Monday 23 April 2018

Mission to destroy smuggler ships not ruled out - Coveney

Mr Coveney said that Irish Naval involvement in the current humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean was his main focus
Mr Coveney said that Irish Naval involvement in the current humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean was his main focus
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Defence Minister hasn't ruled out Irish participation in an EU mission to capture and destroy people smugglers' vessels in the Mediterranean.

Mr Coveney said he'd be "very cautious" about committing the Naval Service to such an operation but that Ireland wasn't prohibited from taking part if the 'triple lock' of Government and Dáil approval along with a UN mandate was satisfied.

The hardline mission against people traffickers - Eunavfor Med - was launched last month. Mr Coveney said that the Government had not made a decision on participation, adding that Irish Naval involvement in the current humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean was his focus.

"I haven't really taken advice or looked for Government feedback on how we'll respond to the broader mission. I think we're a few steps away from that," he said.

"I think getting a UN mandate for a more focused and pro-active approach towards dealing with people traffickers and smugglers in north Africa would probably take some time, so I think we'll have plenty of time to consider that."

His said his own view was that it was "unlikely" the Naval Service would be used in an enforcement mission of this type. "I think we're performing a very good role at the moment and I think the ship that's here is really useful in that regard and I would be very cautious to go beyond that at this point."

Irish Independent

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