Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (46)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

46. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the cost of participation in Operation Sophia annually since involvement in terms of wages, fuel, ship maintenance and other costs; and if the costs are recoupable from the EU. [31872/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Operation Sophia is primarily a security operation which specifically seeks to counter human trafficking and smuggling in the Southern Central Mediterranean by taking action against the criminal networks and disrupting the smugglers business model.

In July 2017, Government and Dáil approval was secured for the deployment of an Irish Naval Service vessel as part of Operation Sophia.  The participation by L.É. Niamh in Operation Sophia over an 11-week period represented the first involvement by the Naval Service in a multilateral security operation under a UN mandate.

In February 2018, the Government approved a further Naval Service contribution to Operation Sophia for a period of approximately 8 months.  L.É. Samuel Beckett deployed from mid April to mid-July and was replaced thereafter in the area of operations by L.É. James Joyce.

The cost of participation in Operation Sophia in 2017 and 2018 is set out in the table below.  As the Deputy will appreciate, the pay costs for Naval Force Personnel would have been incurred in the normal course and do not represent an additional cost for the mission.

 

2017 (€m)

2018 (€m)

Pay 

 1.07

 2.6

Allowances

 0.35

 1.03

Fuel and other ancillary costs

 0.46

 1.44

All contributing countries to the EU-led Operation Sophia are responsible for their own costs and they are not recoupable from the EU. In addition, Ireland currently contributes to the common costs of this mission under the ATHENA mechanism.  ATHENA is the mechanism which administers the financing of common costs of EU operations having military or defence implications, on behalf of EU Member States contributing to the financing of EU military operations.  Ireland's contribution to the common costs of Operation Sophia as part of our commitments under the ATHENA mechanism amounted to approximately €47,278 in 2017 and €72,282 in 2018.

A decision was adopted by the European Council on 29th March 2019 to extend the mandate of Operation Sophia for six months with a temporary suspension of its naval assets while Member States continue working on a solution related to disembarkation.  As a result, no Irish Naval Service vessel has been deployed to this mission in 2019.

Defence Forces personnel continue to occupy three posts in the Operational Headquarters of this EU naval mission in Rome.