Thursday, 26 May 2016

Questions (264)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

264. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans for the Defence Forces to participate in any European Union battle groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12329/16]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Participation in the EU Battlegroups demonstrates Ireland’s commitment to the development of EU capabilities in the area of crisis management and contributes to our reputation as professional and effective peacekeepers and our credibility within the Union.

Ireland's participation in the Nordic Battlegroup in 2008, 2011 and 2015 and the Austro-German Battlegroup in 2012 has enhanced the Defence Forces’ understanding of the operational doctrine and processes of other EU Member States enabling them to work more effectively with other nations in a multinational environment and has served to enhance the Defence Forces reputation as a provider of a credible military capability for crisis management operations.

The Defence Forces participation in Battlegroups supports Ireland’s efforts in securing partners for UN blue hat operations due to the close civil and military relationships built through our participation. For example, Finland, which participated in the Nordic Battlegroup has since partnered with Ireland in Chad and remains partnered with Ireland in Lebanon.

In January 2014, the Government approved Ireland’s participation in the German led EU Battlegroup 2016 , which will be on stand-by for the second six months of 2016. The Defence Forces contribution to the Battlegroup will involve a Recce/ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target, Acquisition and Reconnaissance) Company together with staff posts at both the Operational and Force headquarters. The total number of Irish Defence Force personnel that will be involved in the German Battlegroup will be about 175. The other members of the Battlegroup are Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

In July 2015, the Government approved Ireland’s participation in the UK Battlegroup, which will also be on stand-by for the second six months of 2016. The total number of Irish Defence Force personnel involved in the UK Battlegroup will be 5. Apart from Ireland, the other members of the Battlegroup are UK, Cyprus, Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Ireland’s participation in an actual Battlegroup operation would, as always, be subject to the usual “Triple Lock” requirements of a UN Mandate and Government and Dáil approval, as appropriate, in accordance with the Defence Acts.