Defence Minister O'Dea secures Cabinet approval to send troops to Congo
May 9th 2006
The Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea TD has today (Tuesday, May 9th 2006) received Government approval for the deployment of up to 10 members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the EU military operation supporting the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).
MONUC was established in February 2000 by Resolution 1291 of the United Nations Security Council. Headquarters are in Kinshasa and the mission consists of about 16,000 troops. Ireland contributes three military observers to the mission.
Elections are due to take place in DRC under UN supervision in July 2006. The main purpose of the proposed EU mission, codenamed “Eufor RD Congo”, is to be available to support MONUC during the upcoming elections, scheduled for July 2006, for a four month period. The EU will not be substituting for MONUC, but rather, providing a supporting role in the event of unrest during the election period. Ireland currently contributes 3 DF personnel to MONUC. In December 2005, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) invited the EU to consider the possibility of providing “a suitably earmarked force reserve that could enhance MONUC’s quick reaction capabilities during and immediately after the electoral process.”
“Ireland from the outset has been positively disposed towards the proposed mission and has supported a positive response from the EU to the UN. Ireland’s proposed contribution of up to 10 personnel is well in line with that of other contributing member States and has to be looked at in the context of our existing major commitments to peacekeeping operations in Africa and in the Balkans,” stated Minister O’Dea.
“Two officers have already been assigned to the Operational Headquarters for the mission in Potsdam, Germany for pre-deployment training and familiarization. We are currently waiting for details from the EU Military Staff regarding the deployment of the remaining personnel,” added Minister O’Dea.
“As the number of Defence Forces personnel being deployed to this mission does not exceed 12, Dáil approval is not required under the terms of the Defence Acts. I do however, intend to make a statement in Dáil Éireann outlining the proposed deployment as a matter of courtesy to the House and opposition parties,” stated Minister O’Dea.
“Today’s Cabinet approval once again demonstrates Ireland's active support for peacekeeping in Africa and in this case the transition to democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Government has already provided €500,000 in support for the electoral process in the DRC. In addition, €4 million has been provided to date in 2006 to help alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in the country, where an estimated 38,000 people are still dying every month from conflict-related causes and over 1.6 million people are displaced," concluded Minister O'Dea.
Press Advisor to the Minister
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