important to minimise that aspect.

The UN has requested us to send troops to Somalia and we have responded. When President John F. Kennedy addressed the Dáil in 1963 — I do not believe there are any Members in the House who are old enough to have been present——

I missed it by two years.

——he praised us highly. This event was shown on television last Sunday night. His praise highlights the esteem in which Ireland is held and it proves that Ireland was always committed in this regard.

The world is changing and the UN must respond to these changes and we must review every request the UN makes. Most people are interested in the situation in Somalia. We lost an aid worker there and we have been involved in fund raising for Somalia, through voluntary organisations and in the distribution of humanitarian aid. The Government's decision to send troops to Somalia to protect our aid workers and to allow them to continue their work is an acknowledgement of the work our aid workers are doing.

I support this Bill which will augur well for Ireland's international standing. I am delighted to see certain sections in the Bill. They will be peace-keeping troops. The question of accountability was raised by other parties in a Dáil amendment which I am glad has been taken on board by the Minister. Bills such as this deserve the consensus of the House. Our troops are a symbol of our nation.

I support this Bill. I thank the Minister for his personal interest in the situation in Somalia and in many other humanitarian issues throughout his career. I wish the troops well and I hope there is a successful outcome to the problems in Somalia.

I welcome the Minister to the House. While I support the Bill, like other Members of the Oireachtas, I have some misgivings. I am anxious about our troops becoming involved in UN operations such as the Gulf War. While our proposals in relation to Somalia are different, we could find ourselves in a situation similar to the Gulf War. I hope our participation in such situations would be carefully considered by the Government of the day.

I am glad the Minister has introduced this Bill. As a member of the Irish Red Cross, particularly the overseas committee, I have had dealings with the Army. I cannot over-emphasise the fact that Irish people are acceptable on overseas missions. The people we sent abroad are so adaptable and co-operative that it makes ones proud of this country. They make incredible contributions in many parts of the world. That is why, as Senator Dardis said, our Army has been so stretched. As the Minister knows, they have been greatly appreciated in the peace-keeping areas they have visited.

I am glad the Army is going to Somalia because we have already lost one aid worker there. It is unfair of us to expect other troops to protect our aid workers when we do not feel we should send our own. Despite my reservations, I welcome the Bill. Not only is the Army protecting our aid workers but it is of tremendous importance in multinational peace-keeping and peace-enforcing operations because of the acceptability of Irish people on overseas work.

I welcome the Bill and the Minister to the House. I am pleased the Minister is with us in spite of the fact that he has suffered an injury.

The Minister, Deputy Andrews, while he was Minister for Foreign Affairs, did something unique. He extended the boundaries for the operations of our Minister for Foreign Affairs. He visited Somalia and later our President visited it in his company. As representatives of a neutral nation, they helped to bring the horror of the situation to the forefront of world public and political debate. I commend the Minister for this. It was a courageous effort, but then the Minister has done many courageous things in his long and distinguished political career.

When I was in the other House, it was a great privilege to serve with him for a time on an ad hoc committee which was seeking justice in another place. I commend the Minister on this Bill and on his actions. I also commend the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy T. Kitt, and the President who have all played a unique role in drawing world attention to the horrors in Somalia and the Sudan.

Ireland is in a unique position with regard to peace-keeping and peacemaking. We are a neutral nation, an EC member state and one of the few developed nations which has never been a colonial power or had any association with colonialism. However, until recently, we were, and part of the country still is, in a colonial situation. We have a unique legacy and that puts us in a position where Irish forces, since the late 1950s when they first went abroad, have played a very special role. It is appropriate in this debate to pay tribute to those Irish forces.

I recall some years ago when, as an observer in the elections at the end of the civil war in Nicaragua, a small Irish contingent of parliamentarians, including myself, headed north through the war zone. I remember how our hearts leapt when we saw the tricolour flying above a mountain village and we were met by Irish troops on the side of the road. During the election that followed, I remember the people on both sides praising the role which the small Irish contingent played on the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. I remember, for example, Italian parliamentarians saying to us that the Irish troops fulfilled a unique position because they had an innate understanding of the divisions in the society which did not often exist among the troops from other countries.

Ireland's contribution has been a distinguished one and we can be proud of it. However, on occasions such as this it would be too easy to close our eyes to the dangers involved. I welcome Senator Magner's contribution because it injected a degree of realism into the debate. Our troops take a risk when they are sent abroad. It is easy for people to be gungho and to speak in belligerent terms when they are not taking a physical risk. The risk is borne by the soldiers and the burden is borne by their families. Senator Magner's contribution was meaningful in this respect.

Since 1958 Irish soldiers have established a unique role around the world. The Minister is moving the issue a step further. He has prudently included protection in this Bill to ensure that a future Legislature cannot commit large numbers of Irish troops to activities which would not have the support of the people.

I commend the Bill. I commend the Minister on his courage both as Minister for Foreign Affairs and for the way he is fulfilling his current position. I wish the Irish contingent who are going to Somalia well, and I hope that they all return safely. I also wish their families well.

I want to speak about the level of equipment, a point raised by another speaker. There was some concern among people generally but particularly among the families of soldiers and this is addressed in the Minister's speech and it was discussed at the PDFORRA conference. It is important that we assure ourselves, and more importantly, the families of those going out on this mission, that all that can is being done for them. I wish these Army personnel well. During their assignment in Somalia they will have the goodwill and the pride of the Irish people and they will be remembered in the concerns and the prayers of the nation.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. This is a major departure from the traditional role of the Army with the United Nations which has been a peace-keeping role. This Bill takes that role a step further to peace enforcement and the substantial difference between these two roles is the use of arms for purposes other than self-defence.

Listening to the Minister and the other contributors one might think that the Bill only refers to this special mission to Somalia. The Bill has general application although its first application will be in Somalia. To suggest that it is specifically confined to Somalia would be misleading. The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs when addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, concentrated on Somalia. I felt he was making a major humanitarian appeal while excluding the specifics of this Bill which substantially amends the Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1960. I welcome this Bill as it is time we, as a nation, took our stand among nations, and took on our responsibilities as part of the world order.

I am concerned that the Government is reticent and careful in the way it is handling this Bill. It is attempting to cloak the Bill in its Somalia aspect. We must be clear that this Bill is specific in relation to a change in the role of the Army from peace-keeping to peace enforcement. The reason this is being addressed in a careful manner is that the Government are afraid of insulting the body politic in that we are moving from a position of neutrality to one of nonneutrality. In this instance we need leadership, positiveness and a lack of fear from the Government in presenting their case.

Section 2 of the Bill fundamentally changes the role of a person going abroad on a peace-keeping operation. Prior to this any member of the Defence Forces who wished to serve in a UN peace-keeping operation volunteered and if they were lucky they were chosen. Now, under section 2 of this Bill something substantially different occurs. After the enactment of this Bill, anyone who joins the Defence Forces will not have the choice of volunteering. They may be directed to go on any of these peace enforcing missions. I ask the Minister why this section has been included in the Bill. Does the Minister believe there might be a reticence in the Army or that there may not be the same level of volunteers offering to go on peace-keeping and peace enforcement missions? Does the Minister feel that to get the necessary complement of troops this section is needed whereby anybody who is not now a member of the Army but who will become a member of the Army can be directed by the Army authorities to go?

I have every confidence in the Army personnel. Over the years the Army has done great work in the area of security, particularly along the Border, and on UN peace-keeping operations. The Army has been a good ambassador for our country and has been highly regarded, particularly among local communities. It has been instrumental in bringing about peace in various areas. I have every confidence there will be the same level of volunteers from the Army, and that there is no need for this section in the Bill. I would like the Minister to indicate why he deemed it necessary to insert this section. I am not sure whether it reflects a lack of confidence by the Minister and the Government in the Army and its personnel when it comes to volunteers for peace enforcement operations.

Over many years I strongly promoted the establishment of a United Nations training school by the Army and I am glad the Minister made an announcement, shortly after he was appointed, that he was going to establish such a school. Maybe he would outline how far this proposal had proceeded. Due to the Army's expertise with regard to peace-keeping operations and its commendable and highly rated record of participation in United Nations operations we are in a unique position to train those less skilled and experienced in that field. The Army's particular skill related to its ability to establish contact with, and relate to, local communities and its communication skills were a major factor in bringing about peace in many areas.

With regard to the deployment in Somalia, I understand the Irish transport company will be responsible for the provision of supplies to the operational sections of the Force. I would like to know what the command structure and the rules of engagement will be. Who will be giving the orders? What powers will our troops have when transporting goods to the various voluntary organisations such as GOAL and Trócaire? I understand the Army will be bringing supplies to those agencies in addition to bringing supplies to other troops. I gather that French troops will be providing protection for the Irish unit as they transport supplies. In the event of an attack being made on the transport unit, who will give the order to fire if that is necessary?

I am also concerned that there will be a variety of participants with different cultural backgrounds and languages and that there may be major linguistic communications difficulties. What arrangements will be made to overcome that obstacle?

The Minister has not been noted for his reticence on any issue. I believe he has acted commendably in the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Defence. However, I ask him to be more specific on this legislation and not to shroud it under the Somalia operation. The Minister should state clearly what the legislation proposes and he should advise the public of the fundamental change that will result from its enactment, regardless of any reticence by the Government on the matter.

I propose to share my time with Senator McGennis.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome the Minister to the House and congratulate him on the introduction of this legislation.

This Bill augurs well for the aid groups in Somalia and elsewhere, reflecting the humanity of the Irish people. By his visits to these areas the Minister has demonstrated his interest in and understanding of the requirements necessary to ensure that our Forces are provided with the maximum support of the Government and the public.

I am pleased the Minister visited Somalia to ensure that all difficulties and dangers could be evaluated and that, in itself, will help ease the concern felt by the families of the troops who will be stationed in Somalia. I ask the Minister to ensure that all support groups at home are given the maximum information needed. Ireland has never been found wanting as a member of the UN and I believe this will continue. It is essential that Ireland play its full role under the UN Charter, a role which has represented the humanity of the Irish people for many years. Ireland is one of the most respected members of the UN and long may that continue.

I support the remarks made by Senator Dardis on recruitment to the Army. Living in Kildare I know that many young people want a new start of recruitment to the Army in which they wish to play an active role. I ask the Minister to ensure that in the short term rather than the long term recruitment to the Army is an option for the youth of the country. As already stated, the average age of those in the Army is 31 years and the soldiers themselves believe there is need for recruitment to the Armed Forces.

As a former Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and as Minister for Defence, I thank the Minister for ensuring that the Irish nation is aware at first hand of all the elements that contributed to the disaster in Somalia. Again I congratulate the Minister for visiting Somalia to relieve the worry of families of soldiers participating in the UN efforts there.

I support the Bill and congratulate the Minister. I wish the Forces well in their peace-keeping efforts and hope they do not suffer any tragedies in Somalia or any other place where there is a need for the humanity which is a feature of the Irish regiments which have visited such troubled areas in the past.

I thank Senator Wall for sharing his time with me and I welcome the Minister to the House. The families of Army personnel, like myself, are reassured by the personal interest the Minister brings to his portfolio. The fact that he has visited several times the areas in Somalia where we are sending our troops is also reassuring and demonstrates his deep commitment to the soldiers being sent there.

I have expressed to the Minister my concern about this legislation and I wish to put it on the record that I have concerns regarding the change in what is described as the mandate of the United Nations International Force. If this legislation was not being introduced in the context of the enormous and terrible human problem of Somalia, I believe this debate would take a different course.

Senator Magner made the point that people may die. There is no point pretending that soldiers who are sent to Somalia — or the aid workers — are not in danger of being killed. I advised the Minister privately, and I say it again in this House, that my father served with the United Nations International Force in the Congo in 1960 during the Niemba ambush. I recall the anguish and anxieties of the families of those soldiers as I lived in Army married quarters. I remember first hand experience of people worried and wondering if it was their husband or son who was involved in the ambush. It is important therefore to approach this issue with an exact idea of our intentions.

If this legislation was not being introduced in the context of Somalia there would be, as Senator Taylor-Quinn has pointed out a different debate. If there is a change in our involvement in UN peace-keeping forces this should be clearly stated. Perhaps the Minister would confirm that the Bill makes this clear. I am not sure if the public are aware that this is the change being proposed.

There is a public perception that this Bill is concerned with a specific situation. However, the Minister today referred to the fact that the Bill does not deal specifically with Somalia when he said: "... the Bill, if enacted, will constitute enabling legislation only and makes no specific reference to any particular mission..." Therefore it is possible that situations will arise requiring the sanction of this proposed legislation but which are dissimilar to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

I agree with the Minister that it is easy to stand up and make a case in the House but ultimately we have two choices: we can send troops or not get involved. The Minister puts this dilemma better than I could when he said: To preach to others about what should be done or who should do it would be an evasion of our responsibilities as a sovereign State and a member of the United Nations. Our actions must match our concerns. Otherwise we would by shying away from our obligations to our fellow human beings. I agree. This is probably a much harder decision than any of us realised because there is a need to assist those who will starve to death unless we take action.

Senator Dardis said we cannot afford to be selective. I do not agree with him. Maybe we should have looked at both options. Maybe we should have asked what would be the consequences for the Irish Army if we decide to be selective and not participate.

The Minister pointed out today that Ireland is not proposing to make a commitment to Somalia. The country is already committed in terms of money and aid workers. We have all sent our best wishes to those people who are in Somalia on our behalf and by sending troops, this commitment is being taken one step further. I do not wish to be critical of this measure. However I wish to put my views on the record. While I have reservations I recognise that we have responsibilities as well. I wish our troops and the NGO staff well and I hope they return safely.

May I extend my congratulations to the Minister on the extraordinarily good work he is doing in this general area. I think it is appreciated by Senators from all sides of the House, and his good faith and commitment has always been above reproach.

I would like to use the opportunity of discussing this legislation to do as other Senators have done and look at the whole area of neutrality. I want to look at it from the aspect of our sovereignty and in the context in which we would be sending troops to make and create peace. The words have a different meaning now, but two years ago they meant to ensure a peaceful world, and that is what we are trying to achieve today.

In Irish society there are two schools of thought: one says that if your neighbours are killing each other then you keep your nose out of other people's business and get on with your life, the other says that you should involve yourself to ensure that people work in harmony so that peace is created and maintained.

I approach the questions of neutrality, sovereignty and the involvement of our troops in peace-keeping operations from a number of different perspectives. I always try to look at the model of a neutral country but, unfortunately, I cannot find one. Many people have been misled and misinformed by a series of images with which we grew up. Let us look at a few of them to de-mystify and atomise them. It is said that Switzerland is a neutral country. Switzerland is prepared to launder the ill-gotten gains of every rotten regime and dictatorial government and it will do the same with hot money from any source. Switzerland, which has washed its hands and adopted an "I'm all right Jack" attitude to every war in Europe, is not a model to follow for any group or country that wishes to support peace. The other great example of neutrality given is Sweden. Sweden has grown wealthy this century by being prepared to sell arms to both sides in every war and it would be a poor model for anybody to outline as a neutral country.

Ireland prides itself on its neutrality. I would like to know how I explain to my grandchildren that we were neutral while Hitler tried to commit genocide on a nation, while Stalin exterminated 25 million people and while Pol Pot piled up the skulls of the intellectuals in his country. I do not believe we have ever had a proper discussion on this issue in this country. I do not claim that I can define what neutrality is, but I do know that the words "nuetrality", "sovereignty" and "pacifism" have become synonymous with each other in the jargon of those who discuss these issues. People have failed to make the distinction between all three words, and the point that independence thrives on inter-dependence has been lost in any of the definitions or discussions which have taken place on those words.

Looking at people who have contributed much to peace-keeping this century, one thing common to all is that they were prepared to do more than just talk. It does not matter whether they came from a theological, religious or political background, or were simply do-gooders, whether it was the peace movement in Northern Ireland or people who got Nobel prizes for peace. A number of people who received the Nobel Peace Prize should have received the Nobel prize for creating war and discord over the past 15 years. That, however, is my perspective, and I am not saying that I am right and others wrong. However, I have never heard of anybody being praised for peace work if that person had done nothing but talk. In the words, of a famous philosopher and poet, peace will not come by words alone. It is not justifiable to allow the globe to be at war with itself and say that our role is to stand back and watch while it happens. It is no more than blood sport that is being discussed in general terms at the moment.

How do we involve ourselves? How do we protect our neutrality and sovereignty and ensure that we contribute to peace-keeping? What is the role of the UN? Let us look at what is wrong with the UN. I was one of those who was opposed to UN intervention in the Iran-Iraq War, not because I supported Iraq, quite the opposite, but because I did not want to see it as a playfield or operations rehearsal area for US power, which is what it turned out to be — and we saw a re-run of that last weekend.

If we take the analogy of a country, we see that, no matter how peaceful its people are, it cannot operate as a democracy without having a police force. Switzerland, which is probably the most peaceful country in Europe, has a strong police force and is almost a police state. The quieter the country the clearer the powers of the police. The world cannot operate at peace with itself without some international peace force or army. I am not trying to create a new world order or a 2084 scenario, but the nature of human beings is for some to incline towards good, some towards evil and others easily get into trouble. Therefore, we do need a force to maintain a direction in operation and that can only be done through the UN but not as it is currently constituted with a 16-member Security Council that does not even include the Secretary-General as a member. The UN Security Council has a number of permanent members, including Britain — although I do not know what it is doing as a permanent member at this stage because that particular empire was dismantled many years ago.

What do we need? I would be happy with a UN force which was answerable to a proper hierarchical authority, and answerable in the end to a properly constituted and representative Security Council, which it is not at the moment. Such a police force would obviously contain Army volunteers from the member states of the UN and would have a command structure dependent on the UN. It would not be a decision of the Irish Government to send Irish troops here, there or anywhere; it would be a decision of the UN Security Council to deploy its resources in the best way possible.

I could go on at some length to develop those ideas but I know time is at a premium. However, I have many reservations, as any right thinking person would have, about the idea of changing the role of our troops as envisaged in this Bill. Those reservations bother me and I do not like the way this is moving forward, but, frankly, I do not see an alternative. I can no longer accept a situation in which we can stand back and not get our hands dirty. I am sure we will make mistakes and that some of our citizens will lose out. The Minister has, on other occasions, assured me that any of the people who go abroad on this kind of work do so as volunteers in the military sense of that word. The contribution made by our troops in the operations of the Congo, Cyprus and other peace-keeping operations, has brought honour and glory to this State. When it was proposed to send Irish troops to the Belgian Congo there was a debate here and abroad on the power and relevance of small nations but over the past 20 or 30 years it has become obvious that the small nations can and do have a say, and can play a vital role.

This is a Defence Bill and I have deliberately strayed into the wider area which is touched on by this change in the role of the Irish forces. I do not envy the Minister his task. I do not imagine anybody is enthusiastic about taking decisions which could result in Irish citizens losing their lives, and I have no doubt that will be thrown back at whichever Government is in power when it happens.

The question of support for our workers abroad — soldiers and aid workers — has been raised here today. These points are valid and it is important that the Minister has cleared the way to ensure that the people in foreign places will be as well protected as possible. In taking the decision that what is being done is an investment in peace and in a better world, we must realise that there will be casualties. Having said that and despite all our reservations, I think we can support this legislation. I commend the Bill to the House. I will support it even though I have many reservations but it is time for people to stand up and be counted.

I also welcome the Minister to the House. He did a marvellous job in Foreign Affairs and, traditionally, Defence was not the most prominent of Ministries. The Minister has displayed the same initiative in this Department that he displayed in Foreign Affairs. To say that he is head and shoulders above the rest is not just to refer to his physical size but to his moral authority which he used to such good effect in his previous Ministry. I am sure he will do the same in this Ministry, and this Bill is an example.

It is worth examining how the Bill came about. The mandate of the first UN operation in Somalia, UNOSOM 1, dated 20 August 1992, was the provision of military protection for and assistance with the distribution of emergency humanitarian relief supplies, including protection for the personnel of the UN and non-governmental organisations. Due to the deployment of the unified task force, UNOSOM 1 was never fully deployed.

The second UN operation in Somalia, UNOSOM II, was established on 26 March 1993 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter with an expanded mandate including the following military tasks of a peace enforcement nature: to monitor that all factions respect the cease fire; to prevent the resumption of violence and to take appropriate action against factions which violate or threaten to violate the cease fire; to maintain control of heavy weapons; to seize unauthorised small arms; to secure ports, airports and lines of communication; to protect UN, Red Cross and NGO personnel and facilities and to take such forceful action as may be required against attacks on them; to continue the demining programme; to assist in the repatriation of refugees; and to carry out such further functions which may be authorised by the Security Council.

These tasks will require a force of 28,000 personnel, as the Minister stated, as against 3,500 under UNOSOM I mandate. The Defence Act, 1960, which permits the dispatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Forces for service with an International United Nations Force, defines such a force as "an international force or body established for the performance of duties of a police character". Since some of the tasks envisaged for UNOSOM II are of military rather than a police character, Irish participation in the Force requires an amendment of that definition in the legislation.

On a peace-keeping operation the use of force is limited to self-defence. Peace enforcement is mandated under Chapter VI of the UN Charter and troops are authorised to take the initiative in the use of force. The principal duty of the Irish transport company will be the provision of supplies of military components of UNOSOM II. Any operation of an enforcement nature would be the task of the operational forces. In the carrying out of its logistical role, the Irish transport company will have greater latitude with regard to the use of weapons and it will not be limited to the very narrow concept of self-defence, although the principle of minimum force will apply. I understand the contingents will rotate every six months, organised by the UN.

It will not be an easy task because the climate is very hot throughout the year. There are two rainy seasons during which many roads become impassable. During the ravages of the civil war the whole country was vandalised resulting in the complete destruction of its infrastructure. Few buildings remain undamaged in the towns and there is no electricity supply. The water and sewage systems were destroyed. The water system has been gradually restored with assistance from American engineers.

The transport company will be fully immunised against endemic diseases prior to departure and a medical officer and assistant will accompany the contingent. Troops will be accommodated in specially purchased air-conditioned tents. They will have the usual facilities afforded to all these people. Nevertheless their task will be difficult but a soldier's life is hard because at any time he may be called on to give his life for his fellow man. Many of our brave Irish soldiers have lost their lives in operations abroad. I think in particular of a friend of mine, Jack Heneghan in Mayo, whose son gave his life for his fellow man when abroad on one of these missions. It is easy for us to stand here and say it is a soldier's life and that when one signs up, one takes the chances. Nevertheless any loss of life is always tragic.

While the Minister cannot give absolute assurances about our troops' safety, he said the Irish contingent will be among the best trained and will be spared nothing in terms of equipment. They will be located in a relatively quiet region and, in so far as is humanly possible, everything has been done to ensure their safety while serving in Somalia.

In relation to this, I wish to pay special tribute to the work of our Army. It is a small army which is well trained and highly disciplined but it is not often mentioned that it has been loyal to the State since its formation. In many other countries their armies form part of coups, take the law into their own hands and support left or right wing regimes. We are fortunate and we often do not appreciate just how good it is to have an army which is an organ of the State and which supports and obeys the Government directives which are given to it from time to time.

Subject to the passing of the Bill, the troops may be going to Somalia in July. I send them every good wish. Like Senator O'Toole, I too have reservations about the operation but not many because it is a soldier's life to fight, provided it is to help people. Ireland is not a belligerent nation and has not attacked any other country, and that is not just because we are small. The peace-keeping operations our troops are on will be of great benefit to the country. We have a good record abroad and we will continue this record. I congratulate the Minister for his initiative in this regard.

I welcome the Minister to the House and I congratulate him on a brilliant piece of legislation produced under difficult circumstances.

I intend to be brief. The necessity for this type of legislation has come about because of the so-called new world order in the sense that we no longer have two super powers who can prop up or look after their allies on a permanent basis. This has put pressure on the UN to expand its role and this is the main reason for the difference between peace-keeping and peace enforcement. Having listened to today's debate the impression I got from some contributions is that this Bill will preclude us from peace-keeping operations. In my opinion that is wrong. It merely facilitates us in certain circumstances to fulfil a peace enforcement role. In addition, there is the added guarantee that any peace enforcement or peace-keeping operation must have the approval of the Dáil where it involves more than 12 persons. In other words, there is parliamentary control and accountability in addition to what the Minister mentioned in his opening speech regarding the Select Committee on Legislation and Security and the Estimates for the Department of Defence.

Around the world the breakdown of democracy, civil war, wars between countries and strife have placed demands on us all. There is a responsibility on Ireland, being a democratic country and having enjoyed freedom for so long, to help where possible in ensuring the freedom of other nations and peoples.

Much has been said about the difference between peace-keeping and peace enforcement. General Morillon, who is in charge of the UN Force in Bosnia-Hercegovina recently asked what the point was in having a peace-keeping force when the people there were not interested in keeping peace. He was pushing for a peace enforcement mandate. That is a poignant remark from a man who is one of the first generals in any of the UN forces to put himself directly in the firing line to protect innocent civilians and refugees.

We should support the UN in enforcing peace where it is necessary and in keeping peace, as we have done in Lebanon and elsewhere. Ireland has a long and distinguished career in UN service and it would be a shame were we not to adapt to accommodate the changing role the UN will have in the future by not passing this legislation. I do not feel it will interfere dramatically with our neutral stance. As Senator O'Toole asked, what is our neutral stance? We each have a basic understanding of the concept of Irish neutrality. It means that we will not participate in any military blocs.

It is important to remember that this is a Defence Bill and not an Offence Bill. It facilitates defending, not offending or aggression. The Minister has brought enlightenment and intelligence to his Department and I wish him every success in the future.

Senator Belton had a query about insurance. Apart from the usual contribution under the Defence Forces (Pensions) Acts, arrangements are made whereby if an insurance policy costs more by way of extra premium, the Department pays the difference. As regards the personnel who will be serving in Somalia, a compensation scheme is being reviewed and is under close scrutiny at present. I would like to assure Senator Belton that this matter is being examined to the advantage of those who will be serving in this capacity.

Senator Belton made the point that a resolution of the Dáil will be required for each new mission. I understand the mechanism is that the resolution is dealt with by the Dáil alone, and does not reach this House. In those circumstances, the Senator would have other mechanisms available to enable him to raise the area of concern he has expressed in the context of this and other legislation.

I appreciate the Senator's positive remarks in relation to the future safety of the Army in Somalia. He comes from the Midlands and there is a considerable Permanent Defence Force presence in that part of the country and he is aware of the concerns of personnel arising from this and other missions.

I commend the Fine Gael spokesman for his contribution and his support which are much appreciated in these circumstances, and on this particularly difficult occasion.

Senator Daly, speaking on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, is a former Minister for Defence and is therefore coming from a strong position. He said this legislation is historic in the sense that it is a new departure and places an additional emphasis on peace making as distinct from peace-keeping. However, the two elements will be present and I would like to think that our Army will be primarily, as it always has been, engaged in a peace-keeping role. As the Senator pointed out, we are sending an 80 man contingent in a specific, logistical role and they will not be going in a combat mode. They are goint to Somalia as a transport unit, and they will be under instructions and tight security.

I pointed out during my speech in the Lower House and in the Seanad that I decided to visit Baidoa when in south Mogadishu. The decision was based on information that our contingent would be going there, and I went to find out exactly where they would be located. We were welcomed in Baidoa by the French contingent under a fine, professional soldier, General Quadri of the French Army. Our two Army personnel, the Assistant Chief of Staff, Brigadier-General John O'Shea and the officer commanding the intended transport unit, Commander Maurice O'Donoghue, received strong briefing from their French colleagues on two separate occasions — one afternoon for an hour and the morning of our departure for two hours. The ground was marked out for the contingent and their upcoming mission. It was encouraging and helpful and, I think, hopeful in all the circumstances.

I agree with Senator Daly that families of personnel serving overseas have many worries and we do our best to allay those worries. In 1987 fewer than 10,000 personnel served in United Nations missions overseas and in 1993 there are more than 80,000 serving. This clearly indicates the increased scope and extent of United Nations participation in service overseas. We have 12 missions serving overseas at present. The function of these missions is primarily to bring peace, but the purpose of this legislation is to give added strength to the role undertaken by the UN in future.

Senator Lee asked if the risks involved were adequately assessed and expressed his concerns about them. I have said before that it is difficult to give an accurate assessment in that regard; I can give assurances but not guarantees. There are no certainties in politics or in life and it is the same in this case. All we can do is provide the contingent with the best possible equipment and leadership, and we are doing that. The officer commanding them is a man with a fine reputation and the type of equipment they will get will be the best available. As Senator Lee and others have indicated, some of what has been said in this debate would have been more proper to a discussion on Foreign Affairs.

The Minister is perceived as being the Minister for Foreign Affairs as well.

It is a flattering perception — I cannot imagine why. However, that is the perception of others. We have a Minister for Foreign Affairs who is well respected and doing an exceptional job.

Senator Magner highlighted the enormous tragedy in Somalia, and I concur with that view. When I went there in August 1992, the number of deaths I saw in Baidoa, in the feeding centres and on the streets, was appalling. When I returned there a week ago, what I saw, especially in the context of the aid agencies, was a miracle. What has been done by GOAL, in the context of their orphanage in Baidoa, is magnificent. Over 900 orphans living there are well fed and have a sense of hope for the future; I hope their situation does improve because all their families are dead.

Concern have also made an enormous contribution to Baidoa by setting up a feeding centre, which they continue to operate, and a school, which is organised and staffed by local Somalis. Handing the running of the country back to the people is the direction I would like to see us go and it will be a day of triumph for Somalia when the last UN troops leave.

Senator Magner also referred to the ending of the Cold War, the beginning of a new era for the UN and the role of a standing army in world affairs, which is addressed in the booklet Agenda for Peace, produced by Dr. Boutros BoutrosGhali. The observations made by the Senator in the context of a standing army would be part of that agenda. The Senator also made a good point when he spoke about the prohibition of the movement of food aid in the country, which meant that the food was not getting to the people for whom it was intended because the warlords were milking the population and challenging the convoys established by aid organisations throughout the country. It is time this was brought to an end.

Senator Dardis criticised the amount of time given to debate this legislation. Many worthy contributions were made and I do not believe many Senators felt they were prevented from speaking on this issue. That was also true of the Second Stage debate in the Dáil, although there may have been some concern about the time given to Committee Stage, which was, in the circumstances, a reasonable criticism. We are coming towards the end of the parliamentary term and these complaints, like the annual return of the swallows, arise in the Oireachtas annually and are predictable. I have seen them arising seriatim during my long period in Leinster House.

The Senator has some reservations about the changes in the UN mandate, but I believe we all feel a certain amount of disquiet in that context, especially with regard to the risk factor. I would like to assure him that the equipment being given to the contingent is of the highest quality. The recommendations for this equipment came from the Army authorities and were met in total.

Senators, including Senator Dardis, referred to the average age in the Army and the need for recruitment of younger personnel. I agree the age profile of the Army is out of line and that we should have young privates. Instead, with the greatest respect we have soldiers with an average age of 30-31 years. This is unacceptable, I would like to assure Senators that it is one of my ambitions to recruit young men and women into the Army, especially at the so-called "other ranks" level because it is important for the future development of the Army.

It is also important for the Army's role in the context of the UN. One cannot send soldiers who are not physically able to do the job because of their age. There is no problem about commitment or professionalism in the Army, but I accept that there is one about age and I will do what I can to alleviate this problem.

Other matters raised by Senator Dardis include the importance of selecting properly trained personnel. I would like to assure the Senators that those being sent out to Somalia are of the highest professional calibre and have served overseas in other missions. I was asked about air cover for our Army. Air cover will also be provided for our troops within Somalia if required.

Senator Kelleher suggested that we were slow, as a country, in responding to the crisis in Somalia. After both the presidential and my own visits, there was an increased awareness of what was happening there, but the tragedy is that similar crises are occurring throughout the Horn of Africa. The Sudan, Ethiopia, the northern borders of Kenya and other areas are a great tragedy for mankind — and I use this term in its generic context. What is happening in the Sudan is an obscenity; what happened in Ethiopia was obscenity and the current situation in Somalia is a source of concern which has now been identified.

Senator Henry expressed her misgivings and reservations but we cannot be ambivalent about this issue. Senator Lee suggested that we put our money where our mouth is. He did not use those words but that was the gist of what he said. I acknowledge this and other points he made in this regard.

I have a strong point of view about the Gulf War and what happened in Iraq. The Minister for Foregin Affairs has indicated the Government's disquiet about recent events in Iraq and it is proper that he should do so.

Senator Henry brought an added emphasis to her contribution in the sense that she is a member of the Irish Red Cross. She stressed how acceptable are Irish troops and Irish aid agencies in overseas missions.

Senator Roche's contribution was wide ranging. Both Senator Roche and I engaged in a number of campaigns when he was a Member of the other House, and I bow to him in this regard. He pointed out that the risk borne by soldiers is a matter of concern for their familes. We live with that, we are aware of that, we acknowledge that; we have to sympathise with that but we must ensure, as far as we can, that these people are properly trained and equipped and that they are familar with the areas in which they will serve. I repeat, and I apologise for repeating, there are no certainties in this life. I assure Senator Roche that equipment provided is of the highest standard.

Senator Taylor-Quinn made a number of interesting and valuable points. There is no question of directions being given to anyone in the context of this or any other peace-keeping operation. People volunteer for service in overseas areas under the 1960 Act. I hope this will continue, despite the provisions contained in section 2 of the Bill. People will not be mandated or directed to take part in this or future overseas missions.

Why include that section?

Under the 1960 Act, those serving since 1960 would be engaged in peace-keeping. There may be a mandatory element contained in the 1960 Act but it has never been implemented and furthermore, I hope it will not be implemented in the future.

Senator Taylor-Quinn mentioned the establishment of a UN school here. She correctly identified Ireland's important role in the area of peace-keeping throughout the world and the reputation we have achieved over the past 30 years in this regard. On becoming Minister for Defence, I asked the Army authorities to investigate the possibility of establishing a UN school so that other countries could avail of our expertise in this area. That is being examined. As Senator Taylor-Quinn pointed out it is approximately six months since I instituted the investigation. Perhaps the time has come to bring this matter to a conclusion and to provide the school and facilities as intended. The school would be run on a commercial basis and would not be a significant or additional cost on the State. Those attending the school would come from other countries. As Senator Magner said, in the post-Cold War era most armies — but not all — are going in the direction of peace-keeping and peace enforcement. It is intended to locate the school at the Curragh Camp, County Kildare.

Senator Taylor-Quinn said that this legislation is a historic departure from our traditional role. She said, and it was a fair point, that while the emphasis is now on Somalia, this is enabling legislation and will allow us to take part in other operations if requested. Each request will be examined on its merits and the circumstances surrounding the request will be carefully considered. The mechanism of scrutiny, review and report will be available to both Houses. Although no attempt is being made to shroud the intentions of this Bill, it is enabling legislation which happens to coincide with events in Somalia. I hope Senator Taylor-Quinn does not think it is an attempt to mislead her, which would be difficult, or——

The Minister is not doing that.

——to underestimate the intelligence of the people. The people know what this legislation entails and that its introductions happens to coincide with events in Somalia. When in Somalia, our troops will not play a policing role but a peace enforcement and peace-keeping role. I hope I have answered the Senator's questions to her satisfaction.

I wish the Minister would elaborate on section 2.

I would if I had the time; I am trying to respond seriatim to each contribution.

In the most diplomatic way possible.

As the Senator will appreciate, I do not want to exclude anyone.

Senator Wall mentioned the question of keeping families informed of events. We will be in touch with the families. They will be supported and their concerns will be addressed. Communications, including post and possibly telephonic communications between the 80 man unit and their families, will be quick and efficient. As Senator Wall said, we are one of the most respected peace-keeping nations and this must continue to be the directional role of the Defence Force. The Senator said there is an urgent need to start recruiting and I concede that point. That is a matter I hope I can address in the not too distant future. I cannot say or put a time on it because I would not want to be held to that. We are living in difficult financial times and if money becomes available, in the context of the Army, I will direct it towards recruitment because, as I have already said, the average age profile is too high.

As Senator McGennis, said, her father served with honour in the Congo. She has always been involved in the Army and sometime ago she expressed her concerns about what is happening now. I hope I have addressed those concerns. She raised another point also mentioned by Senator Taylor-Quinn, that this is enabling legislation and was not concerned solely with Somalia. I accept that. She has legitimate reservations, as do other contributors, about this. She has a particular standing in this debate in that she has first hand knowledge of the Army. I appreciate that and I acknowledge her concerns.

Senator O'Toole also has huge reservations about the Bill. He points out the risks but nevertheless supports the legislation. He raised the question of our neutrality and sovereignty but I believe this type of role enhances our sovereignty. The issue of our neutrality is properly for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and I will not dwell on it except to offer the opinion that in no way does this mission, or will other such missions, infringe on our neutrality. That is a debate for another occasion.

The Senator makes a valid point about the constitution of the UN Security Council. There was considerable debate on this in the Dáil last evening. Questions on the membership of the Security Council were raised. Is it legitimate that the Security Council should have five permanent members taking account of the balance of population and countries, such as India, Japan and the African nations who are excluded from the Council? Would it not be proper to have additional members of the Council or remove from it members who no longer have a locus standi in the context of world affairs?

I suggested the European Community, as a whole, should be represented on the Security Council. That would allow 12 countries to be represented on the Security Council and would encompass a country which it has been suggested should be removed from the Council. That again is for another debate.

We will not mention that other country.

No, we will not. It would be unfair to do so. A case can be made for examining the Security Council and for the reorganisation of the United Nations. The time may have come to regionalise the UN on the various continents and take it out of New York and that wretched building in which it is housed. That edifice may be as out of date as some aspects of the organisations. The Charter of the UN was devised in the post-war period, 1945, and that is a long time ago. What was good for the UN then might not necessarily be good for it today. That is why I believe we should concern ourselves in a foreign affairs context with those aspects of the UN. Senator O'Toole in a extensive contribution made those and other points which I hope I have addressed but, ultimately, he like others will support the Bill.

Senator Lydon outlined the mandate of the United Nations and said our Defence Forces have always been loyal to this State. This has been one of the great strengths of our Army, Air Corps and Navy. He made other concise points with which I have dealt in my response to other contributions.

Senator Crowley said this legislation was introduced in difficult circumstances, and I accept that. He said Ireland had played a distinguished role in peace-keeping. He distinguished the peace-keeping role from that of peace enforcement and said we must continue to concentrate on peace-keeping. I agree with that and strongly support him. He discussed the freedom of other nations and mentioned General Phillipe Morillon in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The general is undoubtedly a brave man who should have been listened to but because he has taken a particular stance I understand he is to be removed from Bosnia. That is unfortunate but it is part of what I would consider the hypocrisy of diplomacy and politics on this issue.

I pay tribute not only to this fine French general but to the general in charge of the French contingent in Baidoa and his colleagues for the manner in which they met us and accompanied us to the military authorities. They reassured us on a range of points and were generous with their hospitality and information. We stayed in a house belonging to Siad Barré, the ousted president. It was in ragged condition after a long civil war.

The rules of engagement for UNOSOM II provide that the United Nations personnel may use force in two clearly defined situations. First, as always applied in UN peace-keeping, it can be used for self-defence, secondly, force may be used when the UN is being physically prevented from carrying out its mandate. The disarming of the Somali factions is one of the mandated tasks assigned to UNOSOM II. I have dealt with her queries about the United Nations school and other matters.

I am glad so many Senators took part in this important debate. I acknowledge the high quality of the contributions. I have responded as adequately as I could in the circumstances.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.