24. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the impact of increased defence spending as a result of the decision to join PESCO, particularly in relation to public services. (Question 3176/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 9, 21, 23, 24, 31 and 37 together.

Under the Defence Acts, the deployment of the Defence Forces overseas on peacekeeping missions requires the approval of the Government and Dáil Éireann and the specific mission must be authorised by the United Nations Security Council. This is what is termed the “triple-lock”. The United Nations Security Council has the primary role in relation to the maintenance of international peace and security, and in authorising peacekeeping operations to this end. However, neither the UN nor the UN Security Council have any role in mandating what or how States develop or procure military capability and equipment. As such, the “Triple- Lock” does not and cannot apply to Ireland’s participation in PESCO projects.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was consulted and fully engaged in all aspects of the PESCO decision. The Attorney General confirmed that there was no legal or constitutional impediment to Ireland participating in PESCO once Government and Dáil Éireann approval were obtained in accordance with the provisions of the Defence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009.

Pursuant to Section 3 (1) of the 2009 Act, both the Government and Dáil Éireann approved Ireland’s participation in PESCO. There is no specific requirement to seek further approval for any joint capability development or procurement initiatives which Ireland may pursue under PESCO. That said, I will of course update the House on continuing developments on CSDP in the normal course which will include our participation in PESCO projects.

Expenditure allocations for all Departments, both current (2018-2020) and capital (2018-2021), were published as part of the Budget documentation. It is expected that any investment or expenditure on defence, including that arising from Ireland’s participation in PESCO, will be met from within these allocations. As such, PESCO will not result in a requirement for additional expenditure beyond the approved allocations nor is it expected to impact on any other areas of public expenditure.

I have already arranged for the key PESCO documents and Ireland’s notification to be lodged in the Dáil Library. In relation to Ireland’s National Implementation Plans (NIP), this is currently in draft form and finalisation depends on further Council Decisions on PESCO Projects and governance expected in the coming months. Once finalised, probably in mid-2018, consideration can then be given to its publication.