96. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 161 of 17 April 2018, the number of Defence Forces personnel who were in Afghanistan for the two full periods identified (details supplied); and if the number of Defence Forces personnel exceeded 12 during this period. (Question 18019/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 96 to 98, inclusive, together.

All published numbers of Defence Forces personnel serving overseas includes members of the Army Ranger Wing serving on those missions where relevant.

Personnel from the Army Ranger Wing (ARW) served in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from October 2006 to March 2007 and from September 2014 to March 2015. They also participated in the follow-on mission, Resolute Support Mission (RSM). There was a total of 7 personnel deployed operationally in ISAF at any one time and they rotated on a six monthly basis.

The conditions under which the Defence Forces may participate on overseas peace support operations are set out in the Defence Acts. The conditions, known as the “triple lock”, must be satisfied where personnel are being deployed as part of a International United Nations Force, whereby the mission must be authorised/mandated by the United Nations; it must be approved by Government; and it must be approved by way of a resolution of Dáil Éireann, where the size of a Defence Forces contribution is more than twelve personnel. As there were less than twelve personnel serving in ISAF, Dáil Éireann approval was not required.

ARW personnel deployed to ISAF were employed within Staff appointments all of which were located within the ISAF Headquarters in Kabul. Ireland is no longer participating in the mission in Afghanistan.

ARW personnel are currently serving in one mission, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), participation in which was approved by Dáil Éireann.