62. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the benefits for Ireland of the decision to sign up for PESCO; the impact this will have for members of the Defence Forces in County Kildare and nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52920/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As the Deputy is aware PESCO is a mechanism provided for in the Treaty of the European Union to enable participating member States to come together and, on a project by project basis, jointly develop military crisis management capabilities for use in support of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and missions in support of international peace and security.

Ireland is a strong proponent of the important role the EU can play in support of international peace and security and the UN. It is important therefore to remain fully engaged in all CSDP processes. Fully participating in these developments ensures that we have a voice and that we can influence the evolution of these initiatives.

Now that we are participating in PESCO the focus for Ireland will be on identifying key PESCO projects which enhance the capability and capacity of the Defence Forces to successfully undertake modern complex UN mandated missions, including CSDP operations and on supporting interoperability in this regard. Consideration is currently being given to the potential PESCO projects in which Ireland will participate. The work on elaborating the details of these project proposals and potential participants is currently ongoing at EU level and Ireland is playing its full part in those deliberations.

Participation in PESCO will therefore allow the men and women of our Defence Forces, from all across the country including Co. Kildare, to continue to gain access to the latest and best equipment and training. This will further enhance their capabilities for peacekeeping operations and above all help to ensure their security and safety when deployed on some of the most challenging UN mandated peace-keeping, peace enforcement and EU Training missions abroad.

When the Defence Forces deploy overseas our men and women never do so alone. We always work in close cooperation with other countries deployed on such operations. PESCO is also a means of enhancing interoperability with our future project partners, something that will be off huge benefit for our troops on future missions overseas.