September 26, 2022

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Ireland has contributed more than €2.3 million to Nato in the last decade for intelligence sharing, training and other costs.

Although not a Nato member, Ireland is involved in several Nato initiatives and projects. The most significant of these, the Partnership for Peace (PFP) programme, is cost free but payments must be made for some training exercises for Defence Forces troops and to cover the stationing of officials in Nato headquarters.

According to figures obtained by The Irish Times, the Department of Defence has paid €1.5 million to Nato since 2011. This includes payments of €1.06 million to the Battlefield Information Collection and Exploitation Systems (Bices) Group Executive.

Bices is a Nato entity which supplies Nato and PFP members with real-time military intelligence.

Other payments include €386,000 to the Nato training facility in Oberammergau, Germany where Defence Forces personnel have attended various courses over the years.

Just under €20,000 has been paid to Nato for medical facilities on KFOR, a NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo where 20 Irish troops are stationed.

Another €20,300 has been spent on maritime interdiction training for the Defence Forces at a dedicated Nato facility on the Greek island of Crete while just €500 has so far been spent on Nato’s co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia. Ireland joined the Centre in 2019 and has one Defence Forces officer stationed there.

Last year was the most expensive year for Nato costs in the last decade with the Department of Defence paying out €179,000. This figure is likely to increase in the coming years as Ireland moves to take part in more Nato associated initiatives, including the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki, Finland.

Full Nato membership does not seem likely to happen in the near future, with strong public and political opposition to joining the alliance. This opposition has remained steady even after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the applications by Finland and Sweden to join the organisation.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has also incurred Nato related costs, amounting to €860,000 since 2019. The majority of these are administrative costs relating to Ireland’s liaison office at Nato headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Ireland’s ambassador to Belgium is the official representative to Nato but a small staff is also maintained at the headquarters.

The associated costs include rent and phone bills of between €66,000 and €170,000 a year and a contribution of €407,328 to the renovation of Nato office spaces.

Ireland has also contributed to two Nato “trust funds” in recent years. According to Nato, these funds are for “demilitarisation, defence transformation or capacity building” in countries which request assistance.

Last year, Ireland contributed €100,000 to a Nato trust fund for African UN troop contributing countries and another €50,000 to a Nato trust fund to assist Jordan with disposing of out-of-date ammunition.

Under PFP, Ireland has been a contributor to multiple Nato trust funds over the years, including in Ukraine, Serbia, Albania and Georgia. These mainly focus of the safe destruction of arms, mines and dangerous chemicals.

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