Ireland's Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe has secured Dáil approval for the deployment of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force to serve as part of the European Union (EU) naval mission in the Mediterranean, EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia.
The Dáil approval follows the permission granted by the Irish Government for Kehoe’s proposal, which seeks to arrange the transfer of the existing naval service deployment in the Mediterranean under Operation Pontus to Operation Sophia.
It also completes the triple lock mechanism of UN, government and Dáil approval, which is an essential step towards the deployment of defence forces members overseas as part of an international initiative.
Transferring the forces to Operation Sophia will lead to the redeployment of Irish naval service vessels from primarily humanitarian search and rescue activities to security and interception operations.
Kehoe said: “In addition to Ireland’s contribution to the humanitarian effort in the Mediterranean to date, Ireland will now be making a contribution to addressing some of the root causes of migration and human trafficking.”
The government’s decision will now require the naval service to transfer to Operation Sophia at an appropriate juncture, a move that may require a preparatory period of up to two months.
Kehoe added: “The government is extremely proud of the manner in which the naval service has performed its role in the Mediterranean.”