Ireland's participation in United Nations led and United Nations mandated peacekeeping missions is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to the pursuit of international peace and security. At present there are some 670 members of the Defence Forces serving in overseas missions worldwide.
Ireland receives requests, from time to time, in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis. When considering any particular request, the following factors are taken into account:
- An assessment of whether a peacekeeping operation is the most appropriate response.
- Consideration of how the mission relates to the priorities of Irish foreign policy.
- The degree of risk involved.
- The extent to which the required skills or characteristics relate to Irish capabilities.
- The existence of realistic objectives and a clear mandate, which has the potential to contribute to a political solution.
- Whether the operation is adequately resourced.
- The level of existing commitments to peacekeeping operations and security requirements at home.
The decision by Government to send troops overseas is not taken lightly. The safety of all Irish Defence Forces personnel serving on all overseas missions is always a concern to me, my Government colleagues and to the military authorities. Our ability to protect the health and safety of our personnel is of paramount concern when considering any mission.
While no absolute guarantees can be given with regard to the safety of troops serving in missions, it is the policy and practice to ensure that Defence Forces personnel serving overseas are appropriately trained and equipped with the most modern and effective equipment to carry out their mission, as well as providing the required protection specific to the mission.
Ongoing threat assessments are carried out in the mission area and personal equipment and force assets are continually reviewed, to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are appropriately equipped to fulfil their role. Unfortunately, no mission is without danger, but I am satisfied that all appropriate security measures are in place to ensure that safety of all Defence Forces personnel serving overseas.