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IRELAND, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

The Republic of Ireland signed the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa on 3 December 1997, and deposited its instrument of ratification at the United Nations the same day--the second nation to ratify, after Canada. This was a fitting demonstration of Ireland’s commitment on this issue. The government was one of the few to support a call for a ban as long ago as 1994, at the beginning of the review process of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. Ireland became a member of the core group of countries responsible for developing and promoting the Ottawa Process, and continues to play an important role in the movement to eliminate once and for all antipersonnel landmines. In his speech at the signing conference, Foreign Minister David Andrews said, “International public opinion will not tolerate for much longer the absence of countries, in particular significant states from the roll call of States Parties to this most significant instrument for the abolition of lethal devices which serve no military purpose and the use of which or the preparation for the use of which must quickly be deemed unacceptable anywhere by anyone.”[12]

Cooperation between Irish NGOs and the government began early in the ban process. When the Irish Campaign to Ban Landmines was launched on 29 March 1994, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee was at the NGO’s press conference and invited the new Campaign to make a presentation on the mine issue at the next meeting of his Committee. Members of the Campaign also met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss landmines and the ban movement.[13] After its presentation to the Committee in July, the Irish Campaign continued to work with the Foreign Affairs Committee on options for action, both domestically and in the European Parliament.[14] The Campaign vigorously lobbied the government and the political parties in the opposition for a unilateral ban on antipersonnel landmines in Ireland. This resulted in a private member’s bill being introduced in 1996 in the Dail for a unilateral ban on landmines. However, the government opposed the bill. But, as Irish public opinion was very high in support of a unilateral ban, and the government had to respond.

On the basis of the Explosives Act originating in 1875, a legislative ban on antipersonnel landmines was passed in the Dail on 12 June 1996 entitled Explosives (Land Mines) Order, 1996. In her statement on the law, Minister of State Joan Burton stated that the Order “copperfastens our national policy of not allowing the manufacture, sale or import of landmines. It significantly enhances our international advocacy of a total ban on antipersonnel landmines.” The Minister clarified that the Order, however, did not apply to Defense Forces. Burton also stated that the government had requested a review by the Minister of Defense with a view to renouncing operational use of APMs by the Defense Forces.[15] Obviously, Ireland came to the view that it could and must prohibit the use, as well, of antipersonnel landmines.

Ireland has continued to play a key role since the signing of the Treaty. The government has taken a particular interest, along with other core group states, in the development of the Landmine Monitor initiative of the ICBL. The government hosted a meeting of Monitor researchers in Dublin in September of 1998, providing facilities for the meeting and logistical support as well. Foreign Minister Andrews addressed the meeting, and remarked, “The unique capacity which you are proposing to develop in the Landmine Monitor will, I believe, become the benchmark for the evaluation of progress in realizing the objectives of the Convention. It will become the basis for scrutiny by the international community of States Parties’ treaty implementation; and it will become a working resource for focusing on the needs of demining and mine victim assistance.” He also announced that the government of Ireland would contribute US$150,000 to the Landmine Monitor.[16]

Ireland is a state party to the CCW and ratified the amended Protocol II on 27 March 1997.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

Various meetings of the Irish Campaign with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, letters from the Ministers, and public statements and presentations in the Dail since March 1994 have affirmed that the Irish State has never produced or exported landmines.

The Irish Defense Forces possess around 130 live antipersonnel landmines and they are solely for training purposes. Considering the size of the country, the Irish Defence Forces play an important role in UN Peacekeeping Operations which exposes them to the dangers of antipersonnel landmines for which they must be adequately prepared.

Despite the legacy of a long conflict on the island of Ireland spanning the last thirty years, there exists no record of any civilian, or member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Garda, the British Army, the Irish Defence Force or any person engaged in paramilitary activities ever being injured or killed by antipersonnel landmines. No antipersonnel landmines have been found in the ground in the State or along the Northern Ireland border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. (It is, however, common knowledge that commercial and homemade explosives were used by the paramilitaries in the Northern Ireland conflict.)

Mine Action Funding

The annual contribution of the Irish Government for mine action programs has steadily increased since 1994. Regular meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, periodic interventions at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, political lobbying, media work and the campaign as a whole in Ireland has contributed to this steady increase. At the Ottawa signing conference, Foreign Minister Andrews stated, “Ireland is steadily increasing its funding for mine clearance and victim assistance and in 1997 we have doubled our disbursements in this area. We are committed to a further increase in 1998.”[17]

The government reported that its mine action contributions for 1997 had included: Angola ($366,000); Bosnia ($225,000); Cambodia ($294,000); Chechnya ($363,000); Mozambique ($240,000), and the UN Trust Fund ($225,000).[18]

A November 1998 “Mine Action Bilateral Donor Support” fact sheet lists these Irish contributions:[19]

Afghanistan U.S. $ 41,578 (UNOCHA/mine action)

Angola U.S. $252,971 (Handicap International/prosthetics)

Bosnia U.S. $166,310 (UNDP Trust Fund/mine clearance)

Cambodia U.S. $357,567 (Halo Trust/mine clearance)

Cambodia U.S. $157,995 (Trocaire/ four clinics)

Mozambique U.S. $317,652 (Country Program/mine clearance)

The United Nations reports that Ireland has donated US$787,841 to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Demining.[20]


[12] Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Mr. David Andrews, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.

[13]Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, Landmines Update, No. 7, April 1994.

[14]Landmines Update, No. 8, September 1994.

[15]Minister of State Joan Burton, Statement of 19 June 1996, as cited in Landmines Update, No. 13, July 1996.

[16] Opening Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews at the Landmine Monitor Meeting, Dublin Castle, 15 September 1998.

[17] Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Mr. David Andrews, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.

[18] US State Department, Hidden Killers, September 1998, p. C-6.

[19]UN Mission of Norway, “Mine Action Bilateral Donor Support,” 16 November 1998.

[20]United Nations, Assistance in mine clearance: Report of the Secretary-General, A/53/96, 14 October 1998, p. 29.