Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ceisteanna (48)

Richard Boyd Barrett


48. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on a position paper (details supplied) which proposes moving Ireland into an EU defence union and reviewing the triple lock mechanism for Irish involvement in EU or other military operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12833/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Any discussion papers, such as this one, which stimulate debate and discussion in the area of security and defence and contribute to public discourse in that regard are of course to be welcomed. That is not to say that any positions contained within the paper reflect Government policy but they simply contribute to a healthy, inclusive debate which is vital in a fully functioning, robust democracy.

As the Deputy will be aware, discussions within the EU in the area of defence and security take place in the context of the Common Security and Defence Policy for which decisions require the unanimous approval of all Member States. These discussions take place at regular meetings of Heads of State and Government, at Ministerial level meetings and through Council preparatory bodies.

Like any other discussion papers produced in the context of a wider debate on the future of European security and defence, this will be comprehended as part of the overall consideration by Government of future developments and potential policy responses in this area. 

As a policy, the Triple Lock mechanism is not under review at this time.  In the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006 the triple lock, which governs the deployment of the Defence Forces on international peace support and crisis management operations, remains unaffected.

In relation to Ireland moving into a defence union, the 2015 White Paper on Defence has clearly reaffirmed "that Ireland will continue to maintain a policy of military neutrality which is characterised by non-membership of military alliances and non-participation in common or mutual defence arrangements".

Within the EU, it is accepted that defence and security is a national competence and that any decisions require unanimity. Ireland continues to have a strong and equal voice on defence issues within the EU institutions. The treaties require that the EU respects the specific and different policies of Member States in the area of security and defence and that has not changed.

Our approach to consideration of any proposals or potential future implementation on security and defence cooperation will as always remain constructive and realistic.  We will continue to carefully consider all proposals and developments in these areas to ensure that that proposals and any potential future development add value and support coordinated capability development in support of CSDP in accordance with EU Treaties and related protocols.