Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 7 Apr 1964

Vol. 208 No. 7

Despatch of Army Contingent to Cyprus: Motion of Approval.

I move:

That, pursuant to section 2 of the Defence (Amendment) (No 2) Act 1960 (No. 44 of 1960), Dáil Éireann approves of the despatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service outside the State as part of the international force which pursuant to a Resolution on Cyprus adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations on the 4th day of March, 1964, has been established by that Council for the performance of duties of a police character.

As Deputies are aware, the purpose of this resolution is to enable the Government to comply with the request of U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for the provision of an Irish contingent to participate in the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus. The Government have decided to comply with the request, subject to the approval of the Dáil.

While I do not propose to enter into a detailed account as to how the situation of grave difficulty which currently exists in Cyprus has come about, it may perhaps be helpful to the House if I recall briefly the main events from which the present crisis has developed.

The Republic of Cyprus, as Deputies are aware, was established after the acceptance and signing of four agreements, known as the London and Zurich agreements, arrived at between Britain, Greece, Turkey and representatives of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities after years of armed hostilities.

First, there is the Agreement on Independence for Cyprus—then a British colony—which was signed in London on 19th February, 1959, by Britain, Greece and Turkey with the accord of Archbishop Makarios representing the Greek Cypriot community and Dr. Kutchuk representing the Turkish Cypriot community. This provided the basic articles of the Constitution of Cyprus with elaborate provisions for the benefit and protection of the Turkish minority.

Secondly, there is the Treaty concerning the Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus signed on 16th August, 1960, by which Britain transferred full sovereignty over the island to the Republic of Cyprus but reserved for herself two sovereign base areas at Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Britain also reserved certain training areas, communication stations and other installations throughout the island.

Thirdly, there is the Treaty of Guarantee signed on 16th August, 1960, by which the Republic of Cyprus undertook to ensure, and the British, Greek and Turkish Governments undertook to guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of Cyprus, as well as respect for its Constitution. Article 4 of this Treaty provided that in the event of a breach of its provisions, Britain, Greece and Turkey would consult together with respect to measures necessary to ensure their observance. In so far as concerted action might not prove possible, each of the three powers reserved the right to take individual action.

Lastly, a Treaty of Alliance between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey signed on 16th August, 1960, provided for measures of joint defence, for the presence of Greek and Turkish military units in Cyprus and for the training of a national defence force in Cyprus.

All four Agreements were implemented on 16th August, 1960, when Cyprus became an independent Republic. Hopes were expressed at the time by all concerned that the solution provided by these agreements for the problems of Cyprus would prove efficacious, and would result in the promotion of harmonious relations between the Greek and Turkish communities, and the development of the economic and social well-being of the island as a whole.

The intervening few years have shown that far from these hopes being realised, a situation akin to civil war has come into existence. The situation has not only jeopardised the future of all Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish, but by reason of the importance of the eastern Mediterranean area, is also a potential danger to international peace and order.

I do not propose to deal with the possible causes of the deterioration of relations between the Cypriot communities or with the consequences of some of the constitutional and other stipulations embodied in the agreements under which the new state of Cyprus was set up. There does, however, appear to be rather wide acceptance of the fact that certain provisions of the Constitution such as those relating to powers to veto legislation, the existence of separate municipal administrations and the representation of the communities in the Parliament, the army, police and public services, which were designed to benefit and protect the Turkish minority, have led to the present state of crisis and have contributed to the armed hostilities which have so regrettably occurred between the two communities.

The fighting which broke out shortly before last Christmas brought to a head the troubles which had been smouldering for some time previously. The immediate cause of the trouble was the rejection of 13 proposals to amend the Constitution which the President, Archbishop Makarios, had presented to the Vice-President, Dr. Kutchuk. With the approval of the Government of Cyprus, British, Greek and Turkish troops on the island grouped together to assist in the preservation of a cease fire and the restoration of peace. A conference attended by representatives of Cyprus and the three other powers began in London on 15th January of this year in an endeavour to find a solution to end the conflict. However, while the conference was proceeding, renewed acts of violence occurred and agreement upon the need for the presence of a more broadly based international force on the island was quickly reached by the parties at the conference. Equally quickly, however, it became clear that the composition and organisation of such a force and its terms of reference were matters on which there was the sharpest clash of opinion. For some weeks there was complete lack of agreement amongst the parties as to what countries were to contribute troops, under whose auspices they should be despatched, and, if under the auspices of the United Nations, whether under the control of the Security Council or otherwise.

Substantive discussion of the problem began in the Security Council on the 19th February but it was not until 4th March that a resolution, sponsored by five of the non-permanent members of the Council, proved to be in a form acceptable to all.

This resolution recommended the creation with the consent of the Government of Cyprus, of a United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus, and specified that:

... The composition and size of the force shall be established by the Secretary-General in consultation with the Governments of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey and the United Kingdom. The commander of the force shall be appointed by the Secretary-General and report to him. The Secretary-General, who shall keep the Governments providing the force fully informed, shall report periodically to the Security Council on its operation; ... the function of the force should be, in the interest of preserving international peace and security, to use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions; ... the stationing of the force shall be for a period of three months, all costs pertaining to it being met, in a manner to be agreed upon by them, by the Governments providing the contingents and by the Government of Cyprus. The Secretary-General may also accept voluntary contributions for that purpose.

The resolution further empowered the Secretary-General to designate, in agreement with the Government of Cyprus and the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey, a mediator, who shall use his best endeavours with the representatives of the communities, and also with the aforesaid four Governments, for the purpose of promoting a peaceful solution and an agreed settlement of the problem confronting Cyprus, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, having in mind the well-being of the people of Cyprus as a whole and the preservation of international peace and security. The mediator shall report periodically to the Secretary-General on his efforts.

Deputies are aware that as well as the request made to us, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland and Sweden were also requested to contribute troops to the United Nations force in Cyprus. In common with some of these other countries the Government considered that it was necessary to obtain clarifications of the terms of reference of the force and of the conditions under which it would operate before arriving at a decision upon the request. The clarifications which were given in reply by the Secretary-General sought to define the character and function of the force in accordance with the guiding lines laid down in the Security Council resolution of the 4th March, 1964.

The Secretary-General views the United Nations effort in Cyprus as having two stages: the first is to bring to an end the current sporadic fighting between the communities by the deployment of the United Nations force, cease fire and other arrangements; the second is the task of the mediator in seeking long-range solutions of basic problems.

The Secretary-General has the responsibility for the establishment of the force and for its direction. He has appointed Lieutenant-General P.S. Gyani of India to command the force and has issued detailed instructions to him for the implementation of its functions as set out in the Security Council resolution of the 4th March, 1964. Having in mind the purely international character and responsibilities of the force, such instructions were not a matter for negotiation with any Government either directly concerned in the situation or contributing contingents to the force. The Secretary-General will, however, fully inform the representatives of the Governments providing troops of the substance of the instructions and directives given to the Commander.

In implementation of the Security Council resolution, it is the intention of the Secretary-General that initially the force should comprise about 7,000 men and that its adequacy should be reviewed later in the light of experience.

Of the countries that have been approached for contingents to date it now seems most unlikely that a contingent can be obtained from Brazil and the Austrian contribution is to consist of a medical unit. The composition of the force initially will, therefore, be comprised of contingents provided by Canada, Great Britain, Finland, Ireland and Sweden. Should it become necessary later on to increase the size of the force beyond 7,000, other countries might be approached for troops following consultations prescribed by the Security Council resolution.

It is not the intention of the Secretary-General to deal directly with the two communities of Cyprus on matters affecting the establishment, organisation and directives of the force. As regards matters concerning the establishment and stationing of the force, the Secretary-General's relations will be with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus whose representatives were accepted as spokesmen for the Government in the recent meetings of the Security Council.

In the conduct of specific operations the force will, of course, seek the full co-operation of the Government and of the two communities in Cyprus.

The disarming of forces which are not part of the regular military or police establishments of the island is not considered to be a function of the United Nations force. A basic principle of the force is that its troops will carry arms which, however, are to be employed only for self-defence, should this become necessary in the discharge of its functions under the Security Council resolution of 4th March, 1964.

It is recognised, however, that the United Nations might usefully take some non-forcible measures towards securing that all non-regular forces should surrender their arms. There might be in the first instance a strong appeal to the community leaders by the Secretary-General or the mediator. Indeed, it might become necessary for the mediator to deal with such matters as an unavoidable prelude to his discussion of long-term solutions. The mediator, therefore, early in his work, might have to seek out the community leaders and try to work out some arrangements with them for controlling the weapons carried by non-regulars, if not for actually disarming them.

It will be seen therefore that it is contemplated that the disarming of non-regular forces should be undertaken at the community level and the United Nations force would not assume such responsibility. Should a request be made to the commander of the force to undertake this responsibility, he would refer it to the Secretary-General for a decision and the Secretary-General would consult with representatives of the countries having contingents in the force before taking final action.

While the disarming of non-regular forces is a problem to be dealt with initially by negotiations at the community level, it is not believed that this can be achieved by the mediator or anyone else before the United Nations force is deploved in Cyprus. On the contrary, it is believed that the arrival of the force in Cyprus is a necessary condition for progress on such preliminary problems and for the mediator to begin his work in an atmosphere affording him some chance to obtain fruitful results.

I understand that the Secretary-General, in the light of the Security Council resolution of 4th March and of considerations of a general nature, regards the operations of the United Nations force and the activities of the United Nations mediator as separate and distinct undertakings and intends that they will be kept so. The United Nations force, being an impartial, objective body, has no responsibility for political solutions and indeed will not try to influence them one way or the other. The force commander and members of it authorised by him will, however, be free to have such contacts with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities as they consider desirable to fulfil their mandate. In the nature of the case, the activities of the force and of the mediator will be complementary in the sense that the extent to which the force will be able to ensure quiet on the island will make it possible for the work of the mediator to have a better chance for success, while, on the other hand, if the mediator is able to make some progress in any direction, the functioning of the force will become easier.

Under the terms of reference of the Security Council resolution the mediator should use his best endeavours with the representatives of the communities and also with the Governments of Great Britain, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, for the purpose of promoting a peaceful solution and an agreed settlement of the problem confronting Cyprus, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, having in mind the well-being of the people of Cyprus as a whole and the preservation of international peace and security. It is the intention of the Secretary-General to keep the members of the Security Council and the Governments contributing contingents to the force well informed on developments in the work of the mediator. On 28th March, with the agreement of the Governments of Cyprus, Great Britain, Greece and Turkey, the Secretary-General designated Mr. Sakari S. Tuomioja of Finland, with the consent of his Government, as the United Nations mediator for Cyprus. Mr. Tuomioja has had talks with the Secretary-General in New York and is now in Cyprus.

The Secretary-General intends to keep in close touch with the representatives of all Governments providing contingents to the force. It is considered desirable that consultations with contributing Governments should be conducted by the Secretary-General. No arrangements are, therefore, envisaged for any special consultative machinery in Cyprus between the force commander and representatives of contributing Governments which might lead to duplication and possible confusion. The commander will, of course, as appropriate, seek the advice of officers from the services of the contributing states serving on his headquarters staff and of the commanders of the contingents.

A Status of Force Agreement modelled largely along the lines of the similar agreement between United Nations and the Government of the Congo has been concluded between the United Nations and the Government of Cyprus. This agreement defines certain of the conditions necessary for the effective discharge of the functions of the United Nations force while it remains in Cyprus.

I may recall that the Secretary-General's formal request for an Irish contingent for the United Nations force in Cyprus reached us on 5th March. In the complex situation obtaining in Cyprus and in view of the terms of the Security Council resolution of 4th March, the Government had certain hesitations and required clarifications on a number of points before they could come to a decision on the request. In one regard they felt that an assurance was called for. Deputies will remember that at the time we were approached by the Secretary-General there was much comment in the foreign press about Cyprus and many suggestions about shifting sections of the population from one part of the island to another, and for the enforcement of a solution by outside powers. The Government felt strongly that during the presence of the United Nations force on the island there should be no attempt by outsiders to intervene, or to impose by force or by threat of force, a solution of the problem—and particularly one by partition.

After careful consideration of the many issues involved and in the light of the preliminary clarifications received from the Secretary-General, the Government agreed in principle, subject to the approval of Dáil Éireann, to comply with the Secretary-General's request to contribute a battalion of approximately 500 men to the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus on the understanding:—

(1) that the function of the force would be to maintain peace while the process of mediation to achieve an agreed solution of the problem confronting Cyprus was in progress and that the force would have no function in influencing the character of the settlement to be made or its subsequent enforcement;

(2) that an assurance would be forthcoming from the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey that during the presence of the force in Cyprus, they would not intervene, or attempt to impose by force, or by threat of force, a solution of the problem—and, particularly, a solution by partition;

(3) that every effort would be made by the Secretary-General to ensure that the Greek and Turkish Governments would place under the command of the United Nations their troops now stationed in Cyprus; and

(4) that, if it should be agreed to be necessary to keep a United Nations force in Cyprus after the expiration of three months,

(a) other member-countries of the United Nations would be asked to provide contingents, and

(b) the Government would be free to withdraw the Irish contingent, irrespective of the progress of the mediation and the state of affairs in Cyprus at that time.

This decision was conveyed to the Secretary-General on 13th March.

The Secretary-General in his reply of 19th March confirmed the correctness of the Government's understandings. In regard to the assurance sought that the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey would refrain from intervening or attempting to impose a solution by force or threat of force during the presence of the United Nations force in Cyprus, the Secretary-General stated that he could with confidence assure the Government that their conditions in this regard had been adequately met by the acceptance and support given by the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey to the Security Council resolution of 4th March and to a confirming Security Council resolution of 13th March, 1964.

In the light of this, the Government decided to seek the approval of the Dáil for sending a battalion to join the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus for a period of three months and the Secretary-General was so informed on 24th March. It was made clear when informing the Secretary-General of this decision that if during the presence of the United Nations force in Cyprus the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey, or any one of them, should intervene, or attempt to impose by force or by threat of force a solution of the problem, and particularly a solution by partition, the Government expected that immediate steps would be taken to withdraw the Irish contingent. At the same time it was decided to increase the strength of the battalion from 500 to 600 all ranks.

I come now to the question of financing of the force and of our contingent. The Security Council resolution of 4th March recommended that "all costs pertaining to the force be met, in a manner to be agreed upon by them by the Governments providing the contingents and by the Government of Cyprus". In addition, however, the resolution empowered the Secretary-General to accept voluntary contributions for this purpose.

The view of the Government in regard to the financing of the peace- keeping operations of the United Nations has been stated so often both in this House and in the United Nations so as to render any detailed explanation unnecessary. All such expenses we believe should be the collective responsibility of all members and the non-observance of this principle can only result in a reduction of the effectiveness of the organisation. Accordingly, in my reply of 13th March to which I have already referred, I informed the Secretary-General that the Irish Government viewed with regret the decision to raise funds on a voluntary basis for the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus. They regarded it as a grave and unwise departure from the principle of collective responsibility. Subject to Dáil approval, the Government will pay the usual United Nations overseas allowances to our troops and will accept no reimbursement from the United Nations unless it is levied on all members of the United Nations in the normal way.

I have endeavoured to inform the Dáil of the considerations which moved the Government to decide in favour of sending a contingent to Cyprus. The decision was not one easily taken. It was arrived at only after the most careful weighing of the many and complex issues involved in a most intricate situation. Every effort has been made to secure in advance such assurances and definition of terms of reference as will reduce to the minimum the possibility of misunderstanding.

As Deputies are aware preparatory arrangements for the sending of an Irish contingent to Cyprus, should the Dáil so approve, have already been taken. The Chief-of-Staff and the Quartermaster-General had talks with the Secretary-General and United Nations officials in New York on the military aspects of the operation and a group of Irish officers went to Cyprus to look into arrangements and conditions on the spot. Recruitment of our contingent from existing members of the Defence Force is, of course, on a voluntary basis and I have been informed by the Minister for Defence that many more than the required 600 officers and men have volunteered to serve in the United Nations force in Cyprus. Practically all of these have served previously with the United Nations force in the Congo operation which is due to be wound up at the end of May. There is no doubt therefore that, on a volunteer basis, we are sure of providing a contingent which will, as in the past, do credit to the Army and to the nation.

As Deputies are aware, the United Nations force in Cyprus became operational on 27th March and, if the Dáil approves this resolution, the advance party of our contingent will be on its way to Cyprus within a few days and the main body in about two weeks' time or so. I am fully confident that the battalion which stands ready for Cyprus will maintain the high standards of efficiency and devotion to duty displayed by our troops both in the Middle East and in the Congo and that it will uphold Ireland's reputation as a loyal defender of the United Nations Charter. Ireland has a right to be proud of its Army.

The Minister's concluding remarks certainly command the emphatic assent of Parties on all sides of this House. It has been truly said we have every right to be proud of our Army and its performance in some extremely difficult assignments which the Government have given them. I think we should be fully aware, before taking a decision in the matter of this kind, of all the implications of the decisions we are about to take.

I remember it being said in this House, after we had sent troops to the Congo to help in maintaining peace there, that had we foreseen the loss of life that would be involved we might have taken a very different decision. I remember commenting at once on that to say that, so far as we on this side of the House were concerned, we had very fully envisaged that possibility before making any commitment in regard to the sending of troops to the Congo. It was only bearing that heavy responsibility in mind that we expressed our assent to the decision to send Irish troops to the Congo. Several young Irish soldiers lost their lives in the course of the operations there, but it was in a great cause and a cause which we deliberately subscribed to, knowing its possible cost.

I think the House should face with perfect clarity of mind that in undertaking to participate in the Cyprus situation, we are not sending Irish troops on a holiday to the Mediterranean. We are sending Irish troops to participate in what may be an extremely difficult and dangerous operation. It is perfectly true, as the Minister has said, that the role we have undertaken to discharge is that of a peace-keeping force, to maintain peace while negotiations seeking a political solution are taking place, and that the United Nations has accepted the principle that the peace-keeping force will be charged with no political assignment. One of the most thankless tasks in the world, and very often one of the most dangerous, is the attempt to intervene between two heavily-armed groups, for the purpose of keeping the peace.

Now, bearing in mind that that heavy burden of responsibility is on us here in Dáil Éireann, when we make the determination as to whether the Irish Army is to participate in this United Nations operation, our view is that since we accepted the responsibility of membership of the United Nations, when Deputy Cosgrave first appeared there on behalf of Ireland, to take our place, we have an obligation to sustain the United Nations, particularly in a peace-keeping mission of this character, and to do so with our eyes open. It is for that reason that I have mentioned all the implications and that I propose to mention certain others that should be borne in mind by Dáil Éireann in determining this matter finally.

The first thing is this: it is not the function of Dáil Éireann in this context to determine the policy that must be pursued by the United Nations. That is the function of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Our Minister's duty is to take his full part in the determination of that policy and make our views and influence felt there. In the resolution we are asked to pass today, we are supporting the United Nations effort to maintain peace while solutions to the political problems are found. I feel bound to say this to the House: we should not underestimate the difficulty that confronts would-be political arbitrators in Cyprus. I do not profess to be an authority on Cypriot politics but I visited the country and I have met quite a number of people there, both in and out of public life in that community, and one of the most daunting problems for anyone interested in the welfare of the Republic of Cyprus is the virtually universal declaration by the Cypriot people. If you ask them what their concern for the nation of Cyprus is, the assertion by Cypriots of Greek extraction is that they are not Cypriots, that they are Greeks, and the assertion by Cypriots of Turkish extraction is that they are not Cypriots, that they are Turks; and there is an absolute reluctance on the part of either community to recognise any common interest in the ultimate welfare of a Cypriot nation.

How far it is possible to resolve the political problems that circumstances present in Cyprus, where you have a population of approximately something less than 20 per cent Turks and 80 per cent Greeks, is hard to estimate correctly, but it certainly is a problem which one is tempted to describe as almost insoluble and one can only hope that some satisfactory solution may yet be found. We agree that a solution founded on the partition of Cyprus is a solution in which we wish to have no part and which would not, in my opinion, provide any solution for the existing problems that afflict that island. But while I understand from the correspondence which the Taoiseach has forwarded to me, and which, in substance, in all the relevant substance, is reproduced in the Minister's statement today, we made it clear to the United Nations that we will have no part in any attempt to impose a settlement from outside and most especially any settlement which involves any question of partition of the island, I notice in the Minister's statement on page 7 he has emphasised that:

As regards matters concerning the establishment and stationing of the force, the Secretary-General's relations will be with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus whose representatives were accepted as spokesmen for the Government in the recent meetings of the Security Council.

I think the Minister has perhaps been a little disingenuous in not mentioning the difficulty which obtains under the existing Constitution. The Government is a body consisting of a number of representatives of the Greek community and a number of representatives of the Turkish community in an agreed percentage relationship. As far as I am aware, the present situation is that the Government have virtually ceased to function and we are now dealing with a remnant of that Government which is virtually exclusively representative of the Greek community, and the Turkish community and their representatives in the Government, elected under the Constitution, have virtually withdrawn. Now, that gives rise to this danger. Further down on page seven the Minister says that:

It is recognised, however, that the United Nations might usefully take some non-forcible measures towards securing that all non-regular forces should surrender their arms.

The question unhappily arises today in Cyprus as to what are regular forces and what are irregular forces. You have today in Cyprus what few people fully realise, a Turkish army commanded from Ankara; you have a Greek army commanded from Athens and you have the Cypriot army which up to recently contained elements of both communities. I suspect that the situation obtaining in Cyprus now is that there are no Turkish elements in the Cypriot army and that the Cypriot Government armed forces have been substantially augmented by the enrolment in them of considerable numbers of individuals who might have been regarded as non-regular forces up to their recent incorporation in the Cypriot army. Therefore, this is a matter which we should not ignore or pretend to overlook in estimating the problem that confronts not only the mediator in Cyprus but the commander of the forces of which our troops will form a part.

The Minister in the course of his statement says:

It will be seen, therefore, that it is contemplated that the disarming of non-regular forces should be undertaken at the community level and the United Nations force would not assume such responsibility. Should a request be made to the commander of the force to undertake this responsibility, he would refer it to the Secretary-General for a decision and the Secretary-General would consult with representatives of the countries having contingents in the force before taking final action.

While the disarming of non-regular forces is a problem to be dealt with initially by negotiations at the community level, it is not believed that this can be achieved by the mediator or anyone else before the United Nations force is deployed in Cyprus. On the contrary, it is believed that the arrival of the force in Cyprus is a necessary condition for progress on such preliminary problems and for the mediator to begin his work in an atmosphere affording him some chance to obtain fruitful results.

That concludes the quotation from the Minister's statement.

I think that when we speak of the disarming of non-regular forces as being a problem which must initially be dealt with by stages at community level, we ought to bear in mind the special circumstances that may arise if one party to this quarrel have it in their power to make all the irregular forces sympathetic to their point of view ineligible for this disarming proposal by simply incorporating them in the forces of the State, while the other party are likely to find that all those whom they regard as their shelter and protection will have to lay down their arms and leave themselves defenceless. That situation is made more invidious when one realises that it is the majority who are in a position to regularise their irregulars and the minority who find themselves in the position that those whom they regard as their protectors have no recognisable means of securing recognition as regular forces as against non-regular forces.

There is no use, in the initial stages of an operation of this kind, in unduly magnifying the difficulties that exist but when we are taking a decision to participate in these activities, it would be wrong to do so without a full understanding, not of all the problems, because it might take years to reach such an understanding, but of the complexity of the problem that confronts the United Nations in Cyprus and the not inconsiderable danger that may arise for this peace-keeping force when, with no aggressive intention of its own, it may find itself in the most dangerous of all situations, that of trying to separate two heavily-armed contestants.

We ought to be quite clear on the fact that this operation has little relation to any other operation in which we have been asked to participate on behalf of the United Nations. In the Congo and elsewhere, we have been dealing with a situation where the resources at the disposal of the United Nations were ultimately out of all proportion to the resources of those who might try to oppose them. We ought to be very clear that in Cyprus we are dealing with two very heavily-armed forces. While we hope that the operation of this peace-keeping force will be able to be conducted peacefully and while we hope that there is no possibility of an armed clash, we must realise that that possibility exists and we are entitled to obtain from the Minister, before a decision is taken on this matter, abundant reassurance that our troops participating in this work will be provided with adequate and appropriate armament to defend themselves in the event of attack from either side.

There is no use in sending troops into imminent danger, no matter how excellent our purpose or how excellent the intention is, unless you are satisfied that if somebody thrusts upon them the obligation to defend themselves, they are fully and appropriately equipped to do so. I am afraid it is true that in certain stages of the Congo operation our troops were not properly equipped.

I should be appalled to think that our Government would think of sending Irish troops to participate in this peace-keeping operation without equipment of a wholly different kind from that with which they were furnished in the opening stages of the Congo operation. I should like to have an assurance not only that the appropriate equipment is made available but that troops under the Irish commander will have an adequate opportunity of familiarising themselves with that equipment and its effective use.

I think this is a proper occasion on which to raise the more general question. When the United Nations found themselves confronted with these problems, the Secretary-General adopted the procedure of raising an ad hoc force for such operations. I want to suggest to the Government that that procedure has now ceased to be a satisfactory arrangement. If it is the policy of United Nations to offer itself as a peace maintenance fire brigade for the whole world surely the time is overdue for the United Nations to set up some satisfactory permanent machinery to equip itself for that task rather than the procedure of requisitioning a limited number of nations to provide at short notice scratch forces for difficult and dangerous assignments bearing in mind the added difficulties created for a peace force of this kind who are required to co-operate for the first time in the face of the danger with which they are called upon to deal.

I would suggest that the time is fast approaching when the small nations who are habitually called upon to bear this burden should make it clear to the United Nations that the burden is intolerable. If there should be a prospect of a recurrent need for such intervention the United Nations must properly equip itself to deal with such a need because they cannot expect the smaller nations habitually to meet this kind of problem and bear the burden of doing so.

I would suggest to the Government that in the light of this development and in the light of the possibility of similar requisitions by the United Nations, they should press on the United Nations that if a peace force is required, machinery should be set up on a permanent basis to deal with problems of this kind, with a fair apportionment of liability which would enable everyone to bear their part but would require no one to bear an undue share of the burden.

The Minister has said that on account of the intention of the Secretary-General to finance this operation by voluntary contribution, our Government notified the United Nations that we intend to pay the overseas allowance of our troops and will accept no reimbursement from the United Nations unless it is levied on all the members of the United Nations in the normal way. That seems to mean that we are not going to accept any reimbursement because the members will not agree, apparently, to have the cost of this operation levied on them all in the usual way. I understand — perhaps the Minister would correct me if I am wrong—that Russia and France are the principal powers who refuse to meet these charges in the ordinary way. Is that not correct?

Yes, but they also did in the Congo.

They refused to meet the Congo expenses, too?

It was levied on them but they will not pay it?

That is right.

I take it the Minister suggests that we should go through the pious procedure of levying this on them again and let them say again that they will not pay it. I do not know whether that is what the Minister has in mind. If it is, I cannot imagine why the Secretary-General does not do it because the end result is precisely the same. I think there is a good deal to be said for the Minister's point of view that the principle ought to be maintained that this is an ordinary charge on the resources of the United Nations and should be met pari passu by the various members in accordance with their agreed contribution.

I should like the Minister to tell us is it intended that no part of the cost of this operation is to be borne by the United Nations as a result of the stand we have taken in this regard.

They will pay the overseas allowance; is that not so?

That statement is confined to the overseas allowance.

I see. What, in fact, we are doing is making a gesture in order to indicate our dissent from the failure of the United Nations to levy the universal charge.

And put ourselves in a position to pursue the matter.

To pursue the matter, yes. Then the financial implications of the gesture are not very burdensome, I take it?

About £100,000 for three months—not so small.

It is fairly substantial but at least we know what it is to be.

Now, Sir, the Minister refers to the three months. I think that gives rise to a very important question. In the correspondence that took place, Point 4 of our Government's reservations in respect of which we asked for clarification was that if it should be agreed to be necessary to keep the United Nations force in Cyprus after the expiration of three months other member Governments of the United Nations should be asked to provide contingents and (2) the Government of Ireland should be free to withdraw the Irish contingent irrespective of the progress of mediation and the state of affairs in Cyprus at that time.

I think that creates an undesirable ambiguity which could be a cause of great embarrassment to us after three months. If we have decided that the extent of our commitment is to be three months and no more, why do not we tell the Secretary-General that we are prepared to lend a hand for three months, at the end of which time our troops come home? If we leave this hanging in the air and at the end of three months, the Secretary-General of the United Nations says to us: "It is most awkward if you go; we have no troops to replace you", is the entire responsibility for the breakdown of the whole business to be put on our shoulders because we say we propose to exercise the option that we left open to ourselves at the beginning of the operation? I think we should make up our minds that we are going to bring the troops home at the end of three months and tell the Secretary-General of the United Nations of that decision now.

Over and above the undesirability of having any ambiguity, has the Minister considered—and, if so, what position have he and the Minister for Defence reached—suppose we did decide on 1st June to bring the troops home, how would we get them home? I assume that it is proposed to move the troops out by the customary United Nations procedure of Globemasters proceeding from our airports here. Have we arranged, if we decide to bring the troops home, either at the end of a three-months term or because it is proposed that they should be used for the purpose of enforcing political decisions, particularly that of partition, how we get them home? Have any logistic arrangements been envisaged which would make that possible? If so, what are they and can the Minister say at this stage whether the Government intend to inform the Secretary-General categorically of what our commitment in respect of the period for which Irish troops are expected to serve actually is or does he agree with me that leaving this element of ambiguity in regard to that matter is an undesirable element in the present arrangements?

Subject to the observations I have now made, we are prepared to support the despatch of this force of Irish soldiers to participate in the work of the United Nations in Cyprus. I should be much happier if the Government were in a position to say that we had undertaken this responsibility for a limited time and that, having made our contribution, we expected other nations to bear their share of the burden, too.

I want to say categorically that we have reached our decision to support this response to the request from the Secretary General of the United Nations in no lighthearted spirit. We know the dangers involved and it is only having weighed them very carefully that we are satisfied that, having undertaken deliberately the responsibilities of membership of the United Nations, we are bound to meet the responsibilities of that membership when called upon to do so but we feel, not unreasonably, that we are entitled to make two other requests. One is that there should be some permanent machinery set up which would provide for contingencies of this character in future and the second is that in respect of this particular assignment, it is preferable that we should fix a term beyond which it will not be possible for us to contribute in men and resources rather than to leave outstanding this suggestion that at the end of three months, we might withdraw our force or, on the other hand, we might not.

We on this side of the House hope and pray that the differences which at present divide the communities of Cyprus may be overcome and that peace may be restored to that lovely country and its people enabled to live in peace and happiness together. If our troops can contribute to that happy end, then we shall have every reason to be grateful for the opportunity of participating in this enterprise.

I cannot bear to think of the alternative of sustained bloodshed and hatred developing among the people of this island and I suppose every Irish heart will be moved with solicitude lest the detestable solution of partition should be offered this island as an illusory hope of permanent settlement of a national problem which, in our bitter experience, it never can be. Those who are not intimately concerned with the domestic affairs of another nation can best serve the public interest by speaking as little as they can about them. Therefore, I shall confine myself to saying in regard to Cyprus that we wish it the best, we wish it happiness and we wish the people of Cyprus swift deliverance from the acute problems that afflict them now. In contributing to this force, we are doing our small part in bringing peace to the island, in the confident hope that it will long survive.

Since this country became a member of the United Nations Organisation, it must be recognised by all countries in the world, as it is recognised and appreciated by the people of this country, that we have always endeavoured, and indeed have succeeded, to live up not alone to the letter but to the spirit of that organisation. When we became members of UN, we subscribed to its Charter, having appreciated the responsibilities that might be placed upon us.

For that reason, the Labour Party believe that the Government were right, that the Dáil is right, in responding to the request of the United Nations Organisation, through its Secretary-General, by sending a contingent to participate in a peace force in Cyprus. We can be justly proud of our behaviour in the UN in regard to certain matters. We have fully met our financial obligations and, having listened to the long litany from the Minister for External Affairs on his Estimate of those who did not, we can indeed be proud that we, a small nation, have met our financial obligations fully.

More important, to my mind, is the practical manner in which this country has tried to ensure that the United Nations Organisation will be a success. We have contributed money and we have been prepared, and have shown practical evidence of it, to contribute, first of all, to a peace force in the Congo and now in Cyprus. None of us foresaw or anticipated when deciding to send a peace force to the Congo that there would be loss of life, but unfortunately that is one of the hazards which go with an expedition of that sort.

We could not say before the Congo operation that a situation involving loss of life would develop; neither can we anticipate what will happen in Cyprus. It is, to a large extent, speculation. One small thing that occurs to me in regard to the Congo—something which I trust will not happen in this Cyprus venture—is the unfair criticism to which Irish troops and the country in general were subjected by a small section of the British Press. While I have no real information about it, some other sections of the Press, in Belgium and in other countries in Europe, were responsible for the same type of criticism It involved the inference that the Irish troops were guilty of atrocities. This did not impress anybody in this country but it may have impressed a small number of people in Britain and in other countries.

I believe, therefore, that our Government, particularly the Minister for Defence, should try to ensure that as far as Cyprus is concerned, we will have a far better public relations system than we had in the Congo. I do not expect him to run after every story that appears in the lower-class newspapers throughout the world, but the good name of the Irish soldiers and of the Irish nation, which was enhanced in the Congo, should be preserved and for that reason our public relations should be much better, much stronger, than they appear to have been in regard to the Congo.

In any case, for a small nation, our contribution towards the work of the United Nations has been very considerable. Some people had misgivings about our decision to send troops to the Congo. As I have said we could not predict what would happen in the Congo. The situation there changed very quickly, indeed, to our confusion and to the confusion of people in many other countries. We were concerned about the hundreds of Irish troops out there.

Many will have misgivings about our intention to send troops to Cyprus, but I regard the request of the UN Secretary-General that Irish troops be sent as being something of a compliment because it recognises that the policy of Ireland within the UN has been one of non-alignment. While one has sympathy with Deputy Dillon's suggestion of the establishment of some force in the nature of an international fire brigade, I do not think that is possible because there are many countries, even some of those who participated in the Congo operation, who would not be acceptable in regard to Cyprus. To the credit of the Irish nation, they were acceptable in the Congo; they are acceptable in Cyprus; and they would be acceptable in many other parts of the globe if, unfortunately, there were further trouble.

Therefore, our special position within this family of nations is recognised. It is also recognised that Ireland has not the type of vested interest other countries might have; it is recognised particularly that we have a genuine desire for peace throughout the world. If Dáil Éireann approves of this resolution, this will be our second major venture, one which appears to be much more complicated than the first. Consequently, we shall have to be told more of the facts and be kept much better informed of events in Cyprus.

With Deputy Dillon, I, as leader of the Labour Party, wish to say that the Taoiseach kept us informed of events in the Congo and that again, during the past few weeks, he has kept us informed of the correspondence between the Government and the UN Secretary-General on the matter of Cyprus. I now make a plea that much more information should be made available to the public in general in regard to events in Cyprus. There was a confusion in the Congo, so much so that on the occasions when, unfortunately, some of our soldiers were killed, there was a muddled situation in places with unpronounceable names and the Government, apparently, found it necessary, in order to get first-hand information, to send the Minister for External Affairs a distance of 7,000 miles. I think that was wrong and therefore the Government should explore the possibility of having some representative in Cyprus, certainly not to have anything to do with mediation, or with military operations but at least to be able to transmit first-hand information to the Government. Even in these days of speedy travel, Cyprus is quite a distance away and within hours a military force could be compromised, not in a military but possibly in a political situation. If it is to take days and possibly a week or two to get real information, we might find our troops and the nation willy-nilly compromised to an extent they did not want. I ask, therefore, the Minister or the Government to explore the possibility of representatives in Cyprus of the Governments who are contributing troops to the Cyprus venture.

We have always agreed with the principle of making a practical contribution in providing a peace force in trouble spots but Cyprus, as the Government obviously regard it is not as simple a military operation as the Congo appears to have been. They were perfectly right in the inquiries they made from the Secretary-General of the United Nations as to the role of Irish troops as part of the peace force and in their insistence that a military force in Cyprus would not be in any way connected with the work of the mediator or with any political solutions that might be made in the future.

In the minds of the public generally in this country, there is a certain amount of confusion about the situation in Cyprus. I happened to read the debate of Dáil Éireann when the Government proposed to send troops to the Congo. I think it was the present Taoiseach who said that while we were somewhat concerned about the political situation in the Congo, we must appreciate that the role of the Irish soldier there was to keep law and order, not to be too concerned with things political but to do the job for which the United Nations sent them there, to try to ensure a situation in which a mediator could work.

In a confused and complicated situation such as exists in Cyprus, I certainly do not envy the mediator. The agreement that was signed by the various parties in 1960 provided for a solution which, events have shown, has broken down. It seems to have been a complicated mathematical solution that did not have a chance from the start but it is not for any Irish member of Parliament or an Irish Government to comment on that agreement or its terms. No one can provide a cut and dried solution for Cyprus and we cannot say exactly what will happen. This is not a confined, domestic quarrel. People who believe otherwise should have their minds disabused of thinking an Irish force is being sent there merely to ensure there will be peace in Cyprus. If that were the problem, I do not think our concern need be as great. But this Dáil, I trust, will approve of sending a peace force to Cyprus in order to ensure that there will be international peace.

It may appear to be a purely domestic quarrel but it is not, as is evidenced by the events of the past three or four weeks, as evidenced by the fact that the Turkish Government were prepared to land troops on the island which was followed by a statement from Mr. Khrushchev himself who said he would have to take notice if that happened. In saying that, he meant he would have to do something about it if the Turks landed on the island. I assume the Greeks would have to do something about it and one assumes also the Russians, the Americans and the British would have to concern themselves about it. The result of that sort of situation might be a major conflict, not confined to that part of the world.

That must be stressed because some sections of the Irish public want to know: Why are we sending troops to Cyprus? Why are we interfering; can we not let them settle their own differences? If it were merely that, we could look at it in a different light but because it is a threat to international peace, we think it desirable that Ireland should make a contribution.

It is also important that the Irish people with whom we are concerned should remember that it was the Government of the Republic of Cyprus that invited the peace force to the island, that the invitation was approved by the Turkish and Greek Governments and by the British Government. It is not just a matter of the United Nations with Ireland participating in interfering in the internal affairs of that unhappy island.

I do not think there is much point in questioning the Minister as to the detailed role of the Irish soldier in Cyprus. It is a bit naïve to say he is merely going to act as a policeman. He will begin by trying to act as such and I trust that within the next three or four months, or whatever the period may be, he will be able to act as a policeman. The resolution passed by the United Nations on 4th March referred to the role of the peace force in restoring law and order and not shooting unless in self-defence. These are nice words but in the Congo there were situations in which the Irish contingent found themselves involved in which they could not invoke words to decide what they should do. Therefore, we trust the intelligence of the commander and the officers and the soldiers themselves to be able to act in accordance, if not with the letter of the law, with the spirit of the resolution and in accordance with the general idea that they are there to try to do something towards restoring law and order.

I think the Secretary-General is somewhat optimistic in thinking in terms of three months as the duration of this operation. We trust the mediator will be able to complete his task within three months. I believe if Ireland makes a contribution of 600 troops for a period of three months, it will have done a little more than its share. If the Government decide an Irish contingent should be there for a further three months, I do not know if it will be necessary to come back to the Dáil in that situation, but in view of what has been done in the past three or four weeks, I firmly believe they will consider all these things and make a proper decision as to whether the operation, as far as Irish troops are concerned, should be extended.

I should like to ask the Minister if he was asked for a certain number of men, or was 600 the number the Government decided upon. For a country such as ours, 600 men, in an overall peace force of 7,000, appears to be a pretty good contribution. We have quite a number of men in the Congo at present. I cannot put a number on them, but a fair proportion of our Army is abroad—granted doing useful work. I should like the Minister to say what yardstick he used which induced him to say to U Thant: "We will give 600 men", or was there a stipulation or a request that we should send 500, 600 or 700 men? I think it important that the Minister should say how he arrived at that figure.

One of the peculiar things about these expeditionary forces—let us call them that—is that many more Irish soldiers than can be absorbed want to volunteer. That is an extremely good thing. The Minister for Defence ought to know that many Deputies have been plagued, unofficially, of course, by various members of the Army who want to be allowed to go to Cyprus. That is a very good spirit. It is indicative of the willingness of the Irish soldier to play his part in some field.

The Minister said the Secretary-General of the United Nations hoped to integrate Greek and Turkish troops in the peace force. He said that some months ago. I wonder has the Minister any up-to-date information, or is the position merely as he described it in his opening remarks? It has been made abundantly clear in the resolution, and in the request, and the subsequent letters from the Secretary-General, that the force is not to be used to influence the political situation. As I said before, I do not think we can get any ready-made solution for the Cyprus situation. The role of the peace force is merely to make conditions favourable for a solution by the mediator. I think all members of the House, and everyone in the country, will agree that if the solution is to be partition, and if Irish forces were to be used even to make the path clear for partition, we would have to look at the whole business in a very different light.

I am interested, too, in the Minister's reference to the disarming of irregular forces. He said it should not be necessary for this peace corps to engage in the work of disarming these irregular forces. I trust that is right. I know that in the type of guerilla warfare which is going on in Cyprus at present, those who have participated for years will be very reluctant indeed to give up their arms to anyone, to a United Nations force, or anyone else. The Secretary-General was somewhat vague when he referred to the problem of disarming these irregular forces. Therefore, I think our soldiers should be well briefed on the attitude of the Government and our military commanders in that respect.

The cost of the operation is, again, a matter of concern to many people. In his explanatory letter to the Minister for External Affairs, the Secretary-General said the cost of the operation would be in a manner agreed by the Governments making contributions and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. He said also, almost as an aside, that they might also accept voluntary contributions, as if going around with the hat. That is a scandalous state of affairs so far as the United Nations are concerned. The Minister interjected to say that the cost of providing overseas allowances to the troops was £100,000, for three months, I think he said. That is a fairly substantial sum.

Apart from the cost, I do not think we should be so big hearted as to say we will not accept any assistance from the fund that will be provided by Western Germany, the United States of America, Great Britain, and other countries. No matter what Russia or France have done—or not done, should I say—in failing to meet their financial obligations, Germany, the United States and Great Britain are concerned about the peace of the world. They are ignoring Russia and France—who in this case appear to be bad trade unionists who will not pay—and they are so concerned about world peace that they say: "We will provide the money." Is that sort of money being offered to us? If it is, I do not think it would be any loss of face if we were to accept it. We are making a contribution of 600 men who will be risking their lives.

The Government should reconsider this decision. I gather from an interjection made by the Minister that the door is still open, and that we could go back on that decision. I do not think we should be at all ashamed to do so. The United States of America are contributing billions of dollars to ensure peace in various parts of Southeast Asia. They are spending a tremendous amount of money. They poured a tremendous amount of money into Europe after the war, not for military operations but for industrial revival, and that type of thing. The people of Europe were not ashamed to take it—granted, they were on their knees after a world war. A small nation such as ours, with less than 3,000,000 people, is prepared not only to try to ensure peace in Central Africa but to make its contribution to the preservation of peace in one of the biggest trouble-spots of the world, the Middle East.

I do not think there is any compliment involved in our accepting a contribution from three or four of the greatest nations in the world in the effort we are making in sending 600 men to Cyprus. We fulfilled our obligations. We paid our annual subscription, so to speak, to the United Nations. Every single thing the United Nations asked this country to do, within reason, has been done. Perhaps I should not say this but surely the taxpayers of this country should not be expected to pay this £100,000. However, I do not want to flog that. I do not think the Taoiseach should waive this offer that has been made by the Secretary-General in inviting us to avail of the fund that will be contributed by Western Germany, Great Britain and the United States of America.

As a last remark, I want to ask some member of the Government to comment on the suggestion I made at the beginning of my speech that they should explore the possibility of having a representative of the Irish Government in Cyprus. The Taoiseach shakes his head. I am sure he will be able to give an adequate answer.

I should not like the job of picking the man to whom we would give that responsibility and whom we would put there with this power of decision.

The Taoiseach, I think, misunderstands me. I do not want anybody in Cyprus who will make any decision.

Then we do not need him there at all.

I want a man in Cyprus who will be able to assess the situations as they arise and who will be able to communicate news of them within minutes or hours to the Irish Government. I do not think that is unreasonable.

I want to join with the Minister for External Affairs and Deputy Dillon in wishing our troops well. We trust that this operation will soon be ended. We trust that there will indeed be peace and a solution acceptable to all the communities in Cyprus and we trust that, of the 600 men who go, 600 will return alive and well.

I just want to say a few words on certain aspects of this matter and to emphasise what has been stated already concerning the Irish attitude to our membership of the United Nations Organisation and our desire to fulfil our obligations as a member of that organisation. Since we became a member of the organisation, we have not merely accepted the spirit of the Charter but we have acted in accordance with the terms of the Charter in any situation in which we intervened or took whatever action was necessary on foot of decisions of the United Nations. These actions do not mean that we have been passive acceptors of United Nations decisions and policy.

When we joined the organisation, we made it clear that our aim would be to act in an objective and detached manner on each specific case as it arose. We made it clear that we would view each case on its merits and then act in accordance with whatever decision we came to. As was stated at the time, many of these questions involved difficult and serious policy decisions and few of them were easy to make in practice. It was made quite clear that even though we realised that would be the situation, as it subsequently followed in practice, we would view each case in an objective manner and decide in the existing circumstances what was the appropriate action.

It is important to emphasise that decisions taken on foot of our membership of the United Nations are not taken for prestige purposes. That should not be so and I hope it is not so. Like most countries, certainly all small countries, we have a vested interest in peace. For this reason, we are anxious to play an effective role in making the United Nations Organisation function as it was established to function and in making it effective as a world instrument for peace and goodwill among the nations. In pursuance of that policy, decisions such as we are taking at the moment and such as were taken in the case of the Congo were come to. It is no easy matter for any country, and least of all for a small country, to decide to take the action which this country has taken and will, I assume, take on foot of this motion. Because we regard the maintenance of world peace as an overriding responsibility and an overriding consideration the decisions taken previously and the one likely to be taken now were come to and agreed upon.

One of the problems which the United Nations have to face is the problem of keeping peace in any trouble-spot and either restoring peace where trouble has arisen or keeping trouble localised and, if possible, confined. The cases which have been the subject of our active participation—in the Congo or, in the present case, in Cyprus—are not easy cases to deal with. Unquestionably, the present case of Cyprus is much more complex, far more involved, and offers less prospect of a ready solution than existed in the case of the Congo. At the same time, it is important to emphasise from the point of view of informing public opinion in this country that the reason which motivates the Dáil and motivates the decision to participate in a United Nations force is that, like all countries and particularly like all small countries, we have a vested interest in world peace. We are anxious to see peace maintained in any case where peace is jeopardised. While initially it may appear a localised problem or a problem of particular interest to those directly concerned, ultimately world peace may depend on the control of developments or the failure to control developments in a situation such as that in Cyprus.

It is therefore obvious that we should make it clearly known to the people here as well as to those elsewhere that our interest in this is not any question of prestige or any desire to afford Irish troops experience of serving abroad but rather a desire to participate in an effective way in making a contribution towards the maintenance of world peace. Though it may appear to be a small contribution, on the basis of the size of this country, its population, and its resources, it is quite a sizeable contribution indeed. It is important to make it clear that we regard our membership of the United Nations Organisation as involving certain consequential responsibilities and duties which any loyal member of that body, or any similar body, must discharge if the organisation is to function effectively, not merely in the interests of those affected by any particular problem, such as Cyprus, but generally also in the wider context of maintaining world peace.

This particular matter, however, appears to be one which presents certain problems, and not merely for this country. It is obvious, of course, that in considering a matter of this character an outsider is neither sufficiently informed nor sufficiently conversant with the problems involved to offer opinions which may have any posible effect on policy or other decisions involved in dealing with the situation. It does seem, however, from the information contained in the letter of the Secretary-General to the Minister for External Affairs and from the remarks which the Minister made in his speech that there is some, if not confusion, at any rate lack of appreciation by the Secretary-General of the problem of disarming the irregular forces on the island. That seems to me one matter on which further clarification is required.

It has been the experience that if one has to deal with irregular forces, there is only one way of dealing with them, namely, disarm them. It might simplify the problems to be solved in Cyprus if that question were dealt with initially rather than allow a situation to develop, subsequently obliging, by force of circumstances, the United Nations Forces to take effective action. The present position seems to indicate some confusion as to the actual policy to be operated.

It is suggested that the problem of disarming the irregular forces will not be dealt with by the United Nations but, rather, by the forces under the control of the Cypriot army. According to the Minister:

It is recognised, however, that the United Nations might usefully take some non-forcible measures towards securing that all non-regular forces should surrender their arms.

It is difficult to see what effective action the United Nations Forces can take in a situation of that sort. It is doubtful if a strong appeal, however strongly worded or widely distributed, would act as an incentive to those involved. However, as I said, this is not a matter on which outside opinion may be very effective, but I think some clarification of the attitude to be adopted should be given either this evening, or at a later date, if the information is not now available.

The other matter on which we have, I think, to take a decision, if not now, then certainly later, is the financial commitment this country will accept. In reply to a query, I gathered from the Minister that the cost of the liabilities which we have accepted will amount to £100,000 for three months. It was made clear that the reason we decided to accept that commitment was to enable us to preserve our freedom of action. I believe the House and the country are entitled to hear from the Government what action we propose to take at the United Nations to try to get agreement on the financing of this operation. It would be hard to beat the rather vague manner in which this matter was dealt with by the Security Council resolution. It seems to me the resolution was phrased in a language that clearly indicates the Security Council wishes politely to pass the buck.

The Security Council resolution of 4th March recommends that all costs appertaining to the Force be met in a manner to be agreed by the Governments providing the contingent and the Government of Cyprus. The resolution empowers the Secretary-General to accept voluntary contributions. I should like to hear from the Minister what decisions the other participating Governments have reached, if that information is available, and the method by which they propose to finance their units. I should also like to know whether they have adopted the same attitude as we have or whether they have decided to accept a contribution from the United Nations Organisation towards the cost.

We should, I think, make it clear that we have assumed very considerable responsibilities and liabilities for a country of our size and resources. As I said earlier, while we have to discharge our duties and fulfil our obligations as a member of the United Nations, we ought not to assume too readily functions and responsibilities, financial or otherwise, which might be more appropriate for larger countries or countries with greater resources. While certain prominent members of the United Nations Organisation default in their responsibilities, and default by deliberate decision, not prepared, on the one hand, to wreck the organisation by decisive action, but, on the other hand, defaulting in respect of their responsibilities, a default which is tantamount to jeopardising, if not wrecking, the effectiveness of the Organisation as an effective world body, we should, I think, endeavour to get support from other countries for a general approach similar to that mentioned in the course of the telegram sent by the Government. We regard it as important that the acceptance of collective responsibility for the financing of an operation of this sort should not merely be agreed upon by the United Nations but be accepted in practice by the States or countries which are members of that Organisation.

Reference has been made to the equipment which our troops will have in Cyprus. I noted recently that certain additional equipment was purchased. I should like to know from the Minister if the Government are satisfied that our troops have adequate equipment of a suitable character for use in Cyprus and particularly for use in the event of up-to-date arms and equipment being used there by irregular or other forces operating in Cyprus, and also if additional supplies will be available, if necessary and when required.

There is general saisfaction with the manner in which our officers, NCOs and men have acquitted themselves in the various assignments abroad, either in the Lebanon or, particularly, the Congo, and that has reflected credit not only on themselves but on the country. I have no doubt that they will in this difficult situation merit the highest credit in the future. It should be made known to the troops as well as to the Army that the House and the country appreciate the manner in which they have discharged their functions in all cases in which they have been called upon to serve.

I noted from the remarks of the Minister that far more troops have volunteered for service abroad than are required. One of the matters which has been brought to the attention of Deputies is the fact that some Army personnel feel they have not been afforded an opportunity of serving abroad. I should like an assurance that, subject to suitability in training and from the point of view of health, an effort will be made to meet the desire of the Army personnel who wish to serve abroad, that the opportunity for service abroad will not be confined to those who have already had experience and that selection will be made on an entirely impartial basis. It is important, subject to available places and to suitability in regard to health, that those who wish to serve should be afforded an opportunity of doing so. Certainly the fact that so many have volunteered is indicative of the desire of our troops to render service not merely to this country but in a practical way to the cause of world peace.

Deputy Corish rightly stressed to the Dáil the international character of the dangers arising from the Cyprus situation. The Security Council of the United Nations became involved in Cyprus because of these international dangers. If it were merely a matter of internal disorder in the Republic of Cyprus or some breakdown of authority on the part of the Cyprus Government, it is unlikely that the Security Council would have become involved at all. It was clear that the situation in Cyprus was likely to involve powers outside Cyprus, and the view was held that they could possibly come into military conflict and that this conflict could produce a chain reaction that would ultimately endanger the peace of the whole world.

It was in that situation and in the face of these dangers that the Security Council decided to act. Indeed I may say that the decision of the Government on March 6th, in principle and subject to the concurrence of the Dáil, to provide a contingent to the proposed United Nations Force in Cyprus and the communication of that decision to the Secretary-General was in itself an important contribution to the easement of the tension prevailing at that time. On the previous day, the Government of Turkey, under very considerable pressure from its public opinion, as one can well understand in all the circumstances, had spoken of military intervention in Cyprus to protect its nationals there, and the crisis, as it could well be described, was becoming acute and remained acute until the Secretary-General was able to announce on March 6th that there would be a United Nations force. That announcement eased the tensions forthwith and it could not have been made, because of circumstances which were not of our making, and of conditions generally prevailing, unless that decision of the Irish Government had been made and had been communicated to the Secretary-General on that day.

Everybody will understand that we had certain doubts in this regard, not doubts as to our obligations to the United Nations or as to the desirability of the United Nations intervention in such a situation to keep the peace, but as to whether there would, in fact, be a force constituted that would be effective for the task it had to perform and whether the whole operation was conceived in a manner which gave a reasonable prospect of success. These doubts were held not only by us but by other Governments who were invited to provide contingents and they asked questions similar to those we asked before the situation became clarified, before the functions to be given to the force were more clearly known and before the nature of the whole operation could be envisaged.

Even still there is some vagueness. There are questions we should like to ask and perhaps would ask if we thought somebody could give us final answers to them. However we must recognise that the United Nations is moving into a situation in which it will have a very difficult task to perform and is necessarily keeping not merely a certain amount of freedom of action in respect of decisions it may have to make but also a certain amount of flexibility in the decisions it has made and announced to the world. This is understandable. This effort to build up a United Nations which will have effective power to stop small wars and keep the peace throughout the world is something which is only beginning and one mistake could perhaps destroy the whole prospect. That is why there is a desire on the part of those who have responsibility in New York in that connection to proceed carefully and plan for success and also why those of us who feel there is a special value in the development of this international influence and force should, even at some sacrifice to ourselves and even when we are not fully satisfied in our minds as to the wisdom of the decisions taken, be prepared to go along with them.

Deputies have queried the three months stipulated in the United Nations resolution and the three months referred to in our communication to the Secretary-General after which we have indicated we may want to look at this situation again. I do not know whether it is optimistic to hope this situation will be resolved in three months—most people think it is optimistic—but this is the Security Council's decision and if they decide that the circumstances require or justify the continuation of the operation beyond three months, then it is they who have to——

A new decision has to be made.

They have to take a new decision.

It is a new decision?

They will have to make a new decision to go on with the operation and to fix the extension of its duration. In these circumstances, we must be free also to have a look at the situation. We have reserved our right to withdraw without saying definitely that we would do so. We do not want to commit ourselves either way without knowledge of the circumstances, but we want to put to the Security Council and the Secretary-General the obligation which they will have at that stage if it arises to endeavour to secure that other countries will take over the obligation which we have been discharging by sending their contingents to Cyprus. Whether or not we would withdraw ourselves, the more nations that will participate, the clearer the international character of the force will be and the less difficulty there will be in securing not merely its acceptance in Cyprus but the successful fulfilment of its task there.

The problem of finance which was raised here is not unconnected with the limited character of the operation as it is now conceived by the Security Council and by our commitment to it. We are not a rich country. We are not very willing to undertake to finance a contingent of this kind towards international peace keeping forces at our own expense. On the contrary, we want to establish the principle that this is the collective responsibility of all the members of the United Nations and look ahead to other future situations in which such a force may be required and in which only countries like ourselves may be asked to provide its contingents.

We want to establish the principle that the reimbursement of the expenditure we undertake in this regard will not depend on the willingness of some countries to contribute voluntarily to the funds of the United Nations but to the acceptance by all the members of what we regard as their obligations in that connection. It may be, and we hope that there will be some regularisation of the United Nations position in this regard, and if that happens we will expect to be reimbursed for our expenditure. We did not think it was desirable to state that our acceptance of the request to send the force was conditional in any way on this or that country making a voluntary contribution to the funds.

This is important in our view if we are to raise this issue in the United Nations, as we will, and try to get it established that the obligations that arise, when a peace-keeping force of this kind is necessary—the obligation to send a contingent or to bear the cost —cannot be left solely on the shoulders of those who are willing voluntarily to undertake them and must be accepted as the obligations of all the members.

Does the Taoiseach know whether or not other countries who are participating in this force have adopted the same attitude?

Some of them have. Let me make this clear. What we have undertaken and what we have said is: "We will send a battalion of troops and we will not seek reimbursement from the United Nations for the payments we make to them, including the overseas allowances equivalent to those given to the troops in the Congo and elsewhere. But we expect that in Cyprus the troops will be supplied with rations, materials, petrol and other materials that they need at the United Nations expense".

The £100,000 referred to by the Minister for External Affairs is the estimated additional cost, during the three months, of the overseas payments to the troops and of such things as tropical uniforms, tents and other equipment of that kind which probably would not be required except for the circumstances of the situation in Cyprus. It is true also that we have purchased certain military equipment. Reference was made to a number of Panhard armoured cars, the purchase of which by the Army from the French manufacturers had been contemplated but the delivery of which was brought forward by reason of this development which will involve an earlier payment than was envisaged in the ordinary Army re-equipment programme.

There will be other items of purely military equipment which will be purchased and supplied to the force, but which, of course, we hope will be brought back with the force and will constitute permanent additions to the armaments of the Army. In addition, I want to explain that the size of the force was determined by two considerations—the maximum number that could be spared having regard to the size of our Army and the minimum number which represents a completely integrated force which could form an effective military unit.

Indeed, the decision to increase the size of the force from 500 to 600 men was made not because of the discovery that more men could be spared but rather because it was considered to be the minimum size to constitute a force that would make an effective integrated unit in the Cyprus situation. In regard to the selection of the force, this, of course, is entirely undertaken by the Army Command and there is no interference with them and there should not be. One can understand the disappointment that many members may have in not being selected, especially from the point of view of their professional efficiency and their desire to get experience in an operation of this kind. Only 25 per cent or 30 per cent of those who volunteered could be chosen on this occasion and clearly the choice must be left to the Army Command without anyone attempting to interfere with them in any way.

I do not agree at all with Deputy Corish's suggestion that we should have something like a political representative in Cyprus. Other Governments involved in this force may have different views. I think that any discussions of a political kind in relation to the situation in Cyprus should take place in New York. The chain of communication must be from the commander of our contingent through the commander of the United Nations force in Cyprus to New York, and in New York political discussions can take place. Let us not be misled by our experience in the Congo. In the Congo there was a vast area of land with minimum means of communication and it was often difficult to establish contact with the forces when that was desired. That is not the situation in Cyprus where there are means of instantaneous communication.

I am reluctant to interrupt the Taoiseach, but we will not have a Committee Stage on this. There is a resolution before the House. The Government have taken up this attitude in their communication with U Thant. They said, in effect, that they will reserve the right to assess the political situation as it may occur. Though it will be transmitted through U Thant, do you think the United Nations could make a proper assessment without getting first-hand information from the Army personnel? If they got it from the Army personnel, it might be a different matter.

After all, there is a big change in the modern world. After all, in fairness to everybody, the whole world is now governed by a Buddhist monk. Let us be honest about it.

The Taoiseach should not be interrupted.

We are sending a contingent to Cyprus which we are placing under the command of the United Nations authorities. The force will be an integrated one, commanded by experienced officers. There will be Irish officers occupying places on the headquarters staff of the United Nations in Cyprus. I do not think there will be any great difficulty in getting information, but clearly, the command of this whole operation must rest with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Any point of view which is to be expressed in regard to the deployment of forces or otherwise, is to be expressed to him. We could not conceive a situation in which we would give orders to our contingents, the Swedes would give orders to their contingents, or the Finns to their contingents.

The Taoiseach misunderstands me. I am not concerned so much with the military operation, I would leave that in the hands of the Lieutenant-General who has been appointed, but I am talking about the political situation that might arise. You must take it from U Thant.

This is the very point he has decided, that this force in Cyprus will not be concerned with political matters but will be keeping the peace and that any question that arises which could have political implications will be decided by him in New York and not by the military commander. This is the wisest decision he could have taken and one in which we concur. It will be in New York that political decisions, in so far as they may be required, will be made.

It is time we grew up.

I think anybody who has given any thought to this will agree with the view expressed by Deputy Dillon that if the United Nations is to develop these peace-keeping operations, if it requires to have a fire brigade that can be rushed without delay to any bush fires that may start bigger fires, it will have to be on a different basis, an international force, which is seen to be international in character, that can be moved on the decision of the Security Council, without any national Government having to concur in the decision.

It would be a bad thing for the world, when forces are urgently necessary to prevent small wars from developing, that it should depend on a few Governments being willing to act. There are Governments which cannot order their armies abroad without consultation and previous preparation, and ours is one. There are, of course, many powers in the world with international obligations that are in a position to send battalions or brigades of troops at very short notice but we are not in that situation. I am sure the Finns are in a similar position to ourselves and they may have had even more difficulty than we in the preparations they had to make. While the Scandinavian countries are thinking in terms of legislation which will give them power to keep a contingent available for United Nations operations, they have not yet passed it.

Setting up of a permanent international force would be a very costly operation and, while I do not know what the decision of the United Nations may be, it seems that a crisis can very well develop this year if there is a decision to apply the rules of the Charter and deprive those countries, which have not paid their contributions, of their votes in the United Nations until they have paid up. This could lead to a crisis in the United Nations itself. While it is something on which we might be prepared to take a simple rigid line, you can understand that others may have some hesitation in regard to it. In the long run however it is desirable that there should develop some system by which an international force can be maintained and sent to spots where it is required by the decision of the Security Council alone and without other Governments, reluctant or otherwise, being required to take supplementary decisions to the same effect.

There is always a reluctance, first of all, in the case of the country concerned, to take troops from neighbouring States. I gather that the Cyprus Government objected to any contingents from the African or Middle Eastern countries. There will always be a reluctance to take troops from countries where special interests may be suspected. There were other difficulties in Cyprus also because of the division of religious communities and there was a certain reluctance to take contingents from countries who might be feared to be influenced by these religious divisions so that there was only a limited number of countries on the short list that could be invited. This will nearly always be so. While we must regard it as a compliment to our position in the world, to our military forces, and to the expectation that we would approach this problem with no concern at all except to fulfil the wishes of the Security Council and keep the peace, with, as Deputy Corish said, no axe to grind, this could impose in time obligations on us which would represent an unfair share of the burden of peace-keeping.

As long as we keep out of NATO.

We are not concerned at all with the political solution that emerges, if it is an agreed solution between the two parties concerned and the three outside Governments. If it is agreed, that will settle the matter and we can all withdraw. If there is not an agreed solution, the situation could again develop crisis proportions or go on for quite a long time. Personally, I do not think it is desirable for us to emphasise that there is any similarity between our partition situation and the situation in Cyprus because clearly the problem arises there of two racial communities while in Ireland the injustice of Partition is that there is only one race. This country is occupied by one race, the Irish. Nevertheless, we did need to make it clear that our objection to Partition in Ireland was so strong that we would not like to be associated with any partition of Cyprus. If anybody wants to solve an international problem anywhere by means of partition, he must not come to us for a recommendation for it. We must make it clear, however, that our troops in Cyprus are concerned only with peace, and the efforts of mediation to find a solution or to secure arrangements that will be workable and which will keep the peace are completely separate and we are not involved in them, except in so far as we are members of the United Nations and must support arrangements wherever they are made under United Nations leadership.

I have no doubt that this situation will change many times before it comes to an end. When we committed ourselves to the Congo operation, when we saw a new Government there breaking down and appealing to the world to save it from chaos, as well as the international complications, we felt it our duty to respond but we did not visualise then many of the problems which ultimately emerged and some of which had to be settled by force. While one could draw false analogies between the Congo and Cyprus, the probability is that something we do not expect may arise in Cyprus also, but it will be different from what emerged in the Congo. The one situation in which we feel it would be impossible for the United Nations to succeed would lie in the possibility of intervention to enforce a solution by any of the three powers concerned.

We had to accept the assurance of the Secretary-General that the adherence of these three powers to the resolution of the Security Council gives us the safeguards which we sought in that regard. If a change should emerge in that situation, we would certainly expect that we could withdraw our contingent. One can visualise situations in which delays might occur, but in the case of the United Nations Forces in the Congo from time to time many countries who had contributed troops decided to withdraw them either because of the situation there or because their troops were required at home, but there was never any difficulty in so far as the United Nations was concerned in organising the transportation and other arrangements for the dispatch of these forces and their return to their own countries.

We do not expect that there need be any difficulties in Cyprus, either. If circumstances should arise in which it appears to us that the United Nations Force in Cyprus had no longer a useful purpose, or circumstances were developing in a way which did not in our minds justify their remaining there, we would ask for their withdrawal and expect that that would be done.

I would say that it would require the State Analyst to analyse anything that has been said about Cyprus up to now. Is it not time we all grew up and had a little commonsense? Who is responsible for our present image in the world except ourselves? Even in this House, we go out of our way to denigrate ourselves and to hold ourselves up as an irresponsible nation, while at the same time, if we want to tell the truth about it, we are the most responsible people in the world. The whole business is rather sad.

In Sweden, Canada and in the other countries where troops were sought for this Cyprus venture, if I may call it that, there was no serious discussion at all about the matter. It was taken that these countries had grown up, that they would give their decision on the matter and that was that. It had not, as far as I know, to go before the Parliaments of these countries at all. Surely in this country at this stage of our development, we should be in a similar position. If our Government should happen to be called upon to send out troops, there is no reason why the Government should not be able to do so without having to come to this House and debate the matter.

I am perfectly sure that the Minister had many more people volunteering to go to Cyprus than would normally be required. Some people are cribbing about extra payments for the soldiers but, as far as I know, there is nobody cribbing about paying doles to our people, about paying unemployment benefit or anything like that, but they are cribbing about paying a few bob to the soldiers who have volunteered for this expedition — soldiers who need experience and are glad to get out of the country. I think it is being misrepresented to the people that these soldiers are going out under duress. There is no truth in that. They have volunteered to go. I think they are right to do so and I believe that they are going to do a good job in Cyprus as they did in the Congo and anywhere else they were sent.

It is deeply remarkable that so many people in this House are so tremendously interested in the 500 or 600 men who are going to Cyprus, who will be well treated, well armed and well housed. I did not hear anybody kicking up a row about the hundreds of thousands of our people who had to leave this country and go to the worst conditions in which people could live as emigrants to Britain. That appears to me to be a rather peculiar situation.

I am sure that, except for those who are playing politics, the majority of our people think it only right that at last we should make it known to the world that we are grown up, that even if we are only a small nation, we are not afraid to shoulder our responsibilities and are prepared to send out our men to provide for other people in this day and age the things for which we had to fight so bitterly in times gone by. That should be remembered.

I am in complete agreement with the Government and the House in the decision to send a contingent of troops to Cyprus, but it is with personal reluctance that I express a degree of fear for the future, for the reason that I heard it said here today that our troops are no longer described, as our troops in the Congo operation were described, as a police force. We have now decided that these troops are to be equipped with the most up-to-date armament that can be obtained but we must remember that there are irregular forces in operation in Cyprus.

I do not know whether the last speaker has grown up or not but I feel quite old in this respect, and it is not outside my memory that there was a time when there were irregular forces in operation in this country. I do not think that the irregular forces in Cyprus are going quietly to hand over their weapons to any of the United Nations Force, whether Irish or not. I can also recollect the spirit in Dublin when our fallen soldiers were brought home from the Congo and I can remember the worry of the parents and relatives at the time of the fighting there. It is nothing new for Irish soldiers to fight on foreign soil. In fact, it has been said that they won every nation's battle except their own, from Dunkirk to Belgrade.

Our troops are young troops, animated by the desire to travel, but the Minister, the Taoiseach, the leader of the Fine Gael Party and the leader of the Labour Party have all expressed a fear of what might happen. Deputy Corish has made a wise suggestion that an observer should be appointed by the Government. Difficult situations can arise and if a group of our men are called on to disarm irregulars of one side or another, they may suffer loss of life. I wonder if, in such events, the world's admiration of this small nation can compensate the fathers, mothers, wives and sweethearts of those who have to make the supreme sacrifice.

I know, of course, that we have commitments and I should be the last to renege them. I would have no admiration for the Government who would renege them. I do not think we should take the matter so lightly. The word "naïvely" could be used. The possibility of these 600 men coming back is not so wonderful. Were one of my sons to volunteer and be accepted for this peace mission, I would not be able to convince his mother, and I do not think I could convince myself, that it was a peace mission. Certainly it would take a great deal to allay one's fears.

I do not believe it is possible to have a force from this or any other country going into still another country that would be recognised by the people there as a police force. We have sad recollections of a police force coming to this country and sad recollections of civil war. It is pertinent to consider these matters in relation to Cyprus.

While I would not know how to advise the Taoiseach and the Minister for External Affairs as to how they could get out of this difficult situation without letting ourselves down, I admit that it is a very difficult situation. The obligation to send a contingent has been accepted and the necessary resolution will be passed. While I would not oppose it, I certainly do not feel that I have failed to grow up or do not know what the world situation is. I would only hope that, as we have been praying for 40 years for peace in this country, there will be peace in Cyprus and peace in the world. If our contribution will help world peace, then, at whatever sacrifice it must be made.

I should like to start off by saying that I believe that we as a nation must accept our responsibility as a member of the United Nations. We must take the rough with the smooth. If we accept the heavy responsibilities which membership of that world organisation entails, we must accept the fact that at times our Government will be asked to do what may appear to be unpopular things.

However, the House and the country are entitled to ask the Taoiseach and the Minister for External Affairs certain questions as to where they stand. This country is being asked to risk the lives of its young men in the cause of world peace. The Taoiseach here today has admitted that one of the reasons why Ireland has been honoured by this invitation by U Thant is that Ireland is acceptable as having no ties, commitments or obligations to any other nation or group of nations within the United Nations. In other words, as far as U Thant is concerned, he genuinely believes that this country is a neutral country and it is because we are neutral in the world today that Ireland is acceptable or appears, at any rate, to be acceptable in the role of mediator or, shall we say, as part of a fire brigade unit in various trouble quarters.

I have not yet heard any country question the genuineness of Ireland's stand in the United Nations as outlined by some of our very excellent representatives there. Ireland has taken the view that she stands for right, not for might, that irrespective of whether it is America, Russia, Britain, France or any other country that produces an intimidatory type of motion, if that motion or the viewpoint expressed in it is not acceptable to Ireland, that is the end of it as far as Ireland is concerned. She is not prepared to be browbeaten by any nation, great or small. There is no boasting attached to that. It is simply a question of having convictions in the United Nations and it is because of these convictions that we have been asked to send a contingent to Cyprus for the purpose of keeping the peace there.

Where do the Taoiseach and the Minister for External Affairs stand in this regard? For the past two years, the Taoiseach has traipsed around Europe with this country in a bag, selling it, telling them in Germany and in France that he was prepared to accept all political and defence commitments of the EEC countries if only Ireland were taken into that organisation. That was very shortly after the time when Irish lives had been lost in the Congo and when Ireland's troops were sent to the Congo they were sent because Ireland had no ties or purported to have no ties with any European bloc or group.

In fact, this country found itself very unpopular with certain European countries because of its stand in the Congo. Yet, while Irish lives were being risked in the Congo, the Leader of this State, Deputy Seán Lemass, and the Minister for External Affairs were seeking to join these European countries in political and economic unions, countries which had been responsible for a good deal of the tragedy that obtained in the Congo over the years.

I want to know where do the Taoiseach and the Minister for External Affairs stand on this issue. After all, if it were just a matter of a trip for the Minister for External Affairs, on which he could wear his green trousers and inspect troops lying on the beach in the beautiful sunshine, nobody would mind a holiday of that kind.

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy but it seems to me that general Government international policy does not arise on this occasion.

I have listened to the Taoiseach for the past three-quarters of an hour and that is why I spoke.

I also listened to the Taoiseach.

I am not going to develop it. I will not in any circumstances go outside your ruling. I will bring a gag with me in future.

The Deputy's references to the Chair are not at all in keeping with the dignity of the House.

It is for myself.

However, I will bear with them.

I am bearing with it too, Sir. As I have said, that has been the position of the Taoiseach during the past 18 months or two years. The Taoiseach's position is most curious now when I look back and find that he has expressed on a number of occasions his regard for an organisation known as NATO.

Let us not forget that since 1948 this country has remained out of all commitments in Europe, led by the present Taoiseach and a former Taoiseach, mainly because of NATO and because of the commitments NATO would involve for us. Now, within 24 hours, we find the Taoiseach doing a complete turn about in his view on this question of NATO. I want to get that clear.

I personally have spoken in this House in favour of Ireland becoming a member of the United Nations Organisation and I am on record, prior to our admission, as asking what the position was and how soon Ireland could hope to take her place in that Organisation. The year before we gained admission, the then Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, said Ireland should be very cautious before accepting membership of UNO. I am afraid that the main concern of the present Government is not so much peace as prestige, and prestige for the Fianna Fáil Party. It does not matter to them whose lives are involved, and it never did.

That is the note of warning I want to sound here. If what the Taoiseach said today is true—that Ireland is acceptable because of her neutrality, because she has no ties with any European or world bloc—we should be told it clearly. Let us hope that the true role of Ireland, not this year or next year but at all times in the future, will be a mission for peace, as long as we are asked to give contingents of our young men for duty in countries where the danger of international conflagration exists.

Referring to the suggestion of Deputy Corish that a political observer would be a useful way for us to keep in touch with the situation in Cyprus, the Taoiseach sought to suggest that the idea behind it was to interfere with military decisions or to intervene in whatever plans the UN military personnel had in mind. That was not the idea in Deputy Corish's mind. Here again we had the Taoiseach deliberately seeking to misrepresent what Deputy Corish had in mind.

To my mind, it is a very sensible suggestion that we should be represented in Cyprus by a political observer, by a man who would not interfere in military activity but would be in a position to know what is happening—as we say outside, who would have his ear to the ground and know what is taking place, who would sense the tensions and the progress. His job would be to report directly back to the Government what he felt the situation was. From then on, it would be the Government's responsibility to put the information before the UN Security Council and the Secretary-General.

The idea behind the suggestion of Deputy Corish was to provide the Government with a political link through a man with political experience so that we should not be depending on third-hand or fourth-hand information. That would not involve intervention in the military activities. The function of the observer would be to report back to the Government on what those activities were. I see nothing wrong with that suggestion—it is one which the Taoiseach should look at most carefully.

It is no good answering that suggestion by saying that we are in direct communication by telephone with Cyprus, that Cyprus is not a vast area like the Congo. That is no answer at all. It is ridiculous. I want to know who the Taoiseach will have at the other end of the telephone, what he is, whom he represents. If we have not somebody of the type I suggest, we shall not be in a position to get factual information on what is happening in Cyprus.

It does not matter whether the area of Cyprus is as large as the plains of America or as small as Connemara. Unless you have an observer there, the facts about Connemara will be as remote as those about the plains of America. I trust, therefore, that the Government will give serious consideration to this suggestion of Deputy Corish.

Another point I should like to raise is in relation to the size of the unit involved in this affair. I understand the request is for a unit of 600 troops. I hope the Minister for Defence, who is now here but who has not spoken so far, will inform the House of the advisability of sending such a force at this stage. After all, the Taoiseach has pointed out, it is only the optimist who believes this problem will be solved in three months. If it unfortunately is true, or likely to be so, that the situation will not be eased in three months, it means our troops, as a result of the Security Council having another look at the situation, may be called on to serve another three or six months.

If the time involved in this mission is further extended, can the Minister for Defence tell us if we have the replacements? I should prefer to see a smaller and more compact unit going out which could be replaced in three months or six months, if the necessity arose. I should prefer to see that than that we should spread our lines of communication too much. I know there are military geniuses who will say you could not have a proper combat unit less than 600 strong, but I can produce, as can other Deputies, experts who could be regarded as military geniuses who will tell you the direct opposite—that half that number would form a very useful combat force which could be of tremendous assistance and which could be added to or replaced as the necessity arose.

I want to make it clear that nobody is before me in favour of accepting our responsibilities in this regard but I do not think we should be expected, with the small Army we have, to undertake commitments which we are physically unable to carry out. We are alleged to have a standing army of 12,000 and I have no doubt the Minister for External Affairs has told people in the Security Council, including the Secretary-General, that we can afford to send 600 men on that basis. I wonder how many abroad realise we have not within 60 per cent of the 12,000 and never had for the past 20 years. In fact, we have a very small army of privates to choose from and here we face a very serious problem. From the point of view of our own good name and that of our troops, I should prefer to see a smaller unit go and it could be replaced, if necessary, at a later stage rather than commit ourselves in a big way to this large figure of 600.

We have not got the men. Let us be frank—we have not got them in the service. We are "codding" nobody but ourselves. I think it is unfair to juggle with the lives of young men because of a false idea of prestige and that is what a lot of it is so far as some people opposite are concerned. I presume the decision has been taken but I want to go on record that I think, from a military point of view, approximately 250 of all ranks would be a generous contribution as a contingent from this country which has such a small standing army and which is not able to fill its own requirements in the army.

I should like to comment on the question of cost. I understood from the Taoiseach that the cost of all the equipment, tentage, weapons and so on, of the contingent would be borne by the State. Perhaps somebody would tell me what part will be borne by the United Nations. Some reference was made to the purchase of petrol and day-to-day necessaries, rations, in Cyprus and that it is expected that the United Nations will provide these. I should like to hear that elaborated. Where is the dividing line? How far do our own commitments go? How far will the Exchequer be responsible?

I do not want to be taken as saying that while we do this we should be parsimonious in the treatment of our troops or try to save on them in any way. That is the last thing I want but I wish to make clear that I, personally, and I am sure so does every member of the House, believe that our troops should be as well paid and looked after as the highest paid groups in service on behalf of the United Nations. I also want to say that if there is a question of one of those nations saying they are prepared to increase their contribution towards the Cyprus dilemma and easing the situation there, we should not fall for that type of enticement.

The blame for much of what has happened rests with one or two nations. We know that wherever one of these nations left its traces in recent years there was trouble and as they pulled out of various countries and establishments they left trouble in their wake. Here is another area in which they left trouble. Now it seems they are prepared to increase the amount of money so that some other body, perhaps an Irish contingent, would go there and clean up the trouble. The last thing I want to see is the Irish troops used as mercenariest to clean up a mess left by one of the colonial powers on its way out. If the aid of the United Nations were sought by one of these powers six months ago in all probability this situation would not have arisen. The trouble would probably have been all over in a few weeks. We can blame that on a Government outside this country which is likely to fall in the next three months. That is neither here nor there, but we know that Government refused to bring the Cyprus problem before the United Nations before it became urgent and before they found, when they interfered themselves and tried to solve it, that they had bitten off more than they could chew. Only when the situation became serious did they hand it over to the United Nations.

That is where we come in. In our anxiety to prevent international incidents and the danger of world war, we are prepared to send a contingent to Cyprus to help to keep peace there while the mess is being cleaned up. I want to make sure the United Nations are prepared to see that the repayment, whenever it is made, is made on the same basis as in the case of the Congo. We should not accept whatever extra contribution is offered by either of the two nations that have suggested in the past three weeks that they are prepared to increase their contributions now in order to pay for other countries' contingents in Cyprus to solve problems they themselves created.

I have no doubt our troops will conduct themselves with the greatest integrity and, as they have proved already, that they will be an example to others. I look forward to seeing them back here safe and sound in three months' time when their period of duty is up.

I shall be very brief. I agree with previous speakers that we must honour our commitments and take part in this exercise. Whether the Irish troops will be well received there or will be treated as if they were being imposed on the people of Cyprus is something which time alone will prove. As Deputy Carroll said earlier, soldiers on police duty are considered to be not exactly the best way of solving the problem, particularly where there are warring forces in a country. It would be just too bad if because Irish troops go there and are being asked to do a job which may turn out to be a very dirty one, any reflection should be thrown on them as happened in the Congo through no fault of theirs.

I am in entire agreement with those who say the Irish soldiers will do more than their share in Cyprus but the big trouble is that if we are accepting, as part of our commitments to the United Nations that we must send troops there, are we also accepting the position that if the United Nations instruct those troops—or those in command of them—to do certain things, they must also do those things? It is hard to be dogmatic about something like this when we are so far away from the situation, but I am sure the people concerned are gravely perturbed about the situation.

Apparently they have not got definite orders on what they are to do, and are not to do. Already some troops in Cyprus who were attempting to prevent trouble have found themselves in serious difficulties. If our troops were told they must not do certain things, and must do certain other things, they would be left open to attack from both sides. As someone else said, we are already being accused of taking sides. The Turks want partition, and we have said publicly that we do not believe partition is the solution. For that reason, it is quite possible that the Irish troops will find themselves at variance with the Turkish minority from the word "go".

As far as the question of going abroad is concerned, there are a few problems for the Minister for Defence. When the question of sending troops abroad first came up, it was a great morale booster for the Army. People were getting tired of hanging around in barracks and doing fatigues. They felt at last there was something to be done, and it put new life into them. It also created a new respect for the Irish soldier. I have said again and again that as a nation we do not give to our own soldiers the respect to which they are entitled. Now that the Cyprus situation has developed, people who were inclined to consider the soldier in uniform an inferior being, give him the respect that is his due. I hope that will continue whether our troops go abroad or not.

Having said that, I should like to point out that a serious position arises because, as Deputy McQuillan said, our Army is very small, and with the commitments we have in the Congo, with those in the Congo, those who are on leave from the Congo, and those who are going to Cyprus, a big proportion of our standing Army is tied up in work other than that for which the Army was intended. I should like the Minister for Defence to say, if he intervenes—if not, perhaps the Minister for External Affairs would comment—whether the Army which will be left in this country is in a position to carry out the duties for which it is intended, or are we slowly proving that, in fact, we do not need an Army? Are we reaching the stage now where we find we do not need an Army?

If my knowledge of the Army is as up to date as I think it is, I believe that a very high proportion of our active troops are going abroad. In addition, I understand—again I may be wrong— that when troops return from overseas duties, it is not uncommon that they find the inactivity very tiring, and the result is that they apply for a discharge on the slightest pretext. That may be incorrect, but I am told it is so. It is too bad if that is the result of the overseas experience of our Army personnel.

I believe that not only should our troops abroad be paid as highly as the troops of any other nation but that the troops at home need a tremendous increase in wages and salaries in order to improve their status. Deputy Leneghan referred to this in a roundabout way because he said we were prepared to give people the dole but we were not prepared to pay them as soldiers. To my mind, that was a slight on the Army because there is no comparison. People do not join the Army because they cannot do anything but draw the dole. I believe our troops are entitled to the highest rates of pay at home and, when they are abroad, their pay should be at one with those with whom they are serving.

A suggestion has been made that because of the fact that only a limited number of nations are making an extra contribution to meet the cost of the Cyprus affair, we should not accept that payment and that, in fact, the State, or the taxpayers, should carry the cost. As I see it, we have met our financial commitments to the United Nations. If, in addition, we are to pay out of the taxpayers' money, out of the Exchequer, the cost of the troops who go overseas, is it not a fact that we are contributing portion of the amount which some of the very big countries did not pay and should have paid? Is it not a fact that, in effect, we are putting money into the kitty which should have been paid by Russia and some other countries who opted out for reasons best known to themselves? That is an aspect which should be examined by the Government. We should not be put in a position where we can be accused of paying money for countries which are much better able to pay than we are. We are contributing the manpower to do the job.

I am in complete agreement with Deputy McQuillan on the question of the strength of a battalion. Some time ago the Minister got a little angry with me when I asked him what is the strength of a battalion. Possibly he thought I was trying to be a little awkward but, in fact, I was trying to bring out a point that has been brought out now. We are sending out what we call a battalion but, as the Minister well knows, 600 is not the strength of an Irish battalion, and I understand it is not the strength of a battalion in other counties. Whatever we call them, we are sending out 600 men. If they have to be replaced, in addition to our Congo commitments, this country will be in a very extraordinary position. I do not want to say any more about that except that it is an aspect that should be fully considered. As Deputy McQuillan and someone else said, it would be better if we sent a smaller force and we were able to replace them with trained personnel when the time came, rather than send out 600 who must stay in Cyprus if our troops are to be there for longer than three months.

The question of forcing people to go does not arise. We are well aware that our soldiers are anxious to go abroad. There are three reasons. The first is that we have people who are "browned-off" hanging around barracks and want to get away. They are the people who have been a long time in the Army. Secondly, there are the young men who want a bit of experience and excitement and are entitled to look for it. Thirdly—and this is one of the reasons I suggest the Army should be better paid—there are the fathers of families who want to go abroad because they want the extra money. They will tell anyone who asks them that with the extra money they got for their Congo service they were able to do something for their families which they could not do out of their Army pay.

I believe we should try to meet our commitments and I believe we are doing so. I think we should send only the number that can be replaced. If the number is 600 and we feel quite sure we can supply another 600 inside three or six months, if the occasion arises, that is all right. But, if not, the number should not be 600. Any Army officer knows that he should not engage more than those that can be replaced, if the necessity arises.

The Taoiseach covered most of the points that were raised up to the time he spoke. It remains for me to deal only with one or two points of detail. We must all agree with Deputy Dillon that this is a dangerous operation and a very complicated one. Because it was dangerous and complicated, the Government had hesitations when they were first invited to send a battalion to Cyprus. Although the Secretary General's authority to raise forces to send to Cyprus was not accompanied by a commitment either by the Security Council or the Assembly to supply the money, the Government felt in the circumstances that we should send a force and that, while accepting whatever stores that might be necessary in Cyprus itself, we should not accept payment from the voluntary funds to the individual soldiers.

Only a very few countries have subscribed on a voluntary basis. It is altogether unsatisfactory that an operation should be undertaken by the United Nations for which all nations should not have to pay according to the ordinary proportion of their annual subscription. We feel keenly that if the UN is to make progress in the establishment of peace-keeping machinery it must be accepted that every country that has a voice in deciding policy in the UN should also be under the obligation and be compelled to pay its proportionate share of the expenses of the United Nations, including peace-keeping operations. We have not reached that stage.

The world is still very troubled. Cyprus, being situated in the Middle East, is an explosive situation. I think we all agree that we must send a contingent to Cyprus even though we are not fully satisfied with all the surrounding conditions.

As far as I know, Britain and Canada are paying the full cost of all their troops and are not asking for repayment. In addition, I think they are making a subscription to the voluntary fund. Finland and Sweden have decided in principle to charge all their extra and extraordinary costs, including pay and allowances, to the voluntary fund but Sweden is considering making a voluntary contribution. As Deputies will remember, the first effort to raise a peace-keeping force in Cyprus was done outside the United Nations. At that time, nations were invited to send troops and to pay all their expenses.

I agree with Deputy Dillon that we should have a better arrangement for assembling troops whenever the United Nations decide that a peace-keeping force should be sent to any part of the world. However, it will take some time to evolve to the point where the United Nations can raise and pay an army that has allegiance to the United Nations only. Meantime we have to go as we can. Arrangements have been made in many countries which have large armies that a certain section of the army—a battalion or a brigade—should be set aside, fully equipped and trained, ready to go anywhere it is asked to go. It would be ideal if that could be done in every country that is willing to provide a contingent for a peace-keeping force. It would be very expensive in this country to keep trained separately the number of troops that we could assemble and send abroad within a couple of weeks. We have 350 in the Congo and we shall have 600 or so in Cyprus. It would be a large proportion of our Army and, as the Army is turning over every so often, it would be an expensive operation.

For myself, I believe that the most important thing is that the United nations should have a number of headquarters staffs trained and ready to put into a situation which requires a peace-keeping operation. It is more important, I think, to have a general headquarters staff in an operation like Cyprus or the Congo or the Middle East, trained and ready to go in, than it is to have the infantry or other units of which the force is comprised assembled and ready. It is easier to improvise a combination of units already trained than it is to improvise a trained headquarters staff who know each other and who are accustomed to working along certain lines and who are also familiar with all the regulations and the outlook of the United Nations.

Our Army at the present time contains quite a number of men who have had long service in the Congo. We very quickly assembled the number of men from whom the volunteers were drawn for this battalion. It was not a question so much of any inability of the Army to supply the battalion of troops as it was the inability of the Government to get the assurances and understandings that were necessary to enable them to propose that we should send a contingent to Cyprus.

As far as equipment is concerned, our troops will be equipped up to the limit the United Nations has requested. We are getting additional armoured cars to replace those worn out in the Congo and which, as far as I understand, were not worth bringing home. Our troops will have all the equipment that an infantry battalion would have in the normal way.

Might I interrupt the Minister? Is he prepared to certify to us now that our troops will have adequate equipment to deal with the tasks they may be called upon to perform?

Our troops will be as fully equipped and as heavily equipped as the Swedish battalion or the Canadian battalion.

If the Minister gives us that assurance——

The British troops are already there with all the equipment in their military bases. The Deputy must remember that there is a limitation to the tasks that our troops will be called upon to perform. They will not be asked to face a large, well-organised army with heavy equipment, with aeroplanes, and so on. They will have to deal with the two forces that are now allegedly fighting on behalf of their respective communities. They have machine guns, bazookas, and so on. Our troops will, we believe, have better.

In the case of the Congo, the story was somewhat different. The Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time was very keen that our troops should have only light weapons. Having been in the Congo and seen the equipment that potential adversaries might have, I suggested to the Minister for Defence and our Headquarters Staff that our troops should go out much more heavily equipped. I think it was a good thing that they did. I think that the more heavily equipped troops are vis-à-vis their opponents, the less likelihood there is they will have to use their equipment at all. I am hoping that, with the help of God, things will calm down in Cyprus. However, in order to be prepared for every contingency, our troops will be much more heavily equipped than the troops who went to the Congo originally.

Deputy Corish suggested having a Government representative in Cyprus. The Taoiseach dealt with that suggestion. There is no need for me to repeat what he said. However, I should like to point out that it was not the absence of reliable information from the Congo that caused the scare here at one period. It was the sending out deliberately of false reports as part of a war of nerves. It was because the Government here knew the truth about the incidence of casualties and the difficulty of getting newspapers to accept the truth vis-à-vis what was put on the wires by the other side, that I was sent out to the Congo for the purpose of sending back information which would be accepted——

But the Minister had to go to the Congo to do that.

I know, but it was not because we did not have the information. We had the information—it was being given to the newspapers every day—with regard to the course of events in Katanga, Kolwesi, and so on. It was the deliberate falsification of the news on the other side which caused the trouble. There will be in Cyprus, as part of the United Nations headquarters command there, an office of information which will give out to the newspapers and the other mass media of communication the facts of the situation from day to day. I hope it will be much more difficult to twist the truth about United Nations activities in Cyprus than it was in the Congo. Our troops were fully absolved from the charges made against them from time to time. In one case it took six months to get a newspaper of a certain country to withdraw a charge, but the charge against our troops was followed up and it was finally withdrawn.

I want to say again to Deputy Dillon, and others, that the Government realise that this is a dangerous operation. The men who have volunteered also realise it is a dangerous operation. We are very proud that more than enough men volunteered, many more than enough, for this battalion, which is designed to help Ireland to do its share in keeping the peace. As Deputy Cosgrave said, we have a vested interest in world peace. It is that vested interest that is taking us to Cyprus. Let us hope the efforts of our soldiers there will help to stabilise the situation and lead us to peace.

Question put and agreed to.