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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Troops in Cyprus.

Tuesday, 28 June 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 223 No. 9

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1.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Michael B Yeats Zoom on Michael B Yeats asked the Minister for External Affairs the amount of money still due to the Government by UNO in respect of commitments undertaken in Cyprus.

Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Aiken): Information on Frank Aiken Zoom on Frank Aiken Of the £1,224,535 of the total extra and extraordinary expenditure which we incurred up to 26th June, 1966 in maintaining contingents in Cyprus, two sums have already been paid, viz. £243,218 and £178,550 leaving a balance of £802,767 and this balance is covered by certain assurances from the Secretary General which I propose to repeat for the information of the Dáil:

From March, 1964, when the United Nations Force in Cyprus was established, to 26th June, 1966, when the last three months Security Council mandate for the Force expired, the total estimated extra and extraordinary expenditure arising out of the maintenance of the Irish contingent was £1,224,535. This was made up of (a) £977,765 in respect of extra allowances paid to our troops for service in United Nations peace-keeping operations; (b) £6,770 in respect of death and disability claims; and (c) £240,000 in respect of other expenses, mainly stores, clothing and depreciation of equipment.

Of the total expenditure of £1,224,535, £568,480 which was incurred [1314] since June, 1965 is covered by a firm assurance of reimbursement, and claims totalling £243,218 relating to this period have been presented and reimbursed. Claims in respect of the balance of the £568,480 are being prepared and will be presented in the near future.

The remaining £656,055 relating to the period March, 1964 to June, 1965, is covered by an assurance from the Secretary-General that he will use his best endeavours towards its reimbursement, and of this amount £178,550 has already been reimbursed.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Is it now the position that, having stood upon a point of principle that we would not accept reimbursement except from the general funds of the United Nations organisation, that we declined to accept reimbursement from the fund contributed to by only certain members of the organisation on the ground that that would be treating the troops like mercenaries, we now have to abandon that point of principle owing to the financial stringencies in which the Government at present find themselves?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken Zoom on Frank Aiken As the Deputy is aware, I have dealt with this matter on several occasions in the Dáil. When we were asked to go originally in March, 1964, the Security Council had given a mandate for the Force for a period of six months. We stated to the Secretary General that we thought it was unwise that the expense of the Force should be met by the voluntary funds and that we would not take it. Instead of the operation ending six months after March, 1964, the mandate was renewed for several periods since. At a point we said we could not go unless we were reimbursed and we asked for reimbursement. As I have described here, the Secretary-General has met the expenses since June last year and he has given an assurance that he would use his best endeavours to repay the expenses previous to that. As I have said, a sum of £178,550 has been reimbursed.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon The Minister has not answered my point. I want some clarification [1315] with regard to this. As I understood it, the Minister announced to the House a Government decision that on a point of principle, we would not accept reimbursement from a fund contributed by certain individual members of the United Nations. We regarded ourselves as agents of the United Nations Organisation and not of any particular group of nations. This is a view I fully understand. I understand the Minister now to say that that point of principle is abandoned on the ground that the operation has become too costly for us to stand. I understand that. What I cannot understand is this: Is this country prepared to sell a point of principle for cash, if we cannot in conscience continue to serve as servants of a group of nations rather than as the United Nations Organisation? Do we continue to serve as servants of a group rather than of UNO and abandon the point of principle because we cannot afford to maintain it?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken Zoom on Frank Aiken I cannot believe that the Deputy is so dense as he appears to be.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Being abusive does not answer my question.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken Zoom on Frank Aiken I cannot believe that. This question has been answered on at least two occasions in full. I have answered it in full again today. I do not believe it is appropriate for the United Nations to depend on voluntary subscriptions for the continuance of its work in any field, whether it is peace-keeping or other activities. That is a very dangerous situation. I spent three months last year putting forward a resolution, pressing a resolution, that we should get back to the compulsory payments for all activities of the United Nations.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon The Minister has not succeeded in doing it. The plain fact is we cannot afford to maintain principles.


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