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Snippet Contents:

I wish everyone a happy new year and success throughout the year.
I will answer Deputy Haughey's two questions. The House agreed that Ireland would join PESCO at the initial stage so that we would have an input into what happened in future and not join later as a third party country. That was the right course to take. Since the co-operation involved is in line with the Lisbon treaty, it does not impact on our neutrality. Nor would we allow it to reach that point. Politically, there would have to be a referendum to put the question to the people if there were an impact. We have been clear that, similar to countries like Austria, Finland and Sweden, which are neutrals, the kinds of project in which we will be involved will be maritime surveillance, cybersecurity and strengthening of our current peacekeeping missions. Ireland and its soldiers have an excellent reputation on peacekeeping missions. We view PESCO as a mechanism to enhance that as well as our co-operation with other member states. The climate has changed. As the Taoiseach outlined, we need to be able to co-operate with other member states on tackling terrorism, cybercrime and drug trafficking.
I see no reason not to keep the House updated on those missions in which we take part. None of them will impact on our neutrality.
Regarding migration, the EU and Ireland as a part of it have adopted a broad range of measures. We are engaging with countries of origin and transit to try to address the root causes of migration. We have agreed to a plan relocating migrants in Italy and Greece across the EU. We have launched the EUNAVFOR Med, or Operation Sophia, and have provided substantial financial assistance to countries that are hosting large numbers of migrants.
At the European Council meeting, leaders held an informal discussion on migration. No conclusion was reached. Currently, the two schools of thought are whether countries that have given substantial amounts of funding should also have to take in substantial numbers of migrants and whether specific figures should be allocated to specific countries. There has been no resolution to that debate yet, but I hope for more definition in the coming Council meetings.
Ireland's view is that there should be a stand-alone solidarity instrument that is not attached to the Dublin review. That is the position that we have put forward and we will put it forward again at the next stage of discussions or negotiations.