Written answers

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Department of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Conflicts

9:00 pm

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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Question 103: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the decision to send Irish troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13101/06]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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On 23 March 2006, the General Affairs and External Relations Council approved the crisis management concept for an EU military crisis management mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC. The Council's decision follows a request from the United Nations that an EU force be deployed to support MONUC, the UN mission in the DRC, during the period of elections in that country.

While detailed planning for the mission is ongoing, it is likely that the total number of personnel taking part will be in the region of 1,500. Germany will provide the operational headquarters for the mission, based in Potsdam, with France providing the force headquarters in Kinshasa. Together, Germany and France will provide approximately two thirds of the force.

Ireland has consistently supported a positive response from the EU to the UN as part of our overall commitment to closer EU-UN co-operation in the area of conflict resolution in Africa. As my colleague, the Minister for Defence, has already told the House, Ireland has already written to the chairman of the EU military staff confirming our willingness to offer up to ten headquarters personnel for the mission subject to our national decision making procedures. The United Nations Security Council is likely to adopt a resolution authorising the mission within the next few weeks, after which a final decision will be taken by the Government on the exact composition of Ireland's contribution. Our proposed contribution is in line with that of other contributing member states and should be looked at in the context of our existing major commitments to peacekeeping operations in Africa and in the Balkans.

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