Thursday, 10 May 2018

Ceisteanna (65)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

65. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which he has had discussions at EU and UN level with regard to future deployment of the Defence Forces overseas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20732/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As of 01 May 2018, Ireland is contributing 637 personnel to 9 different missions throughout the world. The main overseas missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 369 personnel and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria with 138 personnel.

Other missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) with 19 personnel; the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina with five personnel; the NATO-led international security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo with 12 personnel and the Naval Service EU Naval Mission (Op Sophia) with 61 personnel which includes four personnel in the Headquarters.

Ireland also contributes 20 observers and staff to various United Nations and OSCE missions and 13 other personnel to staff appointments at UN, EU and OSCE headquarters.

The current contribution of some 637 personnel to overseas missions reflects the Government’s continued commitment to our responsibilities in the area of international peace and security.

With regard to any future deployments of Defence Forces personnel overseas, Ireland receives requests from time to time in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition at both Ministerial and official level, there is continual engagement relating to current peacekeeping missions particularly with other EU countries.

Finland has announced earlier this year that its current national mandate for participation in the Irish-Finnish Battalion in UNIFIL will end on 31 December 2018 and will not be renewed. Finland will therefore withdraw from Irish/Battalion by the end of the year. Ireland is committed to continuing participation in the UNIFIL mission and is currently considering the options that are available. These include the option to backfill positions by deploying additional Irish personnel. Another option is to identify a partner country to replace the Finnish contingent and discussions are on-going in this regard.

Due to Ireland's current level of commitment in overseas peacekeeping operations, notably to UNDOF, UNIFIL and Operation Sophia, we are not in a position to make any significant commitment to other missions at this time.