Dáil Éireann - Volume 489 - 22 April, 1998

Written Answers. - Overseas Missions.

46. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Defence the way in which the specific criteria set out by the United Nations, which advises that countries contributing to a mission must take [1626] cognisance, inter alia, of the nature of the area of operations, the facilities therein, the customs, culture and religious ethos of the local population and the role of women in the particular society, has impacted on the role that women in the Defence Forces can play on overseas missions. [9276/98]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The United Nations makes no distinction between men and women in the deployment of personnel on United Nations peacekeeping operations. The decision as to whether to assign women to peacekeeping duties is one for the troop-contributing countries concerned. My Department's policy accords with United Nations policy in this regard. Account would, however, be taken of host nation policy in this matter when considering the question of contributing personnel to any particular mission.

A total of 23 Irish female personnel are currently serving on overseas missions, 19 of whom are serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).