Irish parliament approves changes in naval operations status in Mediterranean
DUBLIN, July 13 (Xinhua) -- The Dail Eireann, lower house of Irish parliament, on Thursday approved a government motion which will change in the status of the country's naval operations in the Mediterranean.
The motion was passed by 81 votes to 38, with the support of main opposition Fianna Fail (Republican Party).
On Wednesday, the cabinet proposed the motion to the Dail Eireann, seeking approval for the country to join the UN mandated Operation Sophia.
Operation Sophia, set up in 2015, involves naval vessels from several member states of the European Union (EU).
Currently, Irish navy operations in the Mediterranean are based on a bilateral arrangement with Italy. In the last two years, Irish naval forces have saved about 16,000 migrants in southern Mediterranean on a humanitarian search and rescue basis.
Changing the status of current Irish Naval operations must have the parliament's approvals.
If approved, Ireland would maintain its current level of deployment but its naval personnel would operate under a broader mandate to take action against mainly Libya-based human traffickers. Ships operating under Operation Sophia have been targeting, seizing and destroying some boats used by smugglers, once they are empty. Enditem[ Editor: meng ]