27. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the level of deployment and location of Irish troops overseas on UN or EU related missions; the extent to which further missions are planned or required; the extent to which the need for upgrading of equipment has been noted arising from such deployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10722/18 asked on 06 Mar 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As of 01 February 2018, Ireland is contributing 586 Defence Forces personnel to 9 different missions throughout the world and also to a range of international organisations and National representations.

The main overseas missions in which the Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 375 personnel and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria with 136 personnel.

The 375 personnel in UNIFIL serve alongside Finnish Armed Forces as a part of a joint battalion of which Ireland took over command in November 2016.  As a consequence of taking over command,  an additional Company of some 150 personnel were deployed as part of Ireland’s contribution to this mission.

Ireland has a long and continuous record of contributing to peacekeeping missions.  Participation in these missions demonstrates Ireland’s strong support for the role of the United Nations in international peacekeeping.  The current contribution of some 586 personnel to overseas missions reflects the Government’s continued commitment to our responsibilities in this area. 

At the Government  Meeting earlier this week, I secured approval for the deployment in 2018 of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force  to serve once again as part of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy naval mission in the Mediterranean,  Operation Sophia. Arrangements are currently being made for two Irish naval vessels to deploy consecutively under rotation for a period of approximately 32 weeks in total.  

The Department of Defence constantly reviews the deployment of Defence Forces personnel overseas.  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.

Defence Forces personnel serving on all overseas missions are equipped with the most modern and effective equipment.  This equipment enables troops to carry out the mission assigned, as well as providing the required protection specific to the mission. Ongoing threat assessments are carried out in mission areas and we continually review both equipment and force assets, to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are appropriately equipped to fulfil their roles.  I am satisfied that all appropriate security measures are in place to ensure the safety of all Defence Forces personnel serving overseas.

Full details of all personnel currently serving overseas are listed in the following table.

MEMBERS OF THE PERMANENT DEFENCE FORCE SERVING OVERSEAS AS OF 01 FEBRUARY 2018

UN MISSIONS   
UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) HQUNIFIL 111th Infantry BattalionUNIFIL Sector West HQ 303378
UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation) Israel and Syria  12
MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara)
MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic of the Congo) 
UNDOF (FHQ Staff, Camp Ziouani - Alpha side)UNDOF (COS Staff - Camp Faouar - Bravo side)UNDOF 56th Infantry Group (Camp Ziouani)  62128
TOTAL 530 
UN MANDATED MISSIONS  
EUFOR (EU-led Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)
EUTM Mali (EU-led Training Mission)  20 
KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) HQ  12 
Operational HQ/Floating HQ (Operation Sophia HQ) 
TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH UN MISSIONS 571 
   
ORGANISATION FOR SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE (OSCE)  
Staff Officer, High Level Planning Group, Vienna 1
TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH OSCE 1
   
EU MILITARY STAFF  
Brussels 4
   
MILITARY REPRESENTATIVES/ADVISERS/STAFF  
Military Adviser, Permanent Mission to UN, New York 1
Military Adviser, Irish Delegation to OSCE, Vienna 1
Military Representative to EU (Brussels) 4
Liaison Officer of Ireland, NATO/PfP (Brussels) 2
EU OHQ Operation Althea, Mons, Belgium 1
Irish Liaison Officer to SHAPE & Military Co-Op Division, Mons, Belgium 1
   
TOTAL NUMBER OF DEFENCE FORCES PERSONNEL SERVING OVERSEAS 586