Dáil Éireann - Volume 571 - 01 October, 2003

Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

  230. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland will provide peace keeping troops for the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21404/03]

  Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Ireland currently provides two military observers to the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUC. In June, Operation Artemis deployed to the eastern town of Bunia to stabilise the situation there as at the time it was spiralling downwards with serious consequences for the civilian population. This EU led operation, the first to undertake implementation of Petersburg tasks outside Europe, was deployed at the request of the United Nations Secretary General and on foot of UN Security Council Resolution 1484. In September, the EU led emergency multinational force, Operation Artemis, handed over control of Bunia to a strengthened United Nations mission in the DRC (MONUC) having fulfilled its mandate of restoring stability to the town. Ireland contributed five army officers to Operation Artemis and a proportionate share of the costs.

  Ireland is a strong supporter, both nationally and in concert with our EU partners, of the political process in the DRC. As a member of the Security Council in 2001-02, Ireland worked actively towards the establishment of MONUC, and sought to ensure that it was provided with an adequate mandate and mission strength to tackle its substantial and varied tasks. The Government welcome the recent strengthening of MONUC's mandate to make it better able to carry out its tasks.

  As regards the level of Ireland's participation in the mission, this will remain under review. As with any peacekeeping mission, the Government would assess an invitation to participate in the light of a range of political and technical factors. Any such assessment would need to take into account the numbers of permanent Defence Force personnel available for overseas service at that time. In this context, the Deputy will be aware that the Government – following a request from the office of UN Secretary General Annan – has decided to seek Dáil approval for participation by a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force in the United Nations mission in Liberia.