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.