Thursday, 8 October 2020

Ceisteanna (162)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

162. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Defence the role of the Defence Forces in EU Operation IRINI; the number of Defence Forces personnel currently assigned to this mission; the operational work that has been carried out to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29275/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Operation IRINI, the UN mandated EU Naval mission in the eastern Mediterranean was launched on the 31st of March 2020. Its core task is the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya (through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets).

As secondary tasks, the operation will contribute to the implementation of UN measures to prevent illicit export of petroleum from Libya, assist in the development of the Libyan Coast Guard & Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea and contribute to the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks, in accordance with the applicable international law, including UNCLOS and UN Security Council Resolution 2240 (2015).

Ireland currently has three members of the Defence Forces deployed to Operation IRINI. These personnel are deployed to the Operational Headquarters (OHQ) in Rome in staff officer posts.

Since early May, when the Operation commenced activities at sea, Irini assets have patrolled the central Mediterranean and performed 650 hailings and 12 friendly approaches (visits on board merchant vessels). The Operation has monitored suspect vessels at sea in more than ten ports and landing points. It detected 80 suspect flights back and forth to Libya, monitoring 25 airports and landing strips. In September, Operation Irini personnel boarded and inspected a Merchant Vessel which was suspected of violating the UN arms embargo on Libya as it was on route to a Libyan port carrying jet fuel. This ship was diverted to an EU port for further investigation.