Written Answers. - EU Presidency.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

96 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Defence if he has sought sanction for the recruitment of additional personnel for the period of the Irish Presidency of the EU; if sanction has been given; the additional duties the Defence Forces are expected to carry out during the period of the Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18768/03]

Central planning for Ireland's Presidency of the EU which will take place between January and June 2004, has been ongoing over the last 12 months under the stewardship of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Officials from my Department, both civilian and military, have been actively involved in the planning process. Good progress is being made, both centrally and within my Department, for the important responsibilities that the Presidency will entail next year.

In relation to resources, officials in my Department have been examining the extent of the increased work responsibilities which are expected during the Presidency with a view towards establishing the amount of dedicated resources which will be required. Like most other Departments, this process has included ongoing consultations with the Department of Finance in relation to staffing requirements.
Precise details of duties which will be undertaken by the Defence Forces during the period of the Presidency have not yet been finalised. In addition to the requirements expected to arise in relation to the military aspects of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), it can be envisaged that the Defence Forces will provide some assistance in the form of aid to the civil power, such as assisting the gardaí with security, as was the case during previous Irish Presidencies.