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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 20 Oct 2021

Vol. 279 No. 8

Defence (Amendment) Bill 2020: Committee Stage

Section 1 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, to delete lines 22 to 25 and substitute the following:

“ ‘international force’ means the United Nations or an International United Nations Force to which a contingent or a member of the Defence Forces may be assigned to for service outside the State for any purpose specified in section 3 of the Act of 2006;”.

The amendment seeks to change the definition of "international force".

Let me give an example of other legislation. The Defence (Amendment) Act 2006 contains a definition for "international organisation" that lists a number of different sub-categories such as the UN, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, and "any regional arrangement or agency", which includes the EU. I am concerned that the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2020 contains an extraordinarily wide definition as it states: "'international force’ means an International United Nations Force or any force to which a contingent or a member of the Defence Forces may be assigned to for service outside the State for any purpose specified in section 3 of the Act of 2006". However, section 3(1)(a) of the 2006 Act simply states that a person may be seconded to another force so the purpose is literally secondment. That provision does not have a qualitative constraint in terms of what force somebody might be transferred to yet the definition in this Bill also does not have a qualitative constraint on what kind of force or international force that people may be transferred to. Section 1 of the Defence (Amendment) Act defines subcategories for an international organisation. Some of the subcategories need a little examination but at least they were spelled out in the Act whereas the proposal in the current Bill refers to "any force" and I think that is too wide. My amendment seeks to constrain it by stating "the United Nations or an International United Nations Force" rather than "any force". I am open to and reserve the right at Report Stage to refine my amendment somewhat further as forces may operate with a UN mandate and some of my later amendments relate to that aspect. Perhaps the OSCE or other categories should be included but the provision in the Bill for "any force" is too wide. I have suggested the parameters for a force and I am interested in the Minister's view on how we can set parameters. Perhaps he will confirm whether he wants to accept my amendment or intends to bring forward an amendment or clarification.

I call Senator Craughwell.

No, I think Senator Craughwell has a contribution.

The Minister is anxious. I do not agree with my colleague, Senator Higgins, because we should not put in anything that will constrain us because we do not know what will happen in the future.

There has been a lot of talk about European armies and the like so this debate is an opportunity to convey that there is no possibility of a European army where there is not an independent European intelligence gathering agency. I do not see a European army happening now or at any time in the future so I am not concerned about the leeway that the legislation gives. We are never sure of what we will be called upon to do. We have been involved in European actions in various parts of the world so I support the Bill as it stands.

Anois a Aire.

I am sorry for jumping the gun a little bit.

I spoke to Senator Higgins on similar issues to this following the Second Stage debate. At the outset it is important to clarify that the purpose of section 2 is to provide for the delegation of a level of operational control to the force commander of international UN forces. The legislation simply provides for the current de facto position. The Senator's amendment would neuter the effect of section 3 of the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006, which recognises that certain missions, including humanitarian and training operations, would usually not be subject to a UN Security Council resolution as such operations do not constitute a threat to international peace and security for the most part. While I am certain that this was not the intention of the Senator, it is important to note that if this provision was enacted certain humanitarian operations and training missions, conducted using military forces and capabilities, would not be possible as they would not be a UN or a UN-mandated operation yet may be justifiable in terms of an Irish intervention. As such, I cannot accept the amendment.

In practical terms, when I make a decision as to a consideration around sending Irish Defence Forces personnel to certain parts of the world, the triple lock is a major factor in terms of getting Government approval, Dáil approval and having a UN mandate. However, there are both training and humanitarian missions that do not necessarily fall into that category but may well require the co-ordination, under a force commander, to ensure that there is proper operational control and so on.

Let us not forget that the delegations that a Minister would offer are under the control of the Minister. I would, therefore, always prioritise the well-being and involvement of our Defence Forces personnel but for line of command and leadership within a humanitarian or training mission, which may involve multiple contributors, one must make sure that there is a decision-making process to ensure that groups of Defence Forces personnel are interoperable with each other. That is kind of the space we are in here. It is not trying to find a way of sending Irish Defence Forces personnel, to parts of the world, with less scrutiny or anything like that. This is about having the capacity to respond quickly.

I can vividly remember, when I was last Minister for Defence, that I made the decision to recommend to the Taoiseach that we should send ships to the Mediterranean Sea. We did that without a UN mandate. We did so because it was a humanitarian response to an appalling human tragedy and Irish people supported that. It had nothing to do with the triple lock. As it happened, a delegation was not needed because there was not a structured operation in the Mediterranean at the time. We helped on a bilateral informal basis with the Italians and the Italian coast guard but later that developed into Operation Pontus, Operation Sophia and so on where there is a lot more structure. It is just like when we send troops on a training mission to Mali. That is an EU mission, not a UN mission, even though the UN very much approves and even though what is happening in Mali at the moment is concerning to put it mildly.

For me to be limited in terms of a delegation that I could give, in order for our troops to be safe and function under a force commander, because there was not a UN mandate for a training mission such as that, would be unnecessarily restrictive. Part of being a neutral non-aligned country militarily is that we decide where our troops go and when they should intervene whether it is a humanitarian or training mission, or whether it involves a large number of troops.

Yesterday, in Limerick, I inspected a battalion that is going to UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, in a few weeks, and I am conscious of the risks and sacrifices that they make along with their families. In normal structured missions this is straightforward in terms of a UN mandate but specific missions sometimes require me to make decisions, and sometimes with a tight timeline, to make humanitarian interventions, or support others in whatever crisis may need, or may justify, an Irish intervention, that do not have a formal UN mandate. We need to careful we do not tie our hands too much in this regard.

I understand that the amendment seeks to introduce appropriate checks and balances before Irish troops would go to a part of the world and, effectively, operate under a force commander from another country. However, there needs to be sufficient flexibility for a Minister for Defence, either an existing one or future one, to be able to make a recommendation to Government to make an intervention when Irish troops can make a real difference. That is why I think it would not be helpful to accept this amendment as we want the flexibility to intervene when necessary.

I note that in the Minister's own example he gave there, he spoke of a United Nations force commander, which is one of the examples he gave on Second Stage. The core point is that this may not be a United Nations force commander. I accept there may be some constraints in this framing and the Minister will note that some of my later amendments explicitly deal with certain areas of secondment but in fact leave and have a separate provision for the humanitarian action. That is an example of where we need to have that flexibility. At the moment, as set out in the Bill, the erring is very much on the other side in that it refers to "any force". I urge the Minister to consider constraining that, and I will bring further amendments on Report Stage. It is one thing to say we do not want it simply confined to the United Nations but it is another thing to have it completely wide open in having any force in that space.

We have a concern there. The Minister mentioned the Operation Sophia example and the bilateral operation. That is a very interesting example because it is an example whereby Ireland and the Naval Service were operating with a humanitarian mandate. It then joined Operation Sophia, transferred force command, and the priorities of that mission explicitly moved away from humanitarian search and rescue towards securitisation and intervention with ships. We were told Ireland would have a great influence in ensuring the humanitarian aspect of Operation Sophia would continue. It did not; it stopped.

That is because we stopped sending ships because we do not have the capacity to send ships.

The point is, when you transfer command, there is a very significant consequence. That is why it is very important to know who you are transferring command to, what their criteria will be and what the means and mechanisms as to how you relate to them will be. Any force is simply too wide in this regard.

I note the Minister's point on time constraints. I know we have limited time for this debate so I will not extend as far as I might on the issue of the Mediterranean. Amendment No. 2, however, this seeks to address the fact there may be emergency circumstances but it also puts some safeguards in place, because there is currently quite a lot of ministerial discretion on the delegation of operational control to any force. Again, as I said, it is not even as constrained as it is under the international organisation definition which is in the original Defence (Amendment) Act 2006. This is a much wider framing in this section.

Ministerial discretion is not a bad thing. I regularly appear before this House and the Dáil to answer questions and to be held to account, and I am held to account in many ways. That is part of being a Minister, and sometimes ministerial discretion is a good thing in terms of having the flexibility to use judgement and to make an intervention quickly that could be life-saving.

We did that recently, for example, with regard to Kabul Airport. I did not come to the Oireachtas for that but I was certainly answerable to it after I made the decision. I am not saying that is relevant to the Senator’s particular amendment but I am saying it is relevant to the comment around ministerial discretion. Sometimes Ministers need to be empowered to make decisions and, of course, they need to be fully answerable for those decisions. For me, however, this is an area where if there is a delegation from me to a force commander relating to Irish Defence Forces personnel who are part of a combined mission to ensure it runs efficiently and safely for our personnel and to get the outcomes it needs, that is the kind of decision a Minister for Defence needs to make on the advice of his Department and of the Defence Forces.

There is no way I would ever be signing delegations the Defence Forces or the Department were recommending against. I understand the issue the Senator is raising and it is a legitimate issue for us to debate, but I also think it is important the political system allows a Minister to do his or her job in making appropriate interventions. There then needs to be, as there is, a very robust process of accountability as to the basis for those decisions, whether they were right or wrong, and so on. That is ultimately at the core of this here. If we try to legislate to such an extent that we tie the Minister’s hands on when and where he or she could send Defence Forces personnel, whether it is an expected or planned mission or whether it is a short-term humanitarian response or rescue mission that involves multiple other forces, these are things we must be able to make decisions on quickly as opposed to having potentially to go back to the Oireachtas. What if it happens over the summer months, for example?

I am all about accountability for these decisions but I am also about allowing a Minister, and this is not about me as Minister but whoever is the Minister for Defence in the future, to make decisions on the advice of his or her Department, the Defence Forces and the Chief of Staff, to make appropriate interventions, and to use the skill sets and experience we have in an international setting. To confine that too much means potentially our hands could be tied by legislation when we should actually have Defence Forces personnel on their way to a part of the world that desperately needs them.

That is the only motivation I have here. This is a useful debate to have, however, and the Senator's amendments have got me thinking about it and I have had a conversation with our team in the Department about it. I believe this is a case for ministerial discretion as opposed to ministerial discretion being the problem.

What is the timing for the debate, a Chathaoirligh, because I am just keen to ensure we get through all of the amendments?

The debate adjourns at 5.15 p.m.

I thank the Cathaoirleach for the clarification. I do not believe the Minister and I will agree on this so perhaps either or both of us may come back with revised amendments on Report Stage on this matter. I point to that core issue of the fact that "any force" is wider than the definitions we had previously of international organisations or of other groups. I urge the Minister to consider how wide that space is. He has spoken to the time piece and I am not going to respond to him on that because the next amendment, in fact, will relate to the matter of timing and discretion in that regard.

On the matter of which forces this applies to, that is an issue we may need to tease out further on Report Stage. My amendments propose to confine it to the United Nations, and while the Minister has given reasons he feels it should not be so confined, I also argue that neither should it be so wide open. The Defence (Amendment) Act 2006 did not have as wide a framing as we have seen in this regard. That is why this is perhaps an area that needs a reference to "international force", but simply saying "any force" is just too wide in this regard.

To be helpful to the House, the following has been pointed out to me and is worth mentioning. There are already quite strict limitations in law on the roles and functions for which the Defence Forces can be deployed overseas.

If you look at the 2006 Act, under section 3, it is quite clear on this:

(1) A contingent or member of the Permanent Defence Force may, with the prior approval of and on the authority of the Government, be despatched for service outside the State for the purposes of—

(a) carrying out duties as a military representative or filling appointments or postings outside the State, including secondments to any international organisation,

(b) conducting or participating in training,

(c) carrying out ceremonial duties, participating in exchanges or undertaking visits,

(d) undertaking monitoring, observation or advisory duties,

(e) participating in or undertaking reconnaissance or fact-finding missions,

(f) undertaking humanitarian tasks in response to an actual or potential disaster or emergency,

(g) participating in sporting events, or

(h) inspecting and evaluating stores, equipment and facilities.

(2) Nothing in this section shall prevent the Government from giving general approval, for such period of time as they determine, to such classes of any of the activities specified in subsection (1)

We already have quite a lot of clarity in the legislation on the kind of duties we can ask of our personnel in respect of interventions and so on. My fear is that if we put too many restrictions in place, we just do not know what, in a month's, a year's or ten years' time, may trigger an appropriate intervention that involves Irish Defence Forces personnel. We are and have become used to the classic peacekeeping roles under a UN mandate, whether it is in UNIFIL, UNDOF in Mali, in Kosovo or wherever.

However, I think we are likely to see in the future peacekeeping, peace enforcement and humanitarian interventions that in many ways are more complex and more challenging. The Irish Defence Forces are really good with those interventions. We match any country in the world, in my view, when it comes to training and equipping our personnel for those kinds of interventions. I just want to make sure a Minister can make a decision in a timely manner that is appropriate while, of course, being accountable for that decision to the Oireachtas. However, I would caution against putting in legislation anything that ties the Minister's hands further. I take the point the Senator has made, though, and I will think about it between now and Report Stage. For now, I do not think I can accept the amendment.

We saw how Ireland's ability to train with other armies around the world benefited us recently in Kabul. When our people went on the ground out there, they knew people on the ground there and were able to interact with them, and that is really important. I agree with certain restrictions on how troops might be used overseas, but Kabul is an example of how quickly things can change and a Minister and a government can find themselves in a crisis situation in which they have to get people on the ground quickly in a humanitarian effort to get people back home as quickly as possible. I am one of the people who was screaming during the Kabul issue to get troops out there. I would be one of the people screaming that we should have heavy lift aircraft to bring people back from wherever in the world a crisis hits. In the early stages of Covid-19, for example, we had people dispersed around the world. I would want a Minister to be in a position to make a decision to send aircraft, to bring people home and to send troops out to bring people home in such situations. I am therefore anxious we do not use something as crude as legislation to tie hands that we may regret deeply tying in a few years' time or a few months' time. We live in a very strange world where things change very rapidly.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:

“(5) A delegation of operational control by the Minister under this Act shall only exceed a period of eight months, where a Minister has laid a motion before, and that motion has been passed by, both Houses of the Oireachtas authorising an extension of such a delegation of operational control.”.

I believe the Minister has made the case for amendment No. 2 very strongly in his own speech because the amendment addresses the issue of timing. It recognises, in terms of the time constraints, that situations may arise in which delegation needs to take place. However, we do not want that to become long-term, over a sustained period, without recourse to the Oireachtas. With respect, the Minister has spoken about the Minister's responsibility, but part of democracy is that we have an Executive and a Legislature, and we as the Legislature also have a responsibility. The Minister may be a Minister and may be very good at being the Minister for Foreign Affairs. There will be other Ministers in time. We as the Legislature - I will probably be in the role of legislator for some time - need to hold the Executive to account and need to be satisfied with our legislation. It is therefore literally our responsibility to ensure there are checks and balances in place. This is part of one of the things Ireland has championed, that is, the idea of having democratic structures and checks and balances. I am not saying there is never a case for ministerial discretion; there is. I will tell the House one area where I would like to see it. I know this comes under not solely the Minister's Department but also the Department of Justice. We talked about Afghanistan. We should be taking in more than 500 people from Afghanistan in terms of visas right now if we are concerned about and care about that issue.

We are taking in many more than 500, I am glad to say.

I know the number is increasing, but the core point is that it has been increasing only partially. I believe there is scope in that regard; nonetheless there have to be checks and balances on this.

Amendment No. 2 is extremely reasonable. It states that where there has been a delegation of operational control under the Act, that delegation - and this seeks to account for, as the Minister says, when this happens in the summer or over Christmas - should not exceed a period of more than eight months without a proper motion having come to both Houses of the Oireachtas and without there having been an opportunity for proper scrutiny. Therefore, if a decision needs to be made in August, I think it would be reasonable that by the following January, February or March, before we continue with the secondment of Irish troops to another force commander, there would be a motion whereby the Minister would have such an opportunity. The Minister talked about accounting afterwards but, of course, lives are at stake in these issues and the consequences are very significant. It is a matter of coming before the Houses and accounting for what is happening. The core thing is that when authority is transferred to another force commander or to another force - any force - there are different reasons.

I will not go back to section 3. As the House will be aware, I have three amendments in respect of section 3 that I will move later. There are core elements of what the purposes within that would be. Take, for example, a force commander of a country that has had a NATO mandate or has a mandate in terms of the military protection of interests, which many countries have, versus the military protection of principles, versus the protection of rights, versus the humanitarian and human rights mandate. Those are the mandates of Irish military actors. That is why we are so proud of them. It is one of the reasons they are so effective. I am just saying there is something to be lost here if we make it too wide or too ambiguous as to what might happen and what kinds of things the Irish military might do. As a Legislature, we have a responsibility to be confident, if we are having force command transferred, that the purposes for which it is being transferred are consistent with Ireland's policy and very proud record, which outlives and predates any one government and will outlive the next government. I refer to the mandate we have had and the tradition Ireland has had of being a very strong peacebuilder and being regarded as a good faith actor and as not engaging in military action out of self-interest or for the purposes of simple power alignment. That is a really strong record Ireland has, and it is really important we maintain it. This amendment would give the Minister, or any Minister who may come after him, the opportunity to come before the Houses of the Oireachtas and explain the decisions he has made, why there has been delegation, what its purpose is and why it is good or necessary. Then we can continue on that basis. Again, the amendment addresses exactly those issues of timely action the Minister spoke about.

I wish to respond to some of the issues Senator Higgins raised. There are two things primarily, the first of which is the suggestion the Minister made in his speech and the case for this amendment. I think, if I have understood what the Minister said in his last response, that the opposite is the case. I do not see how this amendment in any way addresses the fact that these issues might arise quite rapidly or during a recess, for example when the Houses are not sitting, which would create a significant difficulty.

The other point - and I think it is often talked about here - is the role of the Legislature. I, more than anyone, value the role of the Legislature and I think it is incredibly important to hold the Government and the Executive to account. However, when we talk about the separation of powers, let us be in no doubt at all that there is really no separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature in our constitutional system. In fact, the Constitution de facto mandates the Executive to have control over the Legislature. It has to do so. It has to have a majority in the Houses; otherwise, it cannot function under our system. Therefore, when Senator Higgins talks about democracy and its application, the democratic element of this is in fact the Minister's decision. He is the delegate of the Houses of the Oireachtas, specifically the Dáil, to make these decisions as a member of the Executive. To a certain extent we have to trust in him or her - whoever the officeholder is at that time - to make those decisions. The Senator is quite right when she refers to these being matters of life and death, but again, we must trust in the Minister to make those decisions appropriately. We should also remember that whatever decision the Minister of the day makes, he or she is accountable to these Houses.

As for rendering an explanation to these Houses, there is ample opportunity for the Minister to do that. The problem I have with this suggested amendment, however, is that it would essentially tie the Minister's hands behind his or her back in making decisions as required because he or she would have to take a relatively long lead-in to get a motion passed before both Houses. It is all very well to say we will have plenty of time to do that and we will have plenty of time to get around before that decision has to be made, but what happens if the issue or the difficulties arise, for example, in mid-July? As for extending the delegation of operational control, we have to trust in the Minister to make that decision himself or herself at the right time while, equally, as the Minister said in his response earlier, being accountable to the Houses for how or why that decision was made.

Force commanders have a certain amount of control over our troops on the ground but a senior liaison officer from the Irish Defence Forces is always on the ground, and if a force commander is trying to bring us into something in which we should not be involved, the senior liaison has a route straight back to the Minister's office and it can be stopped at that point. I am not, therefore, sure that people understand the limited control a force commander has. He or she does not have absolute control over all our troops.

For clarification, perhaps it was not clear for Senator Ward. I am happy to try to tighten the language if that helps him. Under this amendment, the Minister would be able to delegate operational control but simply not for a period longer than eight months without coming back to the Oireachtas. It was, therefore, specifically trying to address that issue of the emergency action of June or July. Under that action, for example, a Minister may have delegated operational control to a force commander for a six-month period but then might have come back to the Oireachtas. That is why I have given the eight-month period. It is not as the lead-in but, in fact, the time the Minister has before he or she would have to come to the Oireachtas.

In terms of the delegation of powers to the Minister, that is what the legislation is doing. Therefore, that is us; the Legislature. In deciding when we delegate powers to Ministers, it is appropriate that we also put in place what we regard as appropriate safeguards and checks and balances. I am suggesting here that the Minister would come, discuss and seek approval. Again, the Government, if it has the majority, will probably pass that motion but it would allow that decision to be made clear, not simply within the internal Department of Defence mechanisms, which I accept are in place, but in terms of the legislative mechanism. The power is not, therefore, delegated simply by becoming Minister. The delegation of powers comes through legislation. In fact, we give a large amount of delegation but we also put in place safeguards. I believe that is an appropriate balance. I honestly believe amendment No. 2 is incredibly reasonable.

Okay. We have been back and forth a bit. Before I call Senator Ward, it might be a good idea to let the Minister respond.

Yes, I know there are time restraints.

I know the Senator is aware of how peacekeeping missions actually work but it is important to put on the record that, first, we do not decide on the mandate of UN missions. The UN decides on it. We influence that through the UN process. In fact, we have been very successful at influencing a slight change in the mandate of our largest mission, that is, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, over the summer months to allow UNIFIL to be more proactive in assisting the Lebanese armed forces, which are under enormous financial pressure at the moment because of the condition of Lebanon as a country in terms of financial strain and so forth whereby basic salaries are not being paid. That is, therefore, a good example of Ireland trying to influence a mandate for a mission that has been in place for a very long time. Ultimately, however, what a UN-mandated mission actually does is decided in New York at UN headquarters.

A force commander is then chosen and sometimes we have had Irish force commanders in UNIFIL, the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF, and others. The job of that force commander then is to implement the UN-mandated mission. In the context of UNIFIL, many countries and thousands of troops are involved. The idea that there would not be some delegation to a force commander to ensure that he or she can make practical decisions to make sure there is interoperability between different troop-contributing countries in the context of the implementation of a UN mandate to my mind is-----

That is not what is opposed.

I am not saying the Senator is opposing it. I am just outlining the steps that are taken for anybody who is listening. The suggestion seems to have been made that we need to have an Oireachtas check and balance over a delegation we have given for many years. We are now simply putting in a good piece of legislation for the practice that currently takes place.

The Senator said repeatedly that Irish people and the Oireachtas are very proud of the role that Irish peacekeepers have held for many decades. I am glad they are because I am very proud of it. What we are doing in this legislation, however, is maintaining the same approach we have taken across those decades in terms of what has been a delegation process, which was not written into legislation. That has now been corrected. We are not, therefore, putting anything new in here. What is being suggested with the amendments is that we put something new in here, that is, an extra check and balance, which requires a Minister to come through the Oireachtas and limits him or her to giving a delegation for more than eight months. As it happens, we have rotations every six months for the UN missions, which require a new delegation each time. Every time I inspect a battalion, therefore, which I did yesterday in County Limerick with the one that is on its way to join UNIFIL in southern Lebanon in the next few weeks, under the new leadership, that will require a new delegation that will allow the force commander to work with that contingent in the way he or she has done for many years.

Let us be clear. This is not a policy decision involved in the delegation that needs scrutiny, checks and balance and so on. This is something we have done for many years. It is simply a practical arrangement that allows countries that are sending troops to a UN-mandated mission, under a force commander who has been chosen by the UN, to ensure that they can operate under that command structure. Senator Craughwell is correct. If the lead officer in the Irish contingent at any point feels that Irish troops are being asked to do something that is outside the mandate or that he or she is uncomfortable with doing, there is a check and balance here that can allow him or her to effectively call a stop to that.

It is not like I am giving an instruction allowing a force commander to do things outside a UN mandate or in the case of non-UN-mandated missions. I am simply using the same principle to allow a force commander to be able to operate a large contingent to keep everybody safe and perform the mission they are being asked to do.

Senator Higgins knows much of that but perhaps other people listening may think this is some new piece of legislation that allows a Minister for Defence to do new things or send Irish troops to parts of the world under the command of foreign force commanders and, somehow, that is new. It is not. This is putting into legislation what we have been doing for decades and simply putting a proper legal structure around it with all the safeguards that come with that.

I will certainly be happy to bring one but perhaps the Minister would like to bring forward an amendment that clarifies matters with regard to UN missions. I do not believe that is the concern and the Minister will see from my many other amendments that UN missions are not the main concern.

I accept that we seek to influence them and we have sought to influence UNIFIL. I believe that Ireland should, for example, continue to engage with and seek to influence the UN mission in Western Sahara at the moment to expand it to have a human rights observatory function rather than simply a referendum - which is not happening - monitoring function. That is fine. All the examples the Minister gave were the United Nations, however. Going back to what we discussed previously, the fact is that these are not all United Nations missions. They are not all United Nations mandates. Yes, there is a structure and, perhaps, I or the Minister might bring a revised version of this whereby he would say that where it is not a UN mission or a UN-mandated mission under, for example, an established structure with the six-month rotations, and if there are-----

Can the Senator give me an example? I am trying to understand what the concern is here. What kinds of missions is the Senator concerned about in places where we currently have a presence?

The concern we have is not what we have currently but what we might have. There is a new element in this, which is that the Minister can delegate to any force. It goes back to that phrase "any force", and it is not any force as constrained even by the definition of international organisation in the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006, although I personally think that is quite wide. It is any force and there is a concern in that regard. Yes, checks and balances are put in place in terms of our United Nations missions.

Such missions are certainly not the target or intention of this provision but, rather, where there are other forces or engagements. With respect, when we talk of the things we are proud of, I was in the Chamber three or four years ago when we were debating joining Operation Sophia. Everybody spoke about how proud they were of the navy and I pointed out that, in fact, the legislation we were passing would lead to our delegating operational control differently and working, in effect, within Operation Sophia rather than to the mandate we had. I know there are reasons-----

We did not have a mandate; there was no mandate.

We had a bilateral arrangement with Italy. It was an Irish command and it was not delegating command to the Italian coast guard but working in collaboration with it.

There was no formal arrangement; that was the problem.

I know that, but that mission was under our direct command, whereas we delegated operational control under Operation Sophia. The nature of the mission changed and that is where circumstances changed. It is good that when it was decided under Operation Sophia to stop doing search and rescue completely, we withdrew ships. However, this amendment would mean that if we had a situation such as Operation Sophia and the force command, to which the power had been transferred, decided to change the focus of the operation, including what it was doing and prioritising, there would be an opportunity for the Oireachtas to express concern about the continuation of that mission where, as in this instance, it was not a UN mission and was not operating under UN parameters.

It is appropriate that we should have that capacity. I am glad there is a line command mechanism for the expression of concern but it is reasonable that the Legislature would also have a mechanism for expressing concern. I may bring forward amendments on Report Stage if the Minister does not want to have to seek the approval of the Oireachtas. We should have mechanisms whereby the Oireachtas can express concern, in a similar way to what we have heard happens internally in the Department, where there are issues regarding the continuation of a mission. Whether it is a matter of the Minister coming to us or our being able to request that he or she come to us, it is something that needs to be addressed. We have been discussing examples of UN missions but that is not what is in contention. The issue is the other, wider parameters applying, as the Minister said, to international forces, which may be any force. If we had addressed that core issue of being clear on exactly what kinds of international forces are in question, most of these other concerns would not arise. Given that the provision is so widely framed, we need to have an additional safeguard in place. I will bring forward another version of this amendment that specifically excludes UN missions but requests that there be a mechanism in respect of other missions.

I am a little concerned at what is being proposed. Force commanders, whether they are on a UN mission, EU mission or any other mission that has been jointly agreed, are constrained by the criteria set out in the mission. If, by some manner or means, we have a force commander who runs wild and decides to undertake something that was not in the mandate, then it falls to the senior Irish officer in the mission to get on to the Department and say, "Look, we are being ordered to do something here." Let us say there is a force commander in UNIFIL who orders an attack. That is not the role of such a mission nor the purpose of such a force. We have a senior liaison officer in place who is going to put a stop to it.

As the Minister said, we have delegated authority since the late 1950s to force commanders. The latter must have manoeuvrability and be able to move a company from point A to point B where there is a problem. If he or she has to come back seeking permission to do it every time and there is a requirement to go back to the Oireachtas every eight months to get authority, that will prolong every mission. As the Minister said, we are rotating troops every six months, delegation goes out at that stage and the force commander has limited command over Irish troops. He or she does not have carte blanche to do whatever he or she wants. The Minister has pointed out that when the most recent Irish force commander in the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon had control over other troops there - her name slips my mind; I am having a senior moment - their countries retained the right to say "No" at any given stage. I am a little concerned about this proposal given that we do not have the facility for a force commander to run rogue.

I want to make a final point. First, we are involved in Operation Sophia and we have Defence Force personnel - I believe there are three of them; certainly, there are two naval officers - in the headquarters of the operation. The reason we do not have a ship in the Mediterranean is that we do not have the crewing resources and so on to do so right now. Unfortunately, some of our ships are tied up because of the challenges posed by staffing numbers in the Naval Service. That is something we are working on fixing. We did not pull out of Operation Sophia because we did not like the direction it was taking. Ireland has always maintained - I was the person involved in ensuring this is the case - that EU operations in the Mediterranean need to have a humanitarian aspect as well as an enforcement aspect. That is what we bring to the debates. In the case of the practical operations in the Mediterranean, Ireland brought a fantastic capacity around humanitarian interventions, which is something I would like to do more of in the context of both our Naval Service and Air Corps being involved in UN-mandated missions, in particular, in different parts of the world, but also, from time to time, taking part in EU-mandated missions, if that is the right thing to do.

We are quite constrained by law in how and under what circumstances we send Irish Defence Forces personnel to other parts of world and with whom we can co-operate in that regard. We will talk a bit more about the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006 presently. In that legislation, an "international organisation" is defined as comprising:

(a) the United Nations,

(b) the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe,

(c) the European Union or any institution or body of the European Union, or

(d) any regional arrangement or agency that participates, or has participated, in operations as part of an International United Nations Force;

That definition is quite constrained. Senator Higgins wants to tighten it further, which we will discuss shortly. We already have quite a lot of safeguards in place, more than in virtually any other country in the European Union. In addition, of course, we have the triple lock system, which I am very supportive of because it gives reassurance for the political system. Ministers in this country are part of the Legislature as well as the Executive; that is not the case in many other countries. If I were not part of the Legislature, I would understand that there might be a need for a strong debate on checks and balances between the Legislature and Executive. In Ireland, however, Ministers are part of both and are accountable in that context.

I do not accept that it is appropriate to layer in an eight-month limit on top of all the checks and balances that are in place. In practice, most missions have rotation periods that do not exceed six months. That goes for both UN missions and non-UN missions. There is a requirement every six months to update them. I emphasise the point that a delegation order is not that big a deal in the context that it is what we have been doing for many years. It has been agreed by the Defence Forces in terms of its appropriateness and also agreed by the Department of Defence. This is not a major policy consideration; it is an operational issue in terms of command structures when multiple countries are involved in a peacekeeping mission together. I do not want to read more into this issue than perhaps is really there.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 2 agreed to.
Sections 3 to 16, inclusive, agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 12, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

"Amendment of section 1 of Act of 2006

17. Section 1 of the Act of 2006 is amended by the deletion of ", or has participated,".".

The Minister has usefully read the definition of "international organisation" into the record, which saves me having to do so. I would note that in the Bill in front of us, it is not "international organisation" that is in the definition section but "international force". It refers to a "United Nations Force or any force", so the definition that applies to international organisation is relevant to section 3(1)(a) of the 2006 Act. However, that definition does not constrain international force as it is set out in this Bill. One of my concerns is that "international organisation" is quite clearly constrained in the original 2006 Act whereas "any force" is far more widely construed in this legislation and as it relates to those other parts of section 3 and those other actions under that section.

I am concerned about how the original definition in the 2006 Act is framed and believe it is framed too widely. The United Nations is there, appropriately, as is the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE. The latter has an important role to play in election observation and so forth. The European Union or institutions or bodies of the EU are there too but it is very important we are clear on our mandates in terms of what we engage with and how we do so at that level. Concern arises with regard to "any regional arrangement or agency that participates, or has participated, in operations as part of an International United Nations Force", specifically with "has participated". It should not be the case that we would be engaging with a regional arrangement or agency that is not conducting operations as part of an international UN force and that we would engage simply because it has done so in the past. My example falls within the EU, so it is not perfect, but Germany engaged in certain activities as part of NATO but has also engaged in UN activities. Clarity is required because many countries may engage in UN peacekeeping activities but they may also engage in other things. Similarly, regional arrangements or agencies may engage in international UN-mandated missions but they may also engage in other kinds of missions. The fact they have participated at some time in the past in an international UN force does not mean, therefore, that every single thing we might do with them is fine. In fact, I would say it should only apply where they are participating in operations as part of an international UN force.

I propose that the language that would be used would be any regional arrangement or agency that participates in operations as part of a UN force and that we remove the phrase "or has participated" so that we are not simply saying the fact an entity was once involved in a UN mission means everything it does militarily in the future is fine, that it is fine for us to engage with it and that such an entity is an international organisation to which we can second Irish forces under section 3(1)(a). It would be appropriate to give both narrowness and clarity on that matter. There are a range of different kinds of actions and very few countries have the same military position and military history as Ireland, which is important in terms of how we engage with them. Similarly, many agencies and regional arrangements will have a different military history.

Are amendments Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, grouped?

Amendment No. 4 also relates to section 3(1)(a) of the 2006 Act which lists the different kinds of purposes for which people may be seconded. Section 3(1)(f) refers to humanitarian tasks and I have no problem with that. Many of the others are also very appropriate although "reconnaissance or fact-finding" could be problematic, depending on what we are doing them for and for whom we are doing them. I will leave that aside for the moment but I may come back to it. Section 3(1)(a) refers to "carrying out duties as a military representative or filling appointments or postings outside the State, including secondments to any international organisation". It is made clear elsewhere in the Act that those secondments may apply to whole portions of troops. I am proposing in amendment No. 4 that in section 3(1)(a), we should say "an" instead of "any" to make it very clear and that we should insert the following subsection:

(3) In exercising its functions under subsection (1)(a), the Government shall only approve secondment of a contingent or member of the Permanent Defence Force to an international organisation which is not the United Nations or part of an International United Nations Force, where such a secondment is for the purposes specified in subsection (1)(f).

Subsection (1)(f) refers specifically to humanitarian or emergency action. I have proposed an alternative version in amendment No. 5 which provides for secondment to an international organisation "under a United Nations mandate".

Amendment No. 4 seeks specifically to protect the capacity for emergency and humanitarian action by naming it, but amendment No. 5 is probably better because I do not think we need to name subsection (1)(f). There is capacity under the Act for the Minister to delegate control to a force commander for any purpose under section 3, which includes humanitarian action under section 3(1)(f). The Minister can already delegate directly and does not have to go through section 3(1)(a) to do so. He can delegate to a force commander for any of the purposes listed in section 3(1), but I am trying to caveat that where he is not employing section 3(1)(b), 3(1)(c), 3(1)(d) or 3(1)(f) and is employing 3(1)(a), which specifically refers to the secondment of a contingent or member of the Defence Forces to an international organisation, the organisation in question should be operating under a UN mandate.

I have approached it in two different ways but I believe amendment No. 5 is the better way. I have sought to clarify my intent by offering an alternative approach in amendment No. 4.

I will read my written response to these amendments but also respond verbally to Senator Higgins. I understand the point she is making but there are other roles to be considered. For example, we have a military representative in Brussels and in New York. We can have a military representative to the OSCE. These representatives are not on humanitarian missions. I can second someone to an organisation for many different reasons, potentially, including to try to influence policy, for example. That could be the women, peace and security agenda which Ireland is trying to drive through the Security Council and reinforcing that within organisations and so on. When I decide to second a member of the Defence Forces to an organisation in some other part of the world, it does not necessarily mean it is for a mission on the ground that involves peacekeeping or other interventions. It could be for something much more mundane.

The OSCE is not operating to a UN mandate and neither is the EU but both work with the UN. NATO often operates and works in partnership with the UN but it often does its own thing as well. It is the same for organisations like the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, SADC, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, and so on.

There are lots of different organisations around the world where we may choose to have a military person seconded and that may make sense for us to try to influence outcomes or to gain a greater understanding. For example, we have two military personnel seconded to Europe's cybersecurity research centre in Tallinn because we think that we can gain knowledge and expertise in the cybersecurity space when we bring them home again. It is important to emphasise the point, because Senator Higgins has linked the delegation to a force commander, which makes the assumption that every time I decide to send a member of the Permanent Defence Force to some other part of the world, it is always on a mission under a force commander. A lot of the time it is not. Much of the time it is a different kind of role related to training, operational assistance or whatever else.

The Senator is proposing a number of amendments to the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006. However, if accepted, her amendments would result in fundamental change to what is a long-standing and settled policy on the dispatch of military contingents for overseas service. The effect of the amendments would be that the Minister for Defence could not appoint any personnel to a posting in the EU or to the Partnership for Peace, in terms of the liaison office, the OSCE, or similar organisations. It is vital to our national interests in terms of engaging with and influencing developments in these spheres that we have that capacity.

The amendments to the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006 set out in section 17 are separate and focused on removing the prohibition contained within section 3 of that Act on members of the Reserve Defence Force, RDF, serving as members of a contingent, which can be dispatched for overseas service for the purposes specified in the 2006 Act. Having carefully considered the matter, I have serious concerns about the implications of the amendments. I hear where the Senator is coming from on it, but there is a broader issue here as well whereby a lot of our Permanent Defence Force personnel get seconded overseas for periods of time, as they are nearly all temporary secondments. Sometimes it is not a boots-on-the-ground type mission. It is often something very different to that, which is why we have a very active military person seconded to Brussels and to other key decision-making bodies where we need to try to influence outcomes as best we can.

I appreciate the secondment of individuals and I am very aware that there are some individuals from the Irish armed forces who play very important roles internationally and in some cases have gone on to take on significant UN roles. John Ging is one such individual who has contributed very much in the international sphere. The concern, however, relates to contingents.

The Minister referred to the Reserve Defence Force. There was much discussion of the RDF on Second Stage. That is generally widely welcomed. I have not tabled amendments in that regard. The point is that the secondment does not just relate to individuals, it sometimes refers to contingents. In that case, numbers are involved. I accept that I may need to refine the amendment, but I have concerns. Perhaps the way to do it would be to look at having a different standard for a member versus a contingent of the forces, or it may be about tying it more directly to where section 3(1)(a) is being used for the delegation of operational control. The question is whether we address the delegation at the point of operational control. Perhaps instead of saying under section 3, it is under section 3, except for subsection (1)(a) where certain things apply. I do not want to stop us having individuals contributing at a high level in these organisations - I hope contributing very much from Ireland's perspective and from the perspective of principles rather than power and simply alliances.

This is a real crunch point at the moment internationally about whether we pursue the politics of principle. There is quite a lot of pressure internationally to move away from that multilateral system towards a politics of power and alliances. If we can be a force for good in that respect, that is great, but we also need to have safeguards so that we do not get pulled in a direction. In some senses, when I am trying to put safeguards into the legislation, I am also trying to make sure that Ireland has safeguards and that we are clear on why we cannot do things and what we cannot do and what is not part of what we can do. That is why I wish to add a caveat here.

I accept that I need to word the amendment differently, but I would prefer if the Minister would offer clarification on Report Stage on section 3(1)(a). Perhaps the difference is when it is a contingent versus when it is an individual. There is also a difference where there is a transfer of operational control involved. For example, we must ensure we have clarity on that. I return to the point I made, which the Minister might address, on the question of having participated in a United Nations mission versus doing so on an ongoing basis. We must also be clear on that. The OSCE and the European institutions are there, but I am concerned about any regional agreement or agency. The Minister mentioned NATO. I know we have co-operated with countries. We even have a group with whom we have co-operated on the one hand that has also engaged with NATO. This was debated when we looked at what-----

So does the UN.

But nonetheless, we need to be very clear on where and how we engage. Of course the UN has to engage with NATO, because NATO involves many of the military actors in the world. If Ireland is going to be a champion of peace-building and peacekeeping involving NATO, which is ultimately an alliance of interests and like-minded countries in a particular military pact, we must be clear on the lines where things come in. As the Minister said, NATO may have engaged in activity with the United Nations, but that does not mean that we should do things with NATO. In that sense, where I refer to any regional arrangement or agency, it is reasonable that we would engage with any regional arrangement or agency that is participating in operations for a United Nations force and we also have the European Union there and the OSCE. The reference to "has participated" is a little loose.

If the Senator takes some of the organisations that I mentioned previously – NATO, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, the African Union, SADC, ASEAN, they are all organisations that have at different times been involved with NATO on certain projects but currently, as far as I know, probably are not. Perhaps one or two of them are, but most of them are not. We do have to ensure that we can work with credible international organisations when the case is justifiable.

Let me give an example of working with NATO, which some see as controversial. When the mission justifies it and it is consistent with Irish values and what Ireland wants to contribute to international peace and security, then we make decisions to co-operate with international organisations. We had Permanent Defence Force personnel in Afghanistan working with NATO on a demining programme which had a UN mandate. That is how the world works. Organisations work with each other to try to intervene. When we regard the mission as one consistent with our values and there is accountability around all of that, we can intervene. Most of the time the triple lock applies. To me, that is what neutrality means. It is active neutrality. We decide when and where we intervene. We have a system of checks and balances around that. We operate to a value system and to a model that respects international law and works for the most part under a UN mandate or a UN-approved mission. On the odd occasion we do that within the confines of the EU also. That is what has made Ireland as effective and as impactful as we have been in the past five or six decades.

When we choose to make an intervention, it is because of a humanitarian driver or value system that we espouse. That could be in the Mediterranean, a training mission in Mali, or a de-mining programme in Afghanistan. The partners we use are the partners that allow us to do the job most effectively. We do not necessarily take a principled stand because we do not like something else that the partner has done. For example, we do not always agree with the EU on everything, but we are an EU member and we work together. We are not a member of NATO. We are not proposing to be a member of NATO. That does not mean, however, that we cannot work in partnership with NATO on certain projects that are consistent with an Irish value system, from a foreign policy or defence perspective. That is all I am saying.

I will take the Senator's specific proposed amendments one after the other. I have answered the first one regarding "or has participated". We do not want to exclude organisations because they are not currently working on a UN mandate. Most organisations who work with the UN do so at different times, and at other times they will not be working with it. By excluding "has participated in", one would essentially only allow us to potentially deploy or work with organisations that are currently working under a UN mandate. That is unnecessarily restrictive.

On the second issue, the Senator wanted to remove the term "any international organisation". She wanted to replace it with "an international organisation under a UN mandate". In section 1 in the Defence Amendment Act 2006, any "international organisation" is defined as:

"(a) the United Nations,

(b) the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe,

(c) the European Union or any institution or body of the European Union, or

(d) any regional arrangement or agency that participates, or has participated, in operations as part of an International United Nations Force;"

That is a defined list of organisations. It does not open us up to any alliance, or anything like that. The Senator is most concerned about section 1(d), which states, "any regional arrangement or agency that participates, or has participated in, operations as part of an International United Nations Force." In order for one to participate in a UN force, one has to be credible, and one has to have been shown to be credible. That narrows down significantly the list of organisations to which we could potentially second people for duties as a military representative, filling an appointment, or posting outside the State. Most of the time, secondments are of individuals or small numbers of people being posted. If it were a larger contingent of permanent Defence Forces, other cheques and balances would apply. Most of the time, this refers to the triple lock, unless it is a specific humanitarian intervention or training intervention, which is not seen as a military intervention, per se. When a situation potentially involves arms, it would, from my understanding, require a triple lock.

I think I have addressed the key issues that the Senator has raised in those three proposed amendments. I will think about this debate between now and Report Stage, but honestly, we are quite well covered with the 2006 legislation. Changing it in the direction that these proposed amendments suggest could potentially exclude Ireland from making a constructive contribution when the Irish public might well want us to intervene in partnership with another international organisation that is credible.

Nothing in my proposed amendment about the removal of "or has participated" would have precluded the example the Minister gave of Afghanistan. There is a big difference between working with NATO under a UN mandate, which again, would still be allowed under my proposed change. That would be then a regional force that was operating or participating under a UN mandated mission. That would be covered by my language that I proposed-----

When the Senator previously mentioned NATO, she mentioned it in the context that it is an organisation we should never be working with.

No, it was in the context that we have worked with NATO under a UN mandate. That does not simply mean that it is always fine to work with NATO.

We can agree on that.

This is my concern. My concern is with the way this is worded and framed at the moment. It suggests that any organisation that has worked under a UN mandate could become an organisation to which we could second staff, or to which we could second a contingent of the Irish Defence Forces. Moreover, with this new legislation, it could be an organisation to which we could delegate command. In that context, that is exactly my point. If we are working with NATO under a UN mandate, that is fine. That is what we are doing. However, simply having done that before, by working with NATO on mine clearance under a UN mandate in the past should not mean that NATO should be given a stamp of approval, because it has once done something with us for the UN. Therefore, it might become a regional force to which we second persons or to which we may delegate command control. That is the concern. That is where the "or has participated" is relevant. This is my-----

How is NATO different? If we were considering this while NATO was working under a UN mandate on a project in Afghanistan, under the Senator's amendment, NATO would have been an organisation we could work with. However, under the Senator's proposed amendment, as soon as that UN mandate is over we could no longer work with NATO.

That is what I am suggesting.

How does that make sense? The organisation does not change.

It makes sense because we are militarily non-aligned. We should not be working with a military bloc, a military contigent, and a regional grouping that is aligned, that acts on the basis of interests, and that acts on a completely different mandate to us, except in situations where we share a common mandate in a United Nations activity. That is appropriate-----

We are talking about-----

The Senator should be allowed to make her statements without interruptions.

Sorry. We are talking about seconding people here.

Yes, I am talking about seconding people in that context. I have taken on board the Minister's point about the difference between seconding individuals and seconding contingents. However, the legislation as it stands allows for the seconding of a contingent - a whole group of Irish military forces - to an international organisation. These international organisations could, as has been outlined, include NATO. The new legislation allows for the formalisation of command control. I do not think that this scenario is likely to happen, but our laws should be clear on it. That is part of international credibility. Our international credibility should not just be down to a series of good decisions. It should be around being clear that we are militarily non-aligned in politics that are based on interest, and on military blocs that take action in preservation of their own members' interests. That is not what Ireland does. I am trying to ensure that we are clear on that.

We have only seven more minutes.

Can the Minister respond so we can put the question?

We want to get to Report Stage for next week.

I am listening to Senator Higgins. However, let us not layer in the issues around delegation of command to force commanders with the issues of secondments into international organisations, whether it is the African Union, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, or whoever. These are entirely different issues. We have had good debate with a delegation from the Minister around what it means to operate with a force commander. It is good to have had that discussion. However, that is simply doing what we have always done. We are now putting that now into law. The issue the Senator raised could potentially tie a Minister's hands about where they could send someone on secondment or posting outside of the State to any international organisation. If we start linking that to an organisation that has a UN mandate at that point in time, we are into a crazy space of saying that we can only second somebody to, for example, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, if they have a UN mandate at the time.

That is not the effect I meant, because it said "any European agency". I did change that.

I take that point. I may be exaggerating for effect to make a point. However, that scenario could be interpreted by the Senator's amendments. I know she makes a distinction between sending a contingent of Defence Force personnel on a peacekeeping mission, or an intervention mission of some sort, with postings. The wording of the Senator's proposed amendments, however, do not make that distinction.

From an Irish perspective, there are a lot of checks and balances. The idea that I would send a contingent of Defence Forces personnel anywhere in the world without it being thoroughly scrutinised in the Oireachtas is very unlikely. We are very careful before we make decisions, and before we choose a partner to work with, of the obligations that I have in the Executive but also as a part of the Legislature to ensure the appropriate checks and balances are there. I think the 2006 Act does a pretty good job at setting the parameters around the circumstances in which we can send permanent Defence Forces personnel overseas, where we can send them, under what conditions we can do so and with what partners we can do so. It is pretty defined.

Honestly, my only motivation is to ensure that if a Minister for Defence who follows me in the future wants to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to something terrible that is happening in some part of the world, he or she does not get tied up in legislation that prevents him or her from doing that. The legislation at the moment does a pretty good job in terms of getting the balance right but I will reflect on our conversation before Report Stage.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 12, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 3 of Act of 2006

17. Section 3 of the Act of 2006 is amended—

(a) in subsection (1)(a) by the substitution of “an” for “any”, and

(b) by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (2):

“(3) In exercising its functions under subsection (1)(a), the Government shall only approve secondment of a contingent or member of the Permanent Defence Force to an international organisation which is not the United Nations or part of an International United Nations Force, where such a secondment is for the purposes specified in subsection (1)(f).”.”.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 12, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 3 of Act of 2006

17. Section 3 of the Act of 2006 is amended in subsection (1)(a) by the insertion of “under a United Nations mandate” after “international organisation”.”.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 17 and 18 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.

When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Dé Máirt seo chugainn.

Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 26 October 2021.
Sitting suspended at 5.14 p.m. and resumed at 5.32 p.m.