Dáil Éireann - Volume 433 - 30 June, 1993

Private Members' Business. - Defence (Amendment) Bill, 1993: Committee and Remaining Stages.


An Ceann Comhairle: Amendment No. 1 in the name of Deputy De Rossa. Amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 from a composite proposal. Therefore, I suggest that we discuss amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together. Is that satisfactory? Agreed.

Proinsias De Rossa: I move amendment No. 1:

In page 2, line 13, to delete “the Security Council or”.

This amendment to the definition section seeks to delete the term “Security Council” from the Bill. My reason for tabling this amendment is the fact that the United Nations has remained virtually unreformed in its structures since its establishment almost 50 years ago. As I pointed out last evening, the Security Council has been extremely selective in the manner in which it deals with questions of international threats to peace, a matter of great concern to most people who viewed the post-cold war scenario as one in which we might expect a new confidence to develop worldwide, when the [681] United Nations would at last confirm its role.

The expectation was, at the end of the Cold War, that the United Nations would have space to act in a fair and unbiased way. People felt that we would move from a bi-polar system, as it was known — the challenge between the east and west — to a uni-polar system and that the antagonism would be replaced by a willingness on all sides to co-operate in relieving international tensions but that is not the way it has worked out. It is obvious that various self-interests have presented themselves in different guises since the end of the Cold War in areas of tension. An example is the manner in which the United States received a mandate from the United Nations to launch its attacks on Iraq in early 1991. This sent a shudder down the spines of those who had thought we were about to enter a new era.

The least we should do, if we are to pass this Bill which will change the way in which Ireland will approach its international commitments and relationships, is ensure, where we embark on missions which may involve peace enforcement, that such a mission has received a broad mandate from the United Nations General Assembly. I do not think we can say, given its present make-up, that the Security Council will not allow itself to be swung behind missions this country would not be happy with. We have experienced this in relation to the Gulf War when there was a strong feeling that we should be critical of what was being done in the Middle East but the Government swung in behind the American effort by allowing warplanes to land and refuel here. This was done for reasons which had little to do with the Middle East and much to do with our relationship with the United States. It was felt that we should not be out of step with the most powerful states in the world. In promoting this Bill the Government should ensure, until such time as the Security Council is reformed and there is a balance as between the various sections of the world, particularly among the permanent members, that we only become [682] involved in missions which have received a mandate from the United Nations General Assembly.

There are 15 members on the Security Council, five of whom are permanent members and have a veto. Since the United Nations was formed they have exercised this veto on so many occasions that the United Nations was essentially sidelined in regard to most of the crises which occurred between 1945 and 1989-90. It is extraordinary, even at this point, that no moves have been made to reform the system. I made the point that the permanent members of the Security Council do not include any African representative. If one considers Russia to be a European country, virtually all the members are European. We should seek to have this changed. There are now in excess of 180 members in the United Nations. Therefore, in this day and age it is an anachronism that five of the old colonial powers are permanent members of the Security Council and have a veto which should not be allowed to continue. I would strongly argue that we should not change our role internationally from one of peacekeeping to peace enforcement until such time as the United Nations has been reformed and democratised because there is little democracy when it comes to the decisions of the Security Council.

In an article in the Irish Law Times in March of this year, Ms Liz Heffernan, a lecturer in law at TCD, pointed out that signs of undemocratic practices have emerged, not least the selective nature of Security Council action and the use of the Council as a vehicle for the promotion of the agendas of the permanent members. That was not a statement by Deputy De Rossa of Democratic Left but rather by a lecturer in law at TCD whom I do not know.

There are many examples one could give to highlight the selective nature of Security Council action. As I said on a number of occasions in this House, to use the Gulf War as an example, within a matter of a few months the United Nations was embroiled in the massive destruction of Iraq. I have the same [683] antipathy towards Saddam Hussein as every Member but I argued at the time that it would have been more appropriate to proceed by way of imposing sanctions. I argued also that in the assault on Iraq many hundreds, if not thousands of civilians would be killed. We still do not know how many civilian casualties there were in that war. It would have been more humane to impose sanctions which would have been in line with the character of the United Nations which sees military action as a last resort. The sanctions were not given enough time to work effectively on that occasion because the United States, which received approval for this action from the United Nations Security Council, wanted to establish its hegemony over the important resource of oil which it regards as its bailiwick in that part of the world.

We should compare this action with the issue that was discussed today at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, the invasion of East Timor by the Indonesians in 1975 in clear breach of the United Nations charter. This was a clear case involving the annexation of a small island with a small population which was unable to resist its larger neighbour's pursuit of offshore resources. That invasion resulted in the genocide of in excess of 200,000 people in East Timor.

In spite of the many resolutions passed by the United Nations demanding that the people of East Timor be granted the right to self-determination and that their human rights be protected, Indonesia continues to occupy East Timor and the United Nations has not lifted a finger to impose sanctions against Indonesia or to take action against that invasion. Plenty of resolutions have been passed, plenty of statements have been made by the European Community, plenty of tears have been shed and plenty of hands have been wrung about that invasion. Yet there has been no invasion of Indonesia or a missile assault on that country. People will obviously appreciate that I am not advocating such an approach. I am simply drawing a comparison [684] between the selective way in which these decisions are made by the Security Council.

It can be argued that we were living in the Cold War era in 1975. That is true. However, this is 1993 and the Cold War, so we have been told, ended in 1989. Therefore, one would have expected some more upfront action to have been taken by the United Nations on this issue. A statement was made by the European Council in December 1991 that the cooperative relations between the European Community and Indonesia would be reviewed because of the infringement of human rights in East Timor. We were told today by the Department of Foreign Affairs that that review has not been carried out two years later. There has been no review of the economic, trade and diplomatic relations between the European Community and Indonesia despite the solemn declaration made by the European Council in December 1991, 18 months ago. My basic argument is that the Security Council addresses issue in a very selective way and that the General Assembly could give a surer guarantee that any missions or actions undertaken by the United Nations would have the broad mandate of the United Nations. That is the bottom line issue in regard to this Bill.

In case Deputies are getting bored listening to me, I wish to remind the House that we are discussing together amendments Nos. 1 to 3 in my name. Amendment No. 2 seeks to insert the words “for the preservation or restoration of peace” after the words “United Nations” in section 1. The Bill as it stands makes no reference whatsoever to the purposes for which a United Nations force can be used. There is no reference to the types of operations in which we will seek to become involved. It opens the door completely. The Defence Act states specifically that the Irish Defence Forces will be involved only in police actions — in other words, peacekeeping actions. We are proposing to change our law to permit the Irish Government to agree to Irish Defence Forces, and presumably other forces, [685] becoming involved in missions on behalf of the United Nations or together with the United Nations, but we have not been given any indication of how far we will go in those missions.

I am sure the Minister will argue that all the missions in which our Defence Forces become involved must come before this House for approval. That is true. However, missions tend to have a long life and can change in character. I suggest that missions which involve peace enforcement can change in character extremely quickly. Peacekeeping missions can also change, but it is less likely that they will change in character. There is every possibility that a peace enforcement mandate may change very quickly to one where the United Nations, in order to gain the upper hand in circumstances which they regard as extremely difficult, will engage in a Gulf War type assault. We must ensure through this Bill that Ireland's role will not extend to that type of operation. I am arguing that we should include in the Bill a reference that the missions in which our Defence Forces will engage will be for the preservation or restoration of peace.

I would argue that that is all we are entitled to do under our Constitution. I wish to draw the attention of the House to Article 29 of the Constitution. Article 29.1 states:

Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality.

I think we would all agree with that statement. Article 29.2 states:

Ireland affirms its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination.

Article 29.3 states:

Ireland accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States.

I suggest that Article 29.2 makes it [686] obligatory on us to ensure that Irish troops are involved only in operations for the preservation or restoration of peace. The provisions of the Bill in this regard are much too wide and leave too much scope to a future administration, which may make a policy decision to take up a different position. Everyone knows how difficult it is for citizens of this State to challenge any law passed by this House. The costs of taking a case to the courts of the land are extremely high and it is only people who are extremely wealthy, or perhaps extremely poor, who can afford to take a case to our courts. We should insert in the Bill the words: “for the preservation or restoration of peace”.

Amendment No. 3 seeks to insert the words “but excludes a force or body approved by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations” after the words “United Nations” in section 1, On a first reading, that amendment may seem odd. I wish to explain the purpose of it. Section 1 states that the term “the Act of 1960” means the Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1960, and the term “International United Nations Force” means an international force or body established by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations. It has been argued by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that that refers to a body established under the direct control, administration and command of the United Nations. Of course, that type of operation has been used less frequently in recent times than the type of operation where regional bodies or individual states are essentially licensed to do certain things on behalf of the United Nations. This was true in relation to, for example, the Iraq War and the decision by the United States to go into Somalia to, as it said, restore hope.

Under a mandate approved by the United Nations, the United States subsequently went back in with bombers and gunships to seek to put manners on the warlord, General Aideed. It is notable that in spite of the “precision strikes and surgical strikes” General Aideed was not [687] to be found. He is still alive and organising his faction in Somalia.

President Clinton went on television to outline the objectives of the operation; to establish peace; to protect human rights and to establish market economics, and to proclaim the success of his mission. It is quite odd that we permit a situation where individual countries can act under the guise of the United Nations' mandate while essentially pursuing domestic policy internationally. It struck me as odd that the Minister, in response to questions about the US presence in Somalia, claimed that it was there under the same mandate as UNOSOM II. It is my understanding that the two mandates are different. The Minister was asked the following question if the United States decided to engage in a particular operation, would Irish troops in the area acting as transport unit be involved? I am sure the Minister will respond by saying that Irish troops are not in that area, but while they are not in that area at present, perhaps they may be there next week or the week after.

I do not object to our troops working alongside US troops but I object to the fact that there are two distinct mandates in operation. One mandate is under the direct command structure of the United Nations and the other is under the direct command control of the United States. This raises the contradictions that currently exist in the United Nations and the way it proceeds with its business.

I have the greatest respect for the United Nations and it has survived through very difficult times. In the first 40 years of its existence it was, to a large extent, misused and abused, nonetheless it has done important work in international aid and development and in developing conventions on human rights and, by and large, operating within the constraints imposed on them by the major powers which were at loggerheads at that time and who engaged in wars at arm's length in many parts of the world. As a very small country our very existence depends on ensuring that there is an international order based on law and [688] compliance with law and it is important that we ensure the United Nations is reformed. We need to ensure also that when we are engaged in UN operations we are engaged solely in a peacekeeping role. There is nothing fundamentally cowardly or wrong with Ireland maintaining its role as a peacekeeper. We played an honourable role in the past and we continue to play it to this day. I hope that even with the passing of this Bill that the vast majority of the missions we will be engaged in will be peacekeeping missions. I fear the trend is otherwise.

There seems to be a view abroad that to sort out the natives you send in warships. It is believed that they must be forced to come around the table as they do not know how democracy works and the way to do that is to eliminate the hard-nosed individuals, whether they be criminals, recalcitrant politicians of one kind or another. That is a detectable trend at present.

Essentially, the US wanted to go into Bosnia-Hercegovina in the same “gung ho” style as if entered Iraq and engage in what it defined as surgical strikes. I think it is time that the media in this country as well as everywhere else refused to use blatantly distorted language and terminology to describe missiles and bombs. They have no surgical precision whatsoever and there have been plenty of studies since the Gulf War to show that a very small percentage of the so-called “precision bombs”, actually hit the intended targets in Iraq. That point needs to be addressed and should not be ignored by this country. Language has a very important role to play in the media, particularly when sound bites are the order of the day. They have a very important role in either winning support for or engendering opposition to the direction of foreign policy.

We have sufficient examples of this in Northern Ireland where language is used by one side in a particular way and by the other in a different way. When Provisional Sinn Féin talk about a shoot-to-kill policy, we all know there is no such thing as a shoot-to-kill policy by either the British or Irish Government but [689] because of the way certain troops reacted to particular incidents it was a good propaganda exercise for the Provisionals to claim a shoot-to-kill policy. That then became common currency and it was an easy hook to hang campaigns on. It is important that this area is addressed. That broadly covers the three amendments I have tabled.

Last night the Minister virtually made no argument whatever for a change in our law in the general way it is being proposed here. He argued that we should send 80 troops to Somalia as a transport unit under UNOSOM II. He stressed the moral argument that it was the right thing to do and we would be turning our backs on the aid organisations which we had a duty to protect, if we did not do so. I would not object to Irish troops protecting the aid agencies but I think we have to draw a distinction between peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Irish troops are known around the world as peacekeepers and although it is argued that they will not be directly involved in combat operations they may be deployed to enforce a particular rule of law in Somalia. Taking active aggressive steps to ensure that that is the case is different from the physical protection of aid workers and the civilian population and the right to defend oneself in any given situation. These are the general points I wish to make in relation to the three amendments I have tabled.

Mr. Barrett: I sincerely hope we will be able to get through all the amendments. In reply to some of the points made by Deputy De Rossa, all of us feel uncomfortable about this whole new departure into peace-enforcement but we have to look at the situation and, on balance, given proper protection and taking proper precautions in relation to the role of the Dáil for the right to review each mission on a regular basis, we can manage to keep an eye on things to the extent that we will not go far beyond the role of peacekeeping. That is possible.

Much has been said about the Gulf War but what must be said also is that Iraq invaded a very small country, [690] Kuwait. For a small country like Ireland it is important that there should be people around who would say “You are not going to do that. We will not tolerate that”. A small country like Ireland could not afford to defend itself against any invasion. We need co-operation from partners within the UN, which is the world organisation, to protect big and small, but particularly the small. The big powers will always be able to look after themselves. If we do not keep the US within the main structures of the UN there is a danger that they will take their own action and that is not in anybody's interest. As I said last night, Ireland, as a small country, has a very important role to play in the UN to make certain that no one power or bloc controls the decision-making process. As a small country we can play a major role in insisting that that does not happen.

I do not deny that the structures of the UN need reviewing. It is time we had a look at those structures and whether an African country is a permanent member of the Security Council or a small country will always be a member. There are many good things to be said about that. Equally, one has to be practical and realistic and make certain that the big powers are also tied in so that they will not take their own action. As a small country we can have a major influence in the decision-making process and we should never lose sight of that. For that reason I will not be supporting these amendments as I think it would be unwise to do so. One is better off in there arguing the point and trying to persuade people to one's way of thinking rather than be in a position where one could force others to take decisions without consulting the wider group. On balance, it is always better to be in there and have an influence on the decisions instead of sitting outside the door sulking.

I accept that peace enforcement is a new departure for this country. There is a danger that it may go too far. I do not condone the action of the US in terms of the retaliatory action taken in firing Tomahawk missiles on Baghdad last Saturday, but I would not allow a situation [691] to develop where people would forget that a small country like Kuwait was invaded. There will be times when people will be unreasonable and persuasion will not work. We have heard and read about the terrible atrocities that took place in Kuwait during its invasion and occupation by Iraq. We should not forget that women and children were mistreated, that women were raped and killed. It is not all wrong on one side but at the same time if something goes wrong on the side we are supporting we should not be afraid to say we do not agree with it and we should play an active role in insisting it does not continue. For those reasons I will not be supporting the amendments.

Mr. Lenihan: I said last night — and I will say it again — that this is the minimum response on the part of Ireland to this situation. The UN operation force in Somalia will be in the order of 28,000 strong so far as troops are concerned. We are contributing 80 members of the Defence Forces to a transport contingent. The whole emphasis in the future so far as the United Nations is concerned, with the ending of the Cold War and the removal of the ideological divide down the middle of the Security Council, will be on enforcing the peace. Up to now our troops have gone out on purely police missions and have been deemed to be such, acting in operations of a police character under the 1960 Act. Under the provisions of this Bill they are going as members of the Defence Forces acting in a military capacity in a transport contingent dealing in a logistical way with military operations to enforce the peace.

This is part not of a new innovation but is part of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter to which we adhered from the very day we agreed to join the United Nations. Chapter VII could not be implemented until now because of the divide down the middle in the Security Council where they were unable to agree on the necessary measures required to enforce collective security. The concept of collective security is one to which we have always adhered. We adhered to it [692] in the old days of the League of Nations when Eamon de Valera voiced that opinion on numerous occasions in the thirties. We have adhered under the Helsinki agreement to collective security under the CSCE, east and west in Europe.

Now we are asked for the first time to make effective a provision that has existed since the formation of the United Nations but defunct because of the divisions in the Security Council. We are now asked to contribute in this minor capacity by providing 80 members to a transport contingent. When one looks at it in that context one sees the reality of the matter. It is further safeguarded by the provision that every decision by the Government where over 12 members are involved in such an operation in the future, must come by resolution to this House. That is still the law and is an ample safeguard. Every operation of any consequence has to be scrutinised in the House and the Minister has to answer for the details and the mandate of the particular operation. It is important to remember that all these operations differ. If one goes across the world and looks at all the troubled areas the type of operations required in each case are different and vary to an amazing degree. It is important that that provision stands. The Minister of the day must come into the House and say the troops are needed for a particular operation, explain what is involved and make his case here.

There is some merit in Deputy Barrett's suggestion that we could possibly have a review provision written in a later amendment. Perhaps a procedure of that kind would be useful. The concept of enforcement of collective security is fundamental to the core of what the United Nations is about. If the UN is not to degenerate into a futile talking shop it must have this type of power and bring into operation Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which has been defunct since the forties because of the divisions in the Security Council. I sympathise with Deputy De Rossa's views on the need to reform the composition of the Security Council. The arrangements whereby [693] Britain and France carry the vote on their own on the Security Council is no longer relevant in a modern world. We now have a new global power structure which incorporates China, India, the European Community as one power — including Britain, France, Germany and other members — the United States and Japan. Those countries should be part of a newly composed Security Council, but the Security Council must remain an implementing executive of the United Nations. I can think of no greater recipe for either anarchy or non-decision than a system which would give the entire power in respect of directing operations to the United Nations, as Deputy De Rossa suggests in his amendment. That would mean that 180 nations spread across the globe, with many diverse and differing interests, would be the decision making body in regard to operations enforcing the rule of law. That would be totally ineffective.

The United Nations General Assembly is basically a debating chamber and plays a role in that respect; but it is not a decision making body and by its very nature can never be one. Under the Charter, the Security Council is a decision making body; and Deputy De Rossa is seeking to delete from section 1 the provision whereby the Council is the effective decision-making executive directing the operations of the United Nations. That cannot be done and anyone who gives the matter serious consideration will realise that. Hopefully, with the assistance of Deputy De Rossa and others on the Joint Committee of Foreign Affairs, we will be able to examine the structure of the United Nations and suggest reforms in that regard. There is a case for reforming the structure and composition of the Security Council, but we must have an executive head of the United Nations that can make decisions, implement them and ensure they are carried out. The operation proposed by Deputy De Rossa could not be even thought up, not to mention executed, by the United Nations if the General Assembly was acting as the directing force. That would be similar to a Parliament [694] trying to govern a country without a government, for want of a better analogy. In effect, the Security Council is the government as far as the executive actions of the United Nations are concerned.

Deputy De Rossa's proposal to delete from section 1 of the Bill the provision relating to the Security Council is not a sensible one. The section, as it is worded, is excellent. Above all, it provides that we take our rightful place with other countries within the framework of enforcing collective security. For the first time our military personnel, in whatever role they may play, will act as professional soldiers, which they are well capable of doing because of the magnificent professional expertise which exists in the Irish Defence Forces as a whole. Members of our Defence Forces are capable of carrying out whatever professional role is allocated to them. In this case they will have the role of acting as a logistical transport contingent. Certain caveats must be applied to Deputy De Rossa's proposal. It is important that all operations carried out by our Defence Forces are under the command of the United Nations and this is something we should insist on in the future.

I welcome the Bill. It is a minimum response to the crisis in Somalia. The Irish Army and any other unit of our Defence Forces which may be required for such duties will prove themselves to the hilt, as they have done in the past. They will be proud to carry out the role allocated to them by the United Nations.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Andrews): Many points have been put forward in relation to the amendments tabled by Deputy De Rossa. It must be said that the tenor of this discussion is more appropriate to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, of which Deputy Lenihan is chairman. Nevertheless, on the basis that these matters have been raised in the context of the Bill before us, I have no difficulty in discussing them; but if I go outside my remit in regard to Defence matters, Members will have to forgive [695] me, as it will not be my intention to do so. However, I do not wish to avoid answering any questions.

On that basis I will launch into a response to the matters raised by Deputies De Rossa, Barrett and Lenihan. I sympathise with Deputy De Rossa's views, in particular those relating to the Security Council. The point made by Deputies De Rossa and Lenihan in that regard is a fair one. The Security Council may be in need of reformation in that the balance of power, population and input lies between the existing permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom and Russia. A case could be made for the addition of other countries, including an African country or countries. Countries such as Japan and India could be considered also, and I support Deputy Lenihan's view in regard to encapsulating the Twelve European Community countries under the style or title of “The European Community” on the Security Council. Deputy Lenihan made a worth while point in that regard.

Therefore, I am not out of sympathy with Deputy De Rossa's amendments, particularly his first one. In reality the United Nations is made up of 180 nations. While we await the reformation of the Security Council or the United Nations we must follow the rules and regulations of the United Nations as presently constituted. On those grounds alone Deputy De Rossa's amendment cannot be accepted, apart from our wish to have the headquarters of the United Nations taken out of New York. Why should it not be regionalised, with its headquarters based in other continents of the world?

I have made available to the Select Committee on Legislation and Security a booklet entitled An Agenda for Peace by Boutros Boutros Ghali and a great deal of its content would need to be addressed in the context of the formation of the United Nations. The United Nations, like any other body, cannot remain static. It is the successor to the League of Nations, an organisation which died on the vine because of its inability to do the [696] very thing we are now seeking to do under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter of 1945. Of course the United Nations, set up in 1945 just after the Second World War is a long time in being. It may be said, in support of Deputy De Rossa's point, that it does need to move with the times, that it needs to be reformed.

Deputy De Rossa quite properly and fairly addressed the Foreign Affairs Committee before which was the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Last night the Deputy addressed me in my capacity as Minister for Defence and he addressed me again this evening. He will now have a fourth or fifth opportunity of raising the issue with the Minister for Foreign Affairs when he comes into the House to give effect to the resolution required under section 2 of the 1960 Act. I sympathise with the point of view expressed by Deputy De Rossa, but in the present circumstances I cannot accept his first amendment as proposed.

The Deputy also raised the question of East Timor. I have supported an organisation in this city which supports the right of the East Timorese to their independence and I take the view that the Indonesians have a lot to answer for on that account. The East Timorese should be supported as part of our foreign policy and as part of the direction in which our country should be going in the context of our membership of the United Nations. However, this is not proper to me but to another Minister on another occasion and at another time.

In regard to amendment No. 2 again, we in this country are seeking to preserve and restore the peace. That is the reason we are going into Somalia. However, as there is no peace in Somalia we have to recreate peace there. The country must start from the beginning and we are seeking to bring that about by maintaining a presence of a minimum of 80 men, a gesture in the context of 28,000 troops being there. We are going in, we hope to help return Somalia to peace and build the country up by setting up a police force and supporting the ongoing efforts of the aid agencies in recreating the schools, by [697] ensuring that the community is weaned, as it were, off its dependency and is returned to normality in the context of its agronomy — its horticulture and agriculture. Crops will be ready for taking in the next few months. These are the hopeful signs that the United Nations hope to build on.

In supporting the views in a general way I addressed the timescale that the United Nations hope to operate in Somalia. I addressed the issue with Admiral Jonathan Howe, Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali's representative in Somalia. His assessment of the situation, which I am not certain I would agree with, is that the United Nations would aim to leave Somalia within a period of two years and that there would be democratic elections within the next year or two. I am not certain that that will happen either, although I would like to think it will.

I would like to think also that Somalia will be returned to the Somalians so that the Somali people will be the masters of their own destiny sooner rather than later. That is what the United Nations seeks to achieve, whether in a peacekeeping or a peace making role. One has to take the conditions of Somalia as one finds them. Today's terrorist can be tomorrow's leader of a country. There is a strong point of view among the nongovernmental organisations that General Aideed should not be taken into custody but should be brought back into the fold of the democratic process and not described as a war lord. The reality is that in their fight against General Bir, General Aideed and his former Coalition partner, Mr. Ali Mahdi, split and what they did to the country was quite indescribable. It is obscene in its context. They devastated the country and left it in a shambles, left the people starving and dying in their hundreds of thousands. There is a question about whether the country should be handed over to those people. The whole purpose of the United Nations in Somalia is to preserve or restore the peace, bearing in mind that at the moment there is very little peace there except in isolated pockets. Consequently [698] I cannot see the need to accept the Deputy's not unreasonable statement.

The third amendment is to insert, after “the United Nations” the phrase “but excludes a force or body approved by the Security Council of the General Assembly of the United Nations”. I am not certain that I can accept that point of view. The effect of the amendment would be to expressly exclude participation by Ireland in a force approved by the United Nations as distinct from one established by that organisation. Since the Bill now before the House is clearly concerned with United Nations missions only and refers to forces established by the United Nations, my respectful suggestion to the Deputy is that he might withdraw his amendment on the basis that it is not necessary in all the circumstances.

Let me reflect once more in a general way on my views of the not unreasonable thoughts that gave rise to these amendments. The effect of amendment No. 1 would be to restrict Irish participation in United Nations peacekeeping to missions established by the United Nations General Assembly alone. It simply would not be possible to depend on the General Assembly to give us a mandate. As to whether the Security Council should be extended or retained in its present form is a matter for debate on another occasion. At least it is as an executive, with a managing role and is a neater operation in terms of size than the amophorous mass of the General Assembly.

The amendment is unrealistic since all such missions are now established by the Security Council. It would effectively deny the Council's role as set out in Article 24 of the United Nations Charter whereby the Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. If I were to accept this amendment it would mean that the Government would be precluded from responding favourably to requests from the United Nations to participate in peacekeeping or peace enforcement missions established by the United Nations.

The raison d'être of all United Nations [699] missions is in part to preserve or restore peace. The amendment seeks to anticipate United Nations mandates and circumscribe the type of operations in which Ireland could participate. This is contrary to the thrust of the Bill. In the circumstances I cannot agree to it. I understand the philosophy behind the amendment and I have sympathy with it.

In relation to Ireland's participation in the United Nations mission, this will involve a transport unit going to Somalia in a non-military role. The personnel will be provided with small arms protection. Thirty transport vehicles will be sent and the cost of the mission will be $2.7 million. The overall cost of Somalian United Nations missions on a 12-month basis will be $1.555 billion. As Deputy Barrett stated, each mission must be the subject of a resolution of this House. That is a fail-safe opportunity for this democratically elected assembly to address this issue on each occasion a request is made by the United Nations to create a new mission. If people have concern in regard to the ability or otherwise of the Minister for Defence of the day at least they have this protection.

Regarding Deputy De Rossa's suggestion that UNOSOM II and the United States have separate mandates, nothing could be further from the truth. A Turk, named General Bir is the Force Commander. He is supported by Deputy Force Commander, General Thomas Montgomery, of the United States. While there is a large presence of US military personnel there, nevertheless, they come under the control of the United Nations. They all operate under the same rules and regulations, from the smallest to the largest country, and are bound by the same restrictions, obligations and conditions. We would all like to think that the 32 national contingents will be bound by the same conditions under the United Nations.

Deputy De Rossa mentioned the United Nations operation “Restore Hope” which was under UNITAF. The original UNOSOM mandate did not get off the ground and, consequently, [700] UNITAF, that is the United Nations task force was established. That was subsumed by the mandate given under UNOSOM II by the United Nations. To suggest that there is a distinction and that they have different obligations is contrary to the facts. UNOSOM took over from UNITAF on 1 May 1993 and the latter is no longer in operation in Somalia. The United Nations contingent is part of UNOSOM II. The United Nations role will be mainly peacekeeping and the less peace enforcement there is the better, but it may arise. Under the circumstances, as I indicated yesterday, I can give assurances but not guarantees as to what might arise from the peace enforcement aspect of the mandate.

As Deputy De Rossa said, the use of language can be obscene in the context of expressions like “friendly fire” when people turn on their own troops and kill them. They use this type of formula to test the intelligence of people. It is an obscenity. The Deputy's suggestion that my speech yesterday was less than thorough in the context of the United Nations mandate and the use of the 80 man transport unit is contrary to the facts. The Deputy is entitled to his view but I thought I dealt well with the UN mandate and the conditions under which this small group of courageous Irishmen who will serve the cause of peace in that part of the world will operate.

Deputy Barrett suggested we would be uncomfortable with this legislation. We are making history in passing this legislation. This is an historic departure for this country. There are many ways to address this issue on the basis of a principle of review. Deputies may raise this matter on the Adjournment any evening with the permission of the Chair. There will be an opportunity also to address it in the debate on the Estimate, by way of Parliamentary Question and within the Select Committee on Legislation and Security. There will be many opportunities to express concerns in respect of this matter.

Deputy Lenihan, a former Minister for Foreign Affairs and former Minister for Defence, in his contribution spoke about [701] operating Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter for the first time in a post Cold War world. Up to now it could not be used and it was not practical to use it. It is now being used in a collective security context. He referred to the development of the United Nations, the League of Nations and the CSCE. The Deputy suggested that if the General Assembly were to give a direction, as suggested by Deputy De Rossa, there would be confusion. I hope I have responded fully to the points raised. I remind the House that many of the issues raised are matters for a debate on foreign affairs. Deputies will have an opportunity of raising many of the issues again in the next few days with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Proinsias De Rossa: I thank the Minister for his civil response to the points made. On other occasions when I raised contrary points of view the responses were not always civil. Indeed, I accept the genuineness of the Minister's sympathy with the view that the United Nations Security Council is in need of reform. However, sympathy is one thing and action is another, and I am pleased that at least the issue of reform of the United Nations Security Council is now on the agenda of this House. I am not suggesting that it has not been on the agenda of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I am sure it has not been on the agenda of the Department of Defence because, as the Minister said, it does not, strictly speaking, come under that Department. However, in making his case for the reform of this Defence Act the Minister has relied almost totally on the case of sending 80 Irish troops to Somalia and the needs of that country at present.

I must point out that this reform of the Defence Act will be in effect until such time as this House decides to reform it again at some point in the future. While this change is required to implement the decision to send our contingent to Somalia, nevertheless its effect is much wider than the problems in Somalia. I have already expressed my concerns in [702] relation to the operation in Somalia. The Minister has responded to some of those. I am pleased with at least one part of his response — that he believes the United States is tied into the United Nations command structure and therefore cannot operate unilaterally in relation to what it sees must be done in Somalia. I hope the Minister is right in this regard. Obviously, we must wait and see if that is the case.

I wish to make a small point. In reading out the list of the participants in UNISOM II, which I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs to do yesterday at the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Minister conveniently omitted the presence in that list of United States troops. I am not too sure why he did that because he had the list before him.

Mr. Andrews: It was probably an oversight. It is nothing sinister.

Proinsias De Rossa: I can understand the Minister omitting the reference once but in fact they are listed twice. First, at point 29, USA, 2,700 and, second, under subtotal — US quick reaction force, 1,148. I will raise this point with the Minister when the actual motion for Somalia comes before the House. The Minister will forgive me if I am suspicious of this approach to what he has referred to as an historic change in our Defence Act and the role of Irish Defence Forces.

Deputy Barrett stated that he is uncomfortable with this change in the Act. I fully accept that. There is an uncomfortable feel about the fact that we may be making a change in our Defence Act which will involve Irish soldiers in situations which they will not have faced before and which may involve much greater risk. However, I stated last night that I was not arguing against this change on the basis of risk. As other Deputies have said, armies take risks; but my fundamental point is how we perceive politically the role of Irish Defence Forces internationally and whether our role should be as peacekeepers or any role that the United Nations may decide through the Security Council, whether [703] reformed or unreformed. This Bill allows for Irish troops to be involved in virtually any role that the United Nations decides in whatever way it makes that decision. I am arguing fundamentally that at this point in time at least we should retain a role solely as peacekeepers. I will not rehearse the arguments I have made already in relation to that. They have been heard frequently from me.

Mr. Cox: That is a cop out.

Proinsias De Rossa: The Deputy is entitled to that view, but I am just as much entitled to my view.

Mr. Cox: I accept that.

Proinsias De Rossa: The Deputy may well feel it is a cop out, but a cop out from what? Does the Deputy believe that the role of the United States has been a correct one in relation to Iraq either recently or in the past? Was it right in relation to Libya? Were the United Nations right in relation to the Palestinians or East Timor? If the Deputy believes that one approach was right, he cannot believe that the other was right also, where there is clear selectivity with regard to how particular crises are dealt with based on the interests of the major power players on the political stage and how they judge their interests at that particular point in time.

We are a small country and we cannot expect ever to have the same clout as any of the major world powers. However, we can seek to ensure that the role we play is one which does not exacerbate any given situation and does not reach a point where we find ourselves the pawn in some power play, which can very easily happen in a situation such as this. By and large we have managed to avoid that as peacekeepers, and it is an insult to the Irish troops who have been involved in peacekeeping since 1958 to say that that role is a cop out. I fail to understand that kind of thinking. My view is that our whole approach to international relations should be, as our Constitution says, a [704] pacific approach and a pacific resolution of international crises. Under our Constitution the role we should play is that of peacekeepers or helping to restore peace. This is a point which will require a considerable amount of debate.

I take the point the Minister has made in relation to the number of occasions I have had an opportunity to raise the points I am raising. I would tend to think that if I had not been so awkward in insisting on raising the need for this debate at various points, I may not have had so many opportunities. However, that is a personal view.

I intend to finish my remarks in time to allow the other Deputies make their contributions. I would make the point that I am the only Deputy in this House representing the only party that has serious disagreement with the thrust of the Bill. Therefore, I hope the House will allow me to avail of the opportunity I have been given to make the points that must be made on this issue.

Deputy Lenihan stated that the 80 troops which we are sending is a minimum response. I agree with that. Since the troops involved are in a transport unit as distinct from a front line contingent, this is, as he says, a minimum response. In the debate on the actual motion to send troops to Somalia I may well be making a different case specifically in relation to Somalia. I have not yet seen the terms of the Somalian motion but, fundamentally the amendment of the Act and my amendments relate to the generality of our approach to international affairs.

The point has been made in relation to the right to review missions and the Minister has indicated that he believes that is a good idea. I do not know whether the Minister intends to indicate before the debate ends that he will be accepting or proposing an amendment to provide for such a review. I would argue equally there needs to be some trigger mechanism to deal with circumstances where the Government intends to increase the size of a mission. The Bill provides for approval of this House when 12 or more people are being sent abroad on a mission, [705] but no approval is required if fewer than 12 are being sent. Once the House agrees to the sending of 12 or more people — in this case the number is 80 — there is no obligation on the Government to come back to the House to seek approval to increase the number to say, 800. However I am sure that number would be more than the Defence Forces could send, given the already extended nature of their commitments.

Mr. Cox: Amendment No. 4 provides for that.

Proinsias De Rossa: That is an amendment, but I am talking about the Bill.

Mr. Andrews: Technically the Deputy is correct in that there is no need to return to the House to seek permission to add to an existing mission. If that circumstance arises, I, as Minister for Defence, would present a case to the Security Committee or the Dáil. I would not act by way of subterfuge, without bringing the matter into the public domain.

Proinsias De Rossa: I fully accept that from the current Minister for Defence. However, the Minister recognises, perhaps more than most, that security of tenure in any given Ministry is not part and parcel of being a Minister. While the goodwill of the Minister in that regard is taken without question, there is no obligation on future Ministers to do the same. I have been told that is a matter other Deputies wish to pursue under their own amendments, so I will not pursue it further.

I wish to deal with one of two other points and I am conscious of the time——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I would remind Deputies that there is a time limit on this legislation.

Proinsias De Rossa: I appreciate that, but we are dealing with three amendments in my name and this is an important and historic change in the Defence Act. It is important that the issues I am raising are teased out. It is not my fault [706] that time is restricted. I opposed the application of a guillotine, as did other Opposition Deputies.

I wish to respond to the point raised by Deputy Barrett that we are better off in there arguing our point. Of course we are, and there is nothing in the amendments I put forward that would exclude us from making our points. I am not proposing that we withdraw from the United Nations, rather I am arguing that we should seek a much greater role within the United Nations to have our voice heard more effectively. Therefore that matter does not arise under the amendments I am proposing.

On the point raised by Deputy Barrett about the Kuwait atrocities, of course there were atrocities in Kuwait and the United Nations responded to those by very stringent sanctions and within a very short time with military action. I am not going to rehearse the debate, but I would draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that one of the most publicised so-called atrocities — and I am not referring to all atrocities as so-called — was of a woman who when interviewed claimed her child had been battered to death in a hospital by Iraqi troops. Following the war the same women appeared on television stating that no such thing ever happened, that it was a hoax. Those propaganda exercises take place in time of war. We have to be very careful about how we respond and the views we take in terms of justifying actions without having the full facts.

On the point raised by Deputy Lenihan about the Irish Army being professional and well capable of dealing with whatever they are faced with, I have no doubt whatsoever about the professionalism of the Irish Army or the role they play in whatever circumstances they find themselves. I am certain that whatever this House decides they should do, they will gladly do with utmost professionalism and loyalty. Again, that matter is not at issue. I am trying to make a political case in regard to the Irish role and how we use our Irish troops internationally. Whatever the circumstances in which Irish troops find themselves, they are our [707] responsibility in the first instance, not that of the soldiers on the ground or their immediate superior officers. They are placed in those circumstances by a political decision, and that is what my argument is about.

I would take up the point raised by Deputy Lenihan, and indeed by the Minister, about the General Assembly and the fact that it is ludicrous to expect that the United Nations General Assembly would make a decision or would be capable of making a decision. The Bill refers to a decision made by the Security Council or the General Assembly. It provides for the fact that the General Assembly may make decisions in relation to missions in which we would be involved.

Mr. Lenihan: The reality is otherwise.

Proinsias De Rossa: I am not making the case for a total review of the United Nations. If I put forward a ten page amendment outlining the reforms of the United Nations I would like to see, I am sure it would be ruled out of order. I have to deal with this matter in the best may possible in order to generate the debate about the issue. Of course 180 members meeting in a crisis may be able to make only a general decision, but the role of the Security Council as manager of that decision would then come into play. It is a mistake to rule out the possibility that the General Assembly may have a decision-making role——

Mr. Molloy: On a point of information, Sir, may I inquire whether this debate is to conclude at 11 p.m. or 12 midnight?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It is to conclude at 11 p.m.

Mr. Molloy: There are a number of amendments to be dealt with.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair cannot restrict the debate if it is relevant. However, I want to ensure that people are fully aware that time is limited.

[708] Proinsias De Rossa: I have indicated that I too am conscious of that matter.

Mr. Barrett: We have been discussing this matter for one hour and 35 minutes.

Proinsias De Rossa: I appeal to Deputies in the other Opposition parties to show a little tolerance.

Mr. Molloy: Deputy De Rossa's idea of tolerance may be different from that of other Deputies.

Mr. Cox: The question of proportionality arises here.

Proinsias De Rossa: The question of proportionality on Committee Stage hinges on the amendments being taken at any given time. I remind Deputy Barrett of the filibuster his party carried out last week——

Mr. Molloy: If this is a filibuster the Deputy should say so.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputies should deal with the amendments under discussion.

Proinsias De Rossa: ——in order to avoid a Vote on its amendment. Let us have a little tolerance. I am attempting to make a valid case——

Mr. Molloy: The Deputy is making a poor case for tolerance.

Proinsias De Rossa: The Deputy should explain that statement.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I would ask the Deputy to address the amendments.

Proinsias De Rossa: I am doing that. If I move out of order in regard to the amendments perhaps the Chair will let me know and I will move back into order in so far as that is possible. What the Deputies are doing is pushing me to the point at which I will call a Vote, then there will be no time left. I do not intend [709] to do that, but Deputies should show a little patience and tolerance.

Mr. Barrett: We have taken up an hour and 40 minutes on this matter.

Proinsias De Rossa: I am entitled——

Mr. Cox: We are all entitled to contribute.

Proinsias De Rossa: Exactly, and the Deputy should make his argument with the parties opposite who are applying a guillotine to this debate.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Will Deputy De Rossa please refer to the amendments and make his remarks through the Chair.

Proinsias De Rossa: They should direct their anger at the parties responsible for the guillotine and not towards me. I am seeking to make what I consider to be a valid case and they can make their views known.

Mr. Cox: When? Tonight?

Proinsias De Rossa: Perhaps. The Deputy should talk to them about it.

Mr. Cox: Does the Deputy intend to continue to talk to the conclusion of the debate?

Proinsias De Rossa: I may, if the Deputy keeps this up.

Mr. Barrett: We have listened for an hour and 45 minutes.

Proinsias De Rossa: The Deputy had his opportunity.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I must [710] direct the Deputy's attention to the amendments we are discussing.

Proinsias De Rossa: The Chair will appreciate that I am being antagonised by the impatient Deputies on my left.

The Minister addressed my three amendments and argued that amendment No. 1 was more appropriate to a foreign affairs debate. I would have a certain sympathy for that view but for the fact that we are amending the Defence Acts to provide for the involvement of Irish troops. Inevitably the foreign affairs issue has to be addressed when changing our Defence Acts to incorporate a decision made by a future Government. It is impossible to keep the international and political dimensions to this decision out of this debate. I could understand that if the Minister was proposing an interim arrangement to facilitate the sending of troops to Somalia but we are being asked to make a wide-ranging change in the role of our Defence Forces. Inevitably the wider implications of that have to be addressed.

The Minister indicated that he supports the case of the people of East Timor. I knew that and I welcome that support. Indeed, in a debate in the foreign affairs committee this afternoon the committee indicated its support. My point in raising that issue was to highlight the selective way international questions of aggression are dealt with and the different levels of reaction or retaliation. Despite the fact that the invasion of East Timor took place in 1975 neither the UN nor anybody else has applied one sanction against Indonesia. Yet, we have all sorts of other reactions by the UN to other acts of aggression and invasion. The selectivity of the Security Council is one of the reasons I am seeking to have that arrangement deleted from the Bill.

On the second amendment the Minister referred to the preservation and restoration of peace and made the point that there is no peace in Somalia. That is true by and large although there are areas where the level of violence is not so great. Indeed, the Minister pointed out last night that in Baidoa where the Irish [711] troops are going the risk is not as great as it is in Mogadishu. I would draw the Minister's attention again to the fact that this Bill is not solely addressed to Somalia. My point is a general one in relation to the Defence Acts, that Irish troops should be used solely for the preservation and restoration of peace. In promoting the change the Minister should have addressed the wider implications of the change in the Acts rather than relating it solely to Somalia. The Minister made a strong case for sending troops to Somalia but the change in the Bill does not relate solely to Somalia. I simply draw the Minister's attention to that point.

The Minister argued that amendment No. 3 is not necessary. To some extent that amendment is more important than No. 1. The Minister argues that the word “established” in that section clearly implies that Irish troops will be involved only in missions which are directly under the control of the UN as distinct from missions which are approved by the UN and carried out by a member state or a group of member states. The UNITAF mission, for instance, was approved by the UN to be carried out by the US. That mission was established on the offer of the United States. The distinction between “approved” and “established” is important.

The Minister should give some clear definition of what “established” means. I understand that the Minister said it means precisely that the Irish Army will only be involved in missions directly controlled and under the leadership of United Nations forces established by the United Nations and not in missions allocated to a member state or group of member states, for instance the CSCE, the Western European Union or NATO. I will accept the Minister's assurance on that point. I tabled the amendment to get that assurance from the Minister.

The Minister indicated that he cannot accept amendment No. 2 as it would circumscribe the purpose of the Bill. Without doubt, it would, because I am seeking to restrict the role in which Irish Forces [712] will be involved to one of restoration or preservation of peace where as this Bill seeks to provide a general power, unrestricted in any way except by motion passed by the House subsequently in regard to any mission.

If the Minister replies to the points I made I will promise other Deputies that I will not seek to contribute again on my three amendments.

Mr. Andrews: I thought that as far as one could satisfy a Deputy who does not agree with the Minister, I had done so. On the word, “established”, I can assure the Deputy that this does not differ to any great extent from the Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1960, the Long Title of which is as follows:

An Act to authorise, subject to the previous approval of Dáil Éireann in certain circumstances, the despatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force for service outside the State with international forces established by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations for the performance of duties of a police character ...

The additional ingredient in this Bill is to extend the area of service of certain members of the Permanent Defence Force by amending the Defence Act, 1954 in certain respects and provide for other related matters. As far as this Bill is concerned, that is basically extent. In the circumstances I can give the Deputy the assurance, as far as I can, that he seeks.

Proinsias De Rossa: That they are to be established?

Mr. Andrews: Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: How stands amendment No. 1?

Proinsias De Rossa: A Cheann Comhairle, in order to save the time for the other Members of the House, although I am pressing my amendment I will reserve my Vote to the end of the debate.

[713] Question: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand,” put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

An Ceann Comhairle: We now proceed to amendment No. 2 in the name of Deputy De Rossa, which was discussed with amendment No. 1. How stands that amendment?

Proinsias De Rossa: I am pressing the amendment. I move amendment No. 2:

In page 2, line 14, after “United Nations”, to insert “for the preservation or restoration of peace”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

An Ceann Comhairle: We come then to amendment No. 3, in the name of the same Deputy, which has been discussed already with amendment No. 1. Is the Deputy pressing his amendment?

Proinsias De Rossa: Yes. I move amendment No. 3:

In page 2, line 14, after “United Nations”, to insert “but excludes a force or body approved by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations”.

Amendment put and declared lost.


An Ceann Comhairle: Amendment No. 4 in the name of Deputy Clohessy. I observe that amendments Nos. 8 and 9 form an alternative composite proposal to amendment No. 4 and suggest that we discuss amendments Nos. 4, 8 and 9 together by agreement. Is that satisfactory? Agreed.

Mr. Clohessy: I move No. 4:

In page 2, before section 2, to insert the following new section:

“2. —(1) A contingent of the Permanent [714] Defence Force may not be despatched for service outside the State as part of a particular International United Nations Force under section 2 (1) of the Act of 1960, unless the Minister has laid before Dáil Éireann, in advance of any resolution under that subsection, a memorandum in writing showing in detail:

(a) the resolution under which the International United Nations Force has been established,

(b) the proposed size and composition of the force,

(c) the proposed command structure of the force,

(d) the mandate of the force,

(e) the rules of engagement intended for the force,

(f) the expected duration of the service of any contingents despatched for service with the force, and

(g) the proposals for financing the force.

(2) The Authority conferred by a resolution of Dáil Éireann under section 2 (1) of the Act of 1960, shall lapse and cease to have effect on the day that is 6 months after its passing, unless another resolution shall previously have been passed extending that Authority for a further period not exceeding 6 months.

(3) Any resolution extending the authority conferred by a resolution under section 2 (1) of the Act of 1960 may itself be extended in like manner for a further period not exceeding 6 months.

(4) Where the Authority conferred by a resolution of Dáil Éireann under section 2 (1) of the Act of 1960 or of any resolution extending such authority passed under subsections (2) and (3) of this section has expired, the Minister shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure the repatriation as soon as reasonably [715] practicable, of any members of the Permanent Defence Force serving outside the State in pursuance of the expired authority.

(5) Where there has been any significant change in the matters set out in the memorandum required by subsection (1), the Minister shall notify the members of Dáil Éireann in writing of such change by laying an amended memorandum before Dáil Éireann.

(6) Where an amended scheme has been laid before Dáil Éireann under subsection (5) of this section, it shall be lawful for Dáil Éireann within 21 sitting days by resolution to rescind any resolution made under section 2 (1) of the Act of 1960, in which case the provisions of subsection (4) of this section shall apply to any contingent despatched.”.

The Progressive Democrats have tabled this amendment because we believe that section 2 (1) of the 1960 Act, which was enacted to facilitate peacekeeping, would be much too wideranging for peace enforcement missions, when one could envisage the position in Somalia escalating into something similar to the Gulf War.

The amendment proposes two principal changes. The first is that a memorandum be laid before Dáil Éireann setting out the basis of the United Nations mission, the size and type of force to be formed, giving a clear indication of who will have overall military control of the United Nations forces; and an exposition of the actual mandate to ensure clarity of the purpose of the mission, its objective and the circumstances in which it would be deemed to have been completed. We consider it important that participating countries should have some idea of the expected duration of any mission and the arrangements for its financing. In the past difficulties have arisen in the case of peacekeeping missions in all of these areas. Obviously, it will be of greater importance that such issues be [716] clarified when the more difficult role of peace enforcement is being undertaken.

The other principal proposal in this amendment is the requirement that the Dáil should have the opportunity to review the position every six months to coincide with the rotation of each contingent, which has been the case with UNIFIL.

It is accepted that the first mission the Irish troops will be expected to undertake following passage of this Bill will be that in Somalia. Therefore, it is important that there be a clear understanding beforehand regarding the United Nations mandate governing the UNOSOM II troops in Somalia and the mandate governing the United States peacekeeping mission in Somalia, the level and type of co-ordination existing between United States and UNOSOM II troops. For example, to what extent do United States and UNOSOM II troops operate jointly and what command and control procedures prevail? Do they operate jointly under United States command and how does that affect the UNOSOM II mandate?

Politically it is important that the role and objective of United States troops in Somalia be clarified. During the Gulf War the perception was that United States troops operated under a United Nations flag, but in reality they were controlled by the Pentagon and the United Nations was used to legitimise its activities. Consequently, troops from other nations could be caught up in activities which might not be in the strategic interests of the United Nations. In addition, it is important that the objectives of the United Nations and the United States in Somalia be known. It is of equal importance that the strategy used to achieve such objectives be known. For example, is it proposed to establish a political infrastructure in Somalia and, if so, how is such to be achieved? Is it intended to withdraw forces when political stability has been restored and relief agencies can function in safety? If that is the case then a strategy to achieve those objectives must be accompanied by a plan of implementation which must [717] include target dates and a definite timetable.

It is essential that my amendment be accepted as it provides that all these matters be clearly explained and placed before the Dáil before any decision is taken to participate in a peace enforcement mission and, in addition, it enables the Dáil to review the position regularly. I urge the Minister to accept my amendment.

Mr. Barrett: I should like to move amendments Nos. 8 and 9 in my name.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy can speak on his amendments but there can be only one amendment before the House, that is, amendment No. 4. The Deputy may advert to his amendments which are being discussed with No. 4.

Mr. Barrett: In these amendments I am endeavouring to make it clear that the Dáil makes a distinction between peace-enforcement and other activities carried out by our troops on behalf of the United Nations. The 1960 Act was passed to allow us provide troops to take part in peacekeeping missions but this is a new departure. In amendment No. 8 I am attempting to make a clear distinction between peacekeeping and peace-enforcement and asking that each resolution should be debated in the Dáil be it for ten troops or 80 troops provided they will be involved in peace-enforcement. In other words, the Dáil would be afforded a further opportunity to debate the issue of peace enforcement. It could be argued that this is provided for in section 2 of the 1960 Act but I am trying to make a distinction given that this is a new departure.

In amendment No. 9 I am trying to cover the points I made on Second Stage. At this point we should forget about Somalia. To date the discussions have centred on the provision of 80 troops to serve there but this Bill will still be on the Statute Book long after we have left this House. This legislation will enable the Government of the day to make a [718] decision as to whether Irish troops should engage in peace-enforcement in any dispute in any part of the world. Therefore, many of us on this side of the House are endeavouring to forget about Somalia for the moment. The issue is not whether we will be asked to send more troops to Somalia in six months time; we can debate that issue when the motion relating to the request to provide 80 troops is presented to the Dáil next week. Because this legislation will apply when it comes to making decisions about whether we should send troops to Bosnia, Somalia and so on the House should be given opportunity to debate each request separately to review the position after a period of 12 months and decide whether it should continue to support the cause or withdraw. While this may be cumbersome for the Government of the day this is what parliamentary democracy is all about. I appeal to the Minister and the House to support the principle I am trying to establish.

I note that in their amendments the Progressive Democrats are suggesting a period of six months but I think that this may be too short. I would respectfully suggest that it would be better to select a period of 12 months. I do not mind, however, if the House opts for a period of six months provided it is given an opportunity to debate the issue. I appeal to the Minister to afford the House an opportunity to review, renew or cancel a previous decision in respect of a particular request from the United Nations to provide troops for a peace-enforcement mission given this concept is in its infancy.

As there is a major difference between a request to provide a transport company and a request to provide a combat unit, we should watch carefully the way in which the United Nations approaches the question of peace-enforcement. Having listened to the Minister and received assurances, I am satisfied that the 80 troops in the transport company who will go to Somalia will be protected in so far as is humanly possible. I am also satisfied that the Minister has outlined the duties they will be asked to perform. I hope they [719] will receive the support of the United Nations commander in charge. The Minister cannot do any more than this.

As I said this legislation will apply not only to the request to provide these 80 troops in the transport company but also to many other requests. For this reason the Government and the House would be wise to watch carefully the way in which this issue is approached both now and in the future and we should always reserve the right to say “no”. As I said on Second Stage, if it had been a soldier wearing a blue berét who fired the Tomahawk missile which killed six civilians in Baghdad, the moral authority of the United Nations would have been seriously affected. There is a danger that people will become trigger happy. While I am not happy with the position in which the Pakistanis find themselves in Somalia, I am happy that we as a country will play our part in getting people back on the rails. We should ensure that the reputation of the United Nations will not be destroyed and lose its moral authority.

I ask the Minister to listen carefully to what the Progressive Democrats are saying and note what I am endeavouring to do in amendments Nos. 8 and 9. If the Minister were to accept my amendments, future Governments would be answerable to this House. This would be a good thing because they would be conscious that they are answerable to this House but they could go away knowing that they had received its support after the matter had been debated. I appeal to the Minister to accept the thrust of the amendments.

Mr. Molloy: The amendments under discussion are of enormous importance to those who will serve under the flag of the United Nations in the future. Because of the changes proposed in this legislation my party and I, as a former Minister for Defence, are of the view that it is absolutely essential that safeguards are provided to ensure that there is transparency in regard to the commitments that this country will give when it agrees to participate in peace-enforcement missions [720] with the United Nations in the future. The time allocated for this debate has been used up in discussing amendments which related more to foreign affairs matters than to defence matters but these amendments are crucial to protect the welfare of the men who will serve this country abroad.

There should be no doubt that under this legislation members of the Irish Defence Forces working under the United Nations flag in other countries will be putting their lives much more at risk than has been the case up to now. We cannot afford to accede to requests unless we are absolutely certain about every aspect of the mission. There is only one way in which we can do this, that is to bring the request before the House so that the elected representatives of the people can decide whether it wants the men and women of its Defence Forces to serve on peace-enforcement missions in various trouble spots throughout the world.

The conflicts in some areas can deteriorate overnight. That is why we proposed a period of six months—contingents have a six month tour of duty. I do not have time to go through all the reasons the Minister should accept our amendment and I am anxious to hear his response. I hope he will move away from the usual Civil Service-Government response to matters of this kind, for example, “These matters are safe in our hands. We will make the decisions; we have made these decisions in the past”. Our Defence Forces have not been engaged in peace-enforcement duties in the past. There was some confusion in the past as to the role of our Defence Forces and whether the mandate was being fulfilled or exceeded in certain areas. This is a very important point. I hope the Minister will say he has studied the amendment, he understands the point made by us and he is prepared to accept the amendment or alternatively, he accepts its intent and will bring [721] forward his own amendment on Report Stage.

An Ceann Comhairle: An tAire.

Proinsias De Rossa: I wish——

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not for the Chair to intervene as to how Deputies should utilise their time at this stage but I thought the House may wish to hear the Minister before the time is exhausted.

Proinsias De Rossa: I am sure it will. I wish to refer briefly to these amendments and comment on what I perceive to be a degree of arrogance on the part of some Deputies in regard to the earlier amendments which relate directly to this Defence Bill before us. The fact that that also relates to the Foreign Affairs was not of my making; it is due to the nature of the Bill.

Amendment No. 4 is a good amendment and I hope the Minister can see his way to accepting it. I would be particularly anxious to see the implementation of the procedure set out in the amendment. The committee which have been established would be a good means for ensuring that there is adequate debate by the House in advance of a decision being made to accede to a request. It is particularly important that we have a clear understanding of the mandate of the force, given that Resolutions passed by the United Nations in recent years have not been at all clear. Despite the fact that the Gulf War ended, in theory at any rate, in 1991, the United States saw fit to launch a further attack in 1992 under the mandate passed in 1991. It is important that we clearly understand the mandate when we are requested to send troops abroad.

Mr. Andrews: I agree with the general thrust of Deputy Clohessy's amendment, which is similar to Deputy Barrett's amendment. Of the two periods proposed, I think a 12 month review would be the proper approach in all the circumstances. Having studied the amendments with the experts from the [722] parliamentary draftsman's office I have formulated an amendment. While this amendment does not encapsulate all that Deputy Clohessy's amendment seeks to achieve, much of the information sought in his amendment can be obtained during the debate on the resolution which will be brought before the House by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I understand that his proposals were addressed in a general way by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday.

I agree with Deputy Barrett that we are not necessarily talking about Somalia in the context of his amendment. His amendment would cover both upcoming and future missions. The period of six months proposed in Deputy Clohessy's amendment is too short. The 12 month period proposed by Deputy Barrett would be more appropriate in the circumstances. With this in mind, I have formulated an amendment which reads as follows:

In page 3, before section 4, to insert the following new section:

4. —The Minister shall, as soon as may be after the 1st day of January in each year beginning with the year 1994, make a report to Dáil Éireann on the operation in the preceding year of section 2 of the Act of 1960 and Dáil Éireann may by resolution approve of the report.”

This amendment does not cover all of Deputy Clohessy's proposals, particularly his proposal that a memorandum should be brought before Dáil Éireann. That is a very general requirement. The information sought in section 2 (1) of the Deputy's amendment will be made available under the relevant resolution. This has been the position in regard to several missions undertaken down through the years. To my knowledge, it has never been suggested that the information forthcoming on missions was inadequate. All the information required in Deputy Clohessy's amendment is in the public domain and I am not sure that we should write it in stone. The information sought by Deputy Clohessy [723] was considered yesterday by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in the context of UNOSOM II. Arrangements are being made to debate the resolution on UNOSOM II next week.

I believe my amendment will give the House an opportunity each year to debate overseas military commitments. This would go some way towards meeting the demands of Deputy Clohessy on the one hand and Deputy Barrett on the other. Deputy Clohessy's amendment is far reaching and general and I ask him to withdraw it on the basis of the undertakings I have given. As Deputy Molloy said, he was Minister for Defence. Deputy Lenihan was Minister for Defence and I will be a former Minister for Defence one day. I cannot go any further in this regard. I should like to hear the Deputy's response to my amendment.

Mr. Barrett: I would prefer if the Minister's amendment was more definite in so far as we would have the right to review a decision. Will the Dáil have an opportunity to reject a report——

Mr. Molloy: On a point of order, we wish to press our amendment before 11 p.m.

Mr. Andrews: The answer to Deputy Barrett's question is yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Members will observe the time. As it is now 11 o'clock I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: “That the amendments set down by the Minister for Defence and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; that the sections undisposed of and the Title are hereby agreed to in Committee and the Bill, as amended, is accordingly reported to the House and Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed”.

Proinsias De Rossa: Vótáil.

[724] An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise in their places?

Deputies De Rossa, Gilmore, McManus, Rabbitte and Sargent rose.

An Ceann Comhairle: As fewer than ten Members have risen in their places I declare the question carried. The names of the Deputies who claimed a division will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Mr. M. McDowell: A Cheann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Allow me to complete my statement. The Bill is hereby passed and will now be sent——

Mr. M. McDowell: A Cheann Comhairle, I wish to raise a point of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: I may not be interrupted in declaring my decision in this matter.

Mr. M. McDowell: On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: No, Deputy, I will not hear a point of order when I am making a decision of this kind. The Bill is hereby passed and will now be sent to the Seanad.

Mr. M. McDowell: May I ask, as a point of order, whether the amendment canvassed by the Minister in his contribution constitutes an amendment set down by him and if it was passed by us? It is usual before you announce a decision to let us know what we are deciding.

An Ceann Comhairle: I think I could not have put it more plainly.

Mr. M. McDowell: I merely inquired politely whether the Minister's amendment, canvassed in his speech, had been laid before the House. I think I am entitled to a polite reply from the Chair.

[725] An Ceann Comhairle: It was circulated to the Deputy.

Mr. M. McDowell: Thank you for a polite reply, however belated.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy ought not challenge the Chair when he is putting a question.