Dáil Éireann - Volume 489 - 22 April, 1998

Written Answers. - Naval Service Exercises.

37. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Defence if he supports the participation of Irish Defence Forces in the Baltic operations training exercises; the way in which he has responded to this request; and the number of times the Defence Forces have been requested to participate in this training. [9065/98]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): During the past four years the Naval Service has been invited to participate in an annual exercise conducted by the United States Naval authorities in conjunction with European nations in the Baltic Sea. In each of the years 1994, 1995 and 1997 a Naval Service representative attended the exercise as an observer.

Invitations were received for a Naval Service vessel to participate in the 1997 and 1998 exercises. It was not possible to accede to these invitations for a number of reasons but principally due to Naval Service operational commitments. I am agreeable, however, to again send a Naval Service officer in an observer capacity to the 1998 exercise.