Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Department of Defence
41. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the issue of foreign soldiers in US military fatigues being seen regularly inside and outside Shannon Airport; if they have been issued individually or collectively with written consent to access the countryside in County Clare or within Shannon Airport wearing the military uniform of a foreign army contrary to section 317 of the Defence Act 1954; and the action he will take to prevent future violation of the provisions of the Act. [29269/18]
42. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the steps he has taken to prevent members of foreign armed forces entering or landing here while wearing a foreign military uniform as per section 317(1) of the Defence Act 1954. [29270/18]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 42 together.
The wearing of military uniforms in the State is governed by Section 317 of the Defence Act 1954 which prohibits the wearing of a foreign military uniform without ministerial permission.
Requests for persons to enter the State wearing any foreign uniform are dealt with by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Such requests are forwarded to my Department for observations and information purposes.
Foreign military personnel enter the State from time to time in order to attend official meetings, seminars, courses and various diplomatic and other social functions. This is, in general, standard international military custom and practice. Visits of foreign Naval vessels are also arranged through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Such arrangements generally include the wearing of uniforms ashore as part of the routine protocol arrangements.
In the context of the requirements of Section 317 of the Defence Act, 1954, the US authorities were given express permission in 2003 by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs for their military personnel to wear uniforms in the transit areas of Irish airports, including Shannon Airport. The observance of the conditions relating to this permission is a matter which is dealt with through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
43. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of consents in writing he and his predecessors issued as per section 317(1) of the Defence Act 1954 to foreign soldiers entering or landing here in each year since 2003. [29272/18]
The wearing of foreign military uniforms in the State is governed by Section 317 of the Defence Act 1954. The provisions of this section prohibit the wearing of a foreign military uniform without ministerial permission.
My Department routinely receives such requests from various States, which are shared with other Government Departments, including the Department of Defence and the Department of Justice and Equality, for their observations and information purposes. The reasons for such requests vary from attendance at official meetings, courses and seminars, to diplomatic functions.
In the context of the requirements of Section 317 of the Defence Act 1954, express permission was granted by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs in January 2003 to the US authorities for their military personnel to wear their uniforms in the transit area of Irish airports. Where it is necessary for such personnel to move beyond these areas, a specific request must be sought.
In the following table I have provided the number of uniform requests granted by my Department from 2013 to 29 June 2018, based on the information currently to hand. It was not possible in the time available to provide the required detail from 2003.
|Year||Number of consents granted|
|2018 up to 29 June||41|