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 Header Item Defence Forces Operations (Continued)
 Header Item Defence Forces Operations

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace] Between Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and Iraq, there is much illegal activity that we have facilitated. This breaches our neutrality, although we have not signed the Hague document. We still have obligations as a declared neutral country and must take some responsibility. We are reneging on our responsibilities by refusing to search these aeroplanes.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter If, in the context of aeroplanes landing at Shannon Airport during the course of this year, the Deputy can provide additional information which indicates that the arrangements and agreements relating to such landings are being violated or that armaments are being carried when they should not be, I will have the matter examined. I am open to correction, but he seems to be operating on the assumption that the arrangements in place are being violated. I cannot act on that assumption, but the Deputy is welcome to furnish me evidence of the allegations. He has referenced Somalia where there is a UN training mission in which the Defence Forces are participating. It is a difficult conflict zone and I do not know from where the reference to Somalia comes. The Deputy mentioned a number of other troubled regions in the world, but I have no information that indicates bombs or other munitions are being landed at Shannon Airport at all or regularly, as he seemed to suggest. However, he can provide the details.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace We know no military aircraft has been checked, despite the fact that the Government jet, when used by the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, was searched at Dulles Airport in Washington a while back. The Minister has indicated that I should come up with the evidence to prove ammunition is passing through Shannon Airport that should not be. I am not the Minister for Defence. If the Minister wants to find out what is on the aeroplanes, all he has to do is organise a search. It is not an unreasonable request. It is little wonder the likes of Margaretta D'Arcy have to go on the runway to highlight the fact that aeroplanes are not being searched by the Government. The Minister is driving people onto the runway by refusing to organise searches.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have not driven anybody onto a runway. It would be very unwise to drive people to such a place.

Defence Forces Operations

 132. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide a progress report on the Defence Forces participation in the EU-led training mission in Somalia; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13799/14]

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Recently a very small but skilled and capable cadre of Defence Forces personnel has been involved in an EU-led training mission in Somalia. In this question I seek to ascertain from the Minister if he has evaluated the contribution of this small group of Irish personnel and the overall success of the mission.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have an extraordinarily long reply and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle will have to stop me halfway through it. However, I will do my best.

EUTM Somalia which was launched on 7 April 2010 has been deployed to provide military training for members of the Somali national armed forces so as to increase their capability to ensure the sovereignty and security of the Somali state. The mission is part of the European Union’s long-term strategy for the Horn of Africa. EUTM Somalia has contributed to the training of approximately 3,600 Somali soldiers to date. On 22 January 2013 the European Council adopted a decision extending the mandate of EUTM Somalia until March 2015. The new EUTM Somalia mandate involves a significant change of focus of the mission, including moving all elements of the mission from Uganda to Somalia. In December 2013 all training concluded in Uganda. The mission achieved a major milestone on 1 February 2014 when the mission commander, Brigadier General Gerald Aherne, declared full operating capability in Mogadishu. The current mandate will continue until 31 March 2015. Implementation of the mandate in Somalia is facing several challenges, including security in Mogadishu, where the position remains unstable.

Following Government approval, five Defence Forces personnel were deployed in April 2010 to the EU-led training mission, EUTM Somalia, providing a training team and certain staff posts.

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