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Written Answers. - Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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[1059]

 221. Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if the Government intends to support or co-operate with a war on Iraq if Iraq fails to comply with the latest UN Security Council resolution. [24620/02]

 222. Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if Dáil Éireann will have the opportunity to both fully debate and vote on whether Ireland participates in a war in the event of any war on Iraq, be it unilateral or multilateral. [24621/02]

 225. Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  the reason there has been no debate to date in Dáil Éireann on the impending war on Iraq; the reason there was no debate in Dáil Éireann on this matter in advance of the UN Security Council vote on the most recent resolution; if there will be a full debate in Dáil Éireann in advance of any vote on further UN Security Council resolution on this issue; and if not, the reason therefor. [24624/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen I propose to take Questions Nos. 221, 222 and 225 together.

Security Council Resolution 1441, to which the Deputy refers, does not mandate military action against Iraq. The purpose of Resolution 1441 is to bring about the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities, thereby averting any need for further action by the council. The resolution lays down procedures which would require the question of any Iraqi non-compliance to be considered by a further meeting of the Security Council. It would then be for the Security Council to assess whether Iraq has failed to meet its obligations, and to decide on any action which may be required. This decision might include authorising the use of force, although in the view of the Government this should be a matter of last resort.

Ireland, like all other UN member states, is bound under the UN Charter to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. If any resolution authorising the use of force were to be passed, it would be for the Government to decide what action should be taken, subject to any Constitutional or legal requirements to seek the approval or assent of the Dáil.

Those circumstances do not arise at present. In determining Ireland's position, the Government is acting under Article 29.4 of the Constitution which provides that the executive power of the State in connection with its external relations be exercised by or on the authority of the Government. The Government will continue to act on this basis.

The question of Iraq was debated on the adjournment of the House on 23 October 2002. In addition, the Dáil and the Joint Committee on European Affairs have discussed developments at the Security Council in relation to Iraq on numer[1060] ous occasions in recent weeks, including at Question Time and on the Order of Business. I will continue to keep the Dáil informed of developments.

 223. Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if, in the event of war on Iraq, Dáil Éireann will have the opportunity to both fully debate and vote on whether to continue to extend or to withdraw permission for foreign military overflights and landings under the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order, 1952. [24622/02]

 224. Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if, in the event of military action against Iraq authorised by a UN Security Council resolution, Dáil Éireann will have the opportunity to fully debate and vote on the waiver of normal overflight permission conditions to allow overflights or landings of aircraft bound for war. [24623/02]

 227. Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if, in the event of a UN Security Council resolution authorising the use of military force, he will be seeking the mobilisation and deployment of the EU's Rapid Reaction Force into battle for the first time in Iraq. [24626/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen I propose to take Questions Nos. 223, 224 and 227 together.

I have no doubt that in the event of military action against Iraq arising from its non-compliance with Security Council Resolution 1441, all aspects of the matter will be debated by this House. As regards the granting of overflight or landing permission, the Government will, at all times, act in accordance with its Constitutional and legal obligations.

I would not foresee the EU Rapid Reaction Force as having a role in a military offensive against the Iraqi regime and its forces, even where such action was sanctioned by the UN Security Council. Such action would, in my view, be inappropriate to a force whose capabilities are primarily designed for humanitarian and crisis management tasks.

Question No. 225 answered with Question No. 221.


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