Defence Questions – Defence Forces in the Golan Heights

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Ref No: 27139/16 Lottery: 1 Proof: 17
QUESTION NO: 45

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces who will be deployed to the Golan Heights in the coming weeks, following the announcement of 19 September 2016 that a new contingent of troops would be joining the UNDOF mission in the near future; and his views regarding whether this deployment is a good use of Defence Forces capability.
– DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 27 TH SEPTEMBER, 2016.

Ref No: 27098/16 Lottery: 23 Proof: 39

REPLY

I propose to take Questions Nos 26 and 45 together.

A contingent of the Permanent Defence Force has been deployed to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights since 2013. The next Irish contingent, the 54th Irish Infantry Group, comprising 130 personnel, is due to deploy in the coming weeks and will replace personnel of the 52nd Infantry Group. Irish personnel will be based in UNDOF Headquarters in Camp Ziouani. The Irish contingent operates in the role of a Quick Reaction Force, which is on standby to assist with on-going operations within the UNDOF Area of Responsibility. Seven (7) other Defence Forces personnel are also deployed in UNDOF Headquarters.
Since its temporary relocation from a number of positions in September 2014 and pending the time when UNDOF returns fully to the area of separation, UNDOF has continued to maintain credible presence in the Golan and use its best efforts to implement its mandate.

In this context, UNDOF continues to engage with the parties on practical arrangements to allow the Force to continue to maintain the ceasefire, monitor, verify and report on violations of the Disengagement of Forces Agreement and exercise its critical liaison functions with the parties in order to implement its mandate.
The Department of Defence constantly reviews the deployment of Defence Forces personnel overseas and these missions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The continued participation in overseas operations, such as UNDOF, is subject to Government Decision on an annual basis.

The presence of the UNDOF mission remains an important element in ensuring stability on the Golan Heights and in the Middle East region and on 21 June 2016 the Government approved continued participation by the Defence Forces in UNDOF for a further twelve months.

I am satisfied that the work carried out by the Irish personnel serving with UNDOF represents an important contribution to this UN mission.

ENDA KENNY T.D.,
TAOISEACH AND MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

QUESTION NO: 33

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the practical implications for his Department and the Defence Forces of the accelerated practical co-operation between the EU and NATO agreed to in a joint communiqué from EU leaders in July 2016 following an EU leaders’ summit; and the discussions he has had regarding the role his Department will play in ensuring that such practical co-operation will not compromise Ireland’s neutrality..
DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

Ref No: 27097/16

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 27TH SEPTEMBER, 2016.

REPLY
The Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission together with NATO’s Secretary General, made a joint Declaration on EU-NATO cooperation on 8 July 2016. The EU and NATO have a long track record of cooperation which has comprised political consultations and practical cooperation on crisis management operations. This includes operations undertaken by both NATO and the European Union under UN mandates or directly in support of deployed UN blue hat operations.

The declaration highlights seven key areas where the EU and NATO can further strengthen cooperation and include, countering hybrid threats; broadening cooperation on maritime security and migration; expanding cooperation on cyber defence; developing coherent, complementary and interoperable defence capabilities; facilitating a stronger defence industry and defence research; stepping up coordination on exercises and supporting countries in building their defence and security capabilities. They represent practical areas of cooperation in support of international peace and security, international crisis management operations and the protection of civilians.

The EU and NATO are currently developing a process for a way forward with the aim of developing a single set of proposals that will be agreed by both the EU and NATO Councils.

The Treaty on European Union recognises the practical importance of EU cooperation with NATO, where 22 EU member States are also members of NATO. Ireland supports such cooperation between the two organisations in line with the EU Treaties. The EU NATO declaration confirms that future cooperation will fully respect the decision making autonomy of both organisations and will not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of any Member States. I am satisfied that this is a strong acknowledgement that Ireland’s policy of neutrality will in no way be affected by enhanced cooperation between these two organisations .

Paul Kehoe, T.D.
Minister of State at Department of Defence

QUESTION NO: 41

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question Number 831 of 16 September 2016, if the Defence Forces were called upon to perform aid to civil power duties for US military aircraft landing at Shannon and en route to or returning from Romania in June 2016; and the total cost to the State of the Defence Forces performing these duties for these aircraft..
DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 27TH SEPTEMBER, 2016.

REPLY

The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for the internal security of the State. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power which, in practice, means to assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so.

The Defence Forces were called upon to provide Aid to the Civil Power duties for US Military aircraft landing in Shannon in June 2016.

In accordance with legislative requirements of the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952, all foreign military aircraft wishing to overfly or land in the State require the permission of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

For security and operational reasons, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on specific flights. However, the total cost to the State for the performance of these duties at Shannon Airport by the Defence Forces to date in 2016 is €135,923.73

MINISTER OF STATE AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE (PAUL KEHOE, T.D.)

QUESTION NO: 46

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will remove Lariam from the Defence Forces’ formulary and cease its use as a first line anti-malarial by the Defence Forces at least until such time as he has had time to review the report of the Malaria Chemoprophylaxis Working Group, both in order to safeguard Irish troops and to protect the State against future litigation..
DEPUTY CLARE DALY .

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 27th September, 2016 .

Ref No: 27094/16 Lottery: 24 Proof: 40

REPLY
The health and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces is a high priority for both myself and the Defence Forces.

There are three anti-malarial drugs, in use in the Defence Forces; Lariam(mefloquine); Malarone and Doxycycline. The choice of medication for overseas deployment, including the use of Lariam, is a medical decision made by Medical Officers in the Defence Forces, having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual member of the Defence Forces.

Significant precautions are taken by the Defence Forces Medical Officers in assessing the medical suitability of members of our Defence Forces to take any of the anti-malarial medications. It is the policy of the Defence Forces that personnel are individually screened for fitness for service overseas and medical suitability. I am advised by the Director of the Medical Branch that this has been the policy since the Defence Forces first involvement in overseas service to malarial areas.

Malaria is a serious disease which killed approximately 438,000 people in 2015, with 90% of deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa as reported by the World Health Organisation.  It is a serious threat to any military force operating in the area.
Anti-malarial medications, including Lariam, remain in the formulary of medications prescribed by the Medical Corps for Defence Forces personnel on appropriate overseas missions, to ensure that our military personnel can have effective protection from the very serious risks posed by this highly dangerous disease. It is noteable that no member of the Defence Forces, despite the numbers who have served in malarial areas, have died from Malaria.
There are no plans at this time to withdraw Lariam from the range of anti-malarial medications available to the Defence Forces.  The use of and the information on medications is kept under ongoing review.
A working group is currently reviewing developments arising in relation to the use of malaria chemoprophylaxis.  In its earlier work in 2013, the Group investigated all the various issues surrounding the use of Lariam and obtained advice from leading medical experts. Those experts concurred with the practices followed by the Defence Forces in prescribing Lariam.
The Group is examining developments in the context of the Defence Forces use of malaria chemoprophylaxis with particular focus on updated patient safety information, changes to Summary Product Characteristics, changes in product licensing/authorisation, identification of any new anti-malarial medications on the market and national and international expert advices on the use of malaria chemoprophylaxis and its usage in other Armed Forces. The Group is continuing to engage with international experts with a view to concluding its report shortly.
As I already indicated, the health and welfare of the Defence Forces is a priority for myself and the Defence Forces and this will continue to inform the approach to the issue of Lariam.
Paul Kehoe, T.D.
Minister of State at Department of Defence

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