The Irish delegation consisted of Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Defence, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Sean Sherlock T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Maurice Quinn, Secretary General, Department of Defence, Lieutenant General Conor O’Boyle, Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces and Ms. Marion Mannion, Special Adviser to Minister Fitzgerald.
On arrival in Valetta at around 9.00 p.m, the delegation, accompanied by the Irish Ambassador to Malta, H.E. Pádraig Mac Coscair, proceeded directly to a working dinner hosted by the Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Mr. Carmelo Abela. Responsibility for the Armed Forces of Malta falls within the responsibility of Minister Abela. The dinner was also attended by the Maltese Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government, Mr. Owen Bonnici, the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, Dr. Helena Dalli, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security, Mr. Kevin Mahoney, the Chief of Staff at the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security, Mr. Anthony Vella Gregory and the Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi.
The primary focus of the discussion at the working dinner was the broad context of the migrant crisis, from causes through to the comprehensive response being pursued by the international community. Discussion also ranged across issues of mutual interest within the areas of responsibility of all six Ministers.
On 7 July, a bilateral meeting took place between myself and Minister Abela on board the LE Eithne. In addition to reviewing the response to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and the contribution of the mission of the LE Eithne, the meeting addressed issues of mutual interest and practical bilateral cooperation in Defence matters between Ireland and Malta.
Minister Abela expressed his country's appreciation of the transfer of the LE Aoife to the Armed Forces of Malta by the Irish Defence Forces last month. Minister Abela said the ship will be useful in supporting Malta's work in border security and the migration crisis affecting the Central Mediterranean. The contribution of the ship will help in bridging a gap in Malta's naval capacity pending their future acquisition of a new Offshore Patrol Vessel. The issue of ongoing training of personnel of the Armed Forces of Malta by the Irish Defence Forces was also discussed.
I travelled to Malta on 6 July by Government Jet with the Irish delegation. I departed Malta at 13.30 hours on 7 July by commercial airline for Paris for official Department of Agriculture business.