Thursday, 11 March 2004

Questions (88, 89)

Jack Wall

Question:

89 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding serving soldiers in Liberia in regard to holiday release; the position regarding costs in regard to flights back to Ireland; if his Department will meet the costs of such flights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8161/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Defence)

Defence personnel serving in the United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNMIL, are entitled to 21 days annual leave for the duration of their tour of duty — six months.

I am advised that the average cost of a return commercial scheduled flight ticket Dublin-Monrovia is €2,200. However, the position is that members of the Irish contingent in UNMIL will have the opportunity to avail of a subsidised leave flight to Ireland during their tour of duty in UNMIL. I have agreed to allow personnel serving in UNMIL to avail of aircraft chartered for the deployment, consignment and-or repatriation of personnel, stores and equipment to and from the mission area. Access to these flights may be made available, space permitting, to personnel who are availing of leave, travelling to or from the mission area on duty or being repatriated or repatriating from the mission area.

In the case of personnel who are availing of the flights for leave purposes, a contribution of €500 has to be provided by each individual and a mechanism to have the sum deducted at source from the individual's overseas allowance has been agreed with the Department's financial accounts section.

Two re-supply flights have already taken place on 17 and 18 February and 9 and 10 March. The planned dates for the remaining re-supply flights are as follows: 30-31 March, 20-21 April, 31 May-01 June, 7-8 June, 10-11 August, 30-31 August, 22-23 September, 11-12 October, 22-23 November and 29-30 November.

I hope the provision of this type of facility will go some way towards providing a means to enable personnel to avail of leave in Ireland with their families.

Enda Kenny

Question:

90 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Defence if he will amend legislation and regulations which will allow for the grant of a death benefit in respect of Defence Forces personnel serving overseas with OSCE, EU and NATO on peace missions not mandated by the United Nations; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Army Pensions Act regulations do not allow for this; the number of Army personnel of the Defence Force personnel servicing on such missions currently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8221/04]

View answer

There are currently 798 members of the Permanent Defence Force, PDF, serving overseas, 755 of whom are deployed on international UN mandated or authorised peace-support operations, including 696 personnel with UNMIL, the United Nations Mission in Liberia, and KFOR, international security presence in Kosovo. The other 43 personnel are deployed overseas in an administrative, staff, observer or advisory capacity on other missions, none of which are armed operations. These include the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, OSCE, the European Union Monitor Mission, EUMM, to the former Yugoslavia and other military appointments in Europe and New York. A full breakdown of the numbers of personnel on the various overseas missions is given below.

As I indicated to the Deputy in my reply to his Question No. 183 on 3 March 2004, where a member of the PDF is killed in the course of duty or dies from a wound received in the course of duty, whether on duty at home or overseas, enhanced spouse's and children's allowances are payable under the Army Pensions Acts. In addition, the standard death gratuity under the Defence Forces pensions schemes and any widow/er's entitlements under the Social Welfare Acts are payable.

As I also indicated, additional lump sum death benefits would be payable under my Department's special extra-statutory compensation scheme where a member of the PDF was killed in the course of duty while serving overseas with an international United Nations force. The question of extending this special scheme to personnel serving with the OSCE and other such overseas missions is under consideration in my Department.

Permanent Defence Force — breakdown of numbers serving on overseas duty

No.

1.

UN Missions

vii(i) UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)

7

vi(ii) UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation) — Israel, Syria and Lebanon

14

v(iii) UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus)

6

ii(iv) MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara)

4

iii(v) UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo)

3

ii(vi) UNMISET (United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor)

1

i(vii) MONUC (United Nations Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo)

3

(viii) MINUCI (United Nations Mission in Ivory Coast)

2

ii(ix) UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia)

435

TOTAL

475

UN Mandated Missions

iii(x) SFOR (Stabilisation Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina SFOR HQ Sarajevo)

12

ii(xi) KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo)

261

i(xii) ISAF (International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan)

7

Total number of personnel serving with UN missions

755

2.

EU Mission

European Union Monitor Mission (EUMM) to the former Yugoslavia

11

3.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

vii(i) OSCE Mission to Bosnia & Herzegovina

vi(ii) OSCE Mission in Croatia

1

v(iii) OSCE Mission in Kosovo

1

ii(iv) OSCE Presence in Albania

1

iii(v) OSCE Mission in Former Republic of Yugoslavia

1

ii(vi) OSCE Mission in Macedonia

1

i(vii) OSCE Mission in Georgia

4

(viii) Staff Officer, Higher Level Planning Group, Vienna

1

Total number of personnel serving OSCE

11

4.

Head of Military Staff (Brussels)

1

5.

EU Military Staff (Brussels)

6

6.

Liaison Office of Ireland, PfP (Brussels)

2

7.

Permanent Representative to EU (Brussels)

6

8.

Military Representatives/ Advisers

vii(i) Military Adviser, Permanent Mission to UN, New York

1

vi(ii) Military Adviser, Irish Delegation to OSCE, Vienna

1

v(iii) Military Representative to Partnership Co-ordination Cell/Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers v(iii) Europe (SHAPE), Mons, Belgium

1

ii(iv) Military Adviser to EU Special Representative in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaii(iv) (FYROM)

1

9.

Appointments — UN HQ (New York)

Officers seconded to DPKO (Department of Peace Keeping Operations)

2

TOTAL NUMBER SERVING OVERSEAS

798