Legislation to get rid of triple lock being drawn up ‘without delay’, Tánaiste tells Dáil

Micheál Martin says legislation will have to be approved by Dáil and Seanad

Legislation to get rid of Ireland’s triple lock mechanism governing military deployment overseas is being drawn up “without delay”, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin said such legislation will then be brought to Government and would have to be subsequently approved by the Dáil and Seanad.

He also said there could “very well” be a mission to the Middle East if there was an effective peace plan in place there.

Under the triple lock system, 12 or more Defence Forces troops cannot be deployed on an active overseas mission without approval from the Dáil, the Government and authorisation from the UN.


Mr Martin, who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, announced last November plans to scrap the triple lock. He said he wanted Ireland to be able to respond to crises without waiting for approval from the UN Security Council, which has not authorised a new peacekeeping mission since 2014.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy asked Mr Martin in the Dáil what was the time frame in which he intended to bring forward “regrettable proposals” to remove the triple lock, and which missions he envisaged the Defence Forces participating in from which they are currently precluded.

In response, the Tánaiste said any modification to the triple lock will continue to require Government and Dáil approval for the dispatch of Defence Forces personnel to take part in peacekeeping and similar missions.

Mr Martin added it would “do nothing to change Ireland’s traditional position of military neutrality”.

The Fianna Fáil leader said there “clearly” needed to be a new process to replace the current system, which effectively allowed UN Security Council members to bind “Ireland’s hands in its international engagement”.

“While not being prescriptive about what changes will be made, I have instructed officials in my department to prepare legislative proposals without delay that would govern the future overseas deployments of our Defence Forces,” he said.

“Work on the preparation of those legislative proposals is progressing, with a view to bringing them to the Government in due course.

“Any proposals agreed by the Government will then have to be presented to, and debated and approved, by the Dáil and the Seanad, thus providing the Oireachtas with ample opportunity to scrutinise any such proposals. It is important to emphasise that any legislative proposals will remain fully consistent with the principles of the UN charter and international law.”

Mr Martin also said the Government had no plans for the Defence Forces to participate in any further overseas missions at present.

“Indeed, and extremely regrettably, however, no new peacekeeping missions have been approved by the UN Security Council since 2014,” he said.

“Given the volatility in international security today, we need in the future to be able to deploy our Defence Forces to peacekeeping and crisis response missions speedily and with agility, irrespective of whether they are led by the UN, the EU or another regional organisation.”

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Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times