Dáil Questions – Defence – Arms trade with Israel, Lariam, Shannon

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Dáil Issues, Defence, Oral Questions

Minister Coveney ducks and dives on issues such as our failure to end the arms trade with Israel. The fact that he seems to be hellbent on extending our search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean to a deeper military involvement… The continued presence of Army personnel to protect US war crafts at Shannon and the failure of the Minister to address serious concerns over the continued prescribing of Lariam. 

QUESTION NO: 10

To ask the Minister for Defence his views regarding the number of defence attaches located here; the countries which have defence attaches located here; and the amount of contact between the Irish Defence Forces and each of these attaches.

Deputy Clare Daly

FOR ORAL ANSW ER ON THURSDAY, 25TH JUNE, 2015

REPLY

There are thirty-eight (38) Defence Attachés accredited to Ireland. There are two (2) Defence Attachés located in Ireland, one from the Russian Federation and one from the United States of America. The remaining thirty-six (36) are located in the United Kingdom.

There is ongoing contact between the Defence Forces and the Defence Attachés in relation to a range of issues including military events, functions, visits and training courses. Defence Forces’ contact with the Defence Attachés depends on the topics of interest and therefore varies.

In addition, the Defence Forces conduct collective briefings to the Defence Attachés. This is an efficient use of resources and ensures that the Defence Forces deliver a consistent message. In recent years, briefing covered topics such as the White Paper on Defence, Overseas Operations and the work of the Department in relation to International Security and Defence Policy.

Simon Coveney, T.D.
Minister for Defence

QUESTION NO: 14

To ask the Minister for Defence if Defence Forces personnel were party to any activity, anywhere in Libyan territory; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Deputy Clare Daly

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON THURSDAY, 25TH JUNE, 2015

REPLY

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the European Union military operation, EUNAVFOR MED, which following the formal Meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 22 June, a Council Decision to launch the mission was adopted. The mission is one element of a comprehensive approach to addressing the migration crisis in the South Central Mediterranean.

The Mission will be implemented in sequential phases and the first phase of the operation, to support the detection and monitoring of migration networks through information gathering and patrolling in accordance with international law, will commence shortly. To move beyond the first phase the Council will assess whether the conditions for transition have been met, taking into account any applicable UN Security Council Resolution and the consent of the coastal States concerned. The second phase involves the targeting, seizure and possible destruction of the vessels and assets of human traffickers. The third phase is an operational/disruption phase.

Consideration of participation by the Irish Defence Forces in EU NAVFOR Med will only occur if there is a UN Security Council Resolution and the applicable National statutory requirements are met. I understand that discussions on a draft Security Council Resolution are ongoing.

In the meantime I can assure the Deputy that no members of the Defence Forces have conducted operations in Libyan territory. This includes Libyan Territorial Waters.

QUESTION NO: 20

To ask the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 132 of 9 June 2015, in view of the fact that the case has been going on for over 40 years and the fact that the relevant clause under which the person was retired from the army has been removed since 1985, the reason he has to further delay matters by consulting with the Attorney General before initiating a review of the matter.

– DEPUTY CLARE DALY .

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON THURSDAY, 25TH JUNE, 2015.

Ref No: 25093/15 Lottery: 15 Proof: 15

REPLY

The individual that the Deputy is referring to was retired by the President, on the advice of the

Government, with effect from a date in June, 1969. His retirement was effected pursuant to Section 47(2) of the Defence Act, 1954 and Paragraph 18(1)(f) of Defence Force Regulations A.15, which provide that an officer may be retired “in the interests of the service”.

This case was the subject of a resolution adopted by Seanad Éireann on 10 March 2010. The Seanad resolution included a provision that the Government would ask the Judge Advocate General to select a nominee to carry out a review of the documentation on file to determine “whether on the basis of the documentation and information available to the Defence Forces at the time, the decision to compulsorily retire” the officer “was a reasonable one.”.

As I have recently advised the Deputy, the Government remains willing to carry out this review. I am still considering the most recent advice on the matter that I received from the Office of the Attorney General. I must stress that it is in no way my intention to delay the matter any longer than is necessary. I must however reiterate that this is a serious matter that requires my full consideration. I would like again to advise the Deputy that I would hope to be in a position to conclude my consideration on the matter shortly.

SIMON COVENEY, T.D.,
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

PQ25093/15

QUESTION NO: 22

To ask the Minister for Defence in view of his statements to Dáil Éireann on 9 June 2015 regarding the continued use of Lariam by the Defence Forces, if he has initiated medical advice on the matter; the medical experts he has consulted with; his plans to make available their conclusions; and if there is a timescale on their deliberations..
– DEPUTY CLARE DALY .

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 25th June, 2015.

Ref No: 25090/15 Lottery: 22 Proof: 22

REPLY

As the Deputy will be aware, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), formerly the Irish Medicines Board is the statutory authority with responsibility for quality, safety and efficacy of medicines in Ireland. The Defence Forces policy, in relation to the use of anti-malaria medication, including Lariam, is in line with current HPRA approved summary of product characteristics (SmPC).

The health, welfare and safety of Defence Force personnel is a priority of the military authorities and of mine. Malaria is a very serious disease. It kills approximately 1 million people per year in sub-Saharan Africa alone. It is a grave threat to any military force operating in that area. The military authorities take considerable care in prescribing the best medication taking all circumstances into account. In the decade of deployment to sub-Saharan Africa by the Defence Forces, not a single member of the Defence Forces has died from malaria. The anti-malaria regime in place in the Defence Forces, including the use of Lariam, is working.

Former Ministers for Defence have had the various allegations surrounding the use of Lariam investigated thoroughly and obtained the advice of leading medical experts, who concur with the prescribing practices followed by the Defence Forces.

The choice of medication 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. Th at position has not changed and I have no plans at present to further investigate the use of Lariam in the Defence Forces.

Anti-malarial medications, including Lariam is licensed by the HPRA and must remain in the formulary of medications prescribed by the Medical Corps for Defence Forces personnel on appropriate overseas missions, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, to ensure that our military personnel can have effective protection from the very serious risks posed by this highly dangerous disease.

Simon Coveney, T.D.,
Minister for Defence

QUESTION NO: 6

To ask the Minister for Defence the steps he has taken to ensure that the Irish Defence Forces cease to engage in any arms trade with Israel.

DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON THURSDAY, 25th JUNE, 2015.

REPLY

I have previously outlined to the House the position with regard to the procurement of defensive equipment by the Department of Defence. I have also explained the scale and type of such equipment that the Department has acquired from Israeli companies in recent years and the purpose of such acquisitions which is to afford the greatest possible force protection and operational effectiveness to Irish Defence Forces personnel.

The principle of competitive tendering for Government contracts has to be used by the Department of Defence for the acquisition of defensive equipment for the Defence Forces under EU law. Central to those procedures is the requirement to allow fair competition between suppliers through the submission of tenders following advertising of the tender competition usually on the e-tenders site in line with the EU Directive on the procurement of Defence and Security equipment.

The matter of barring Israeli companies from entering tender competitions for the provision of military goods would be akin to Ireland unilaterally placing an embargo on such goods from Israel and this raises, inter alia, serious implications for Irish foreign policy which are outside my remit as Minister for Defence. As the Deputy is aware, trade policy and market access are largely EU competencies and any restriction or ban on imports from any particular country would have to be concerted at EU level. The manner in which the Department of Defence procures both goods and services remains constant with international best practice and is in line with EU and UN decisions on trade embargoes.
SIMON COVENEY, T.D.
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

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