Thursday, 30 July 2020
Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation
Leo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
There is no mystery and no conspiracy here and the Deputy can exaggerate it and all the rest. I am happy to be very clear about this. There are particular security protocols when it comes to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade travelling to Northern Ireland. When that Minister, whoever he or she may be, travels to Northern Ireland, that person has to have a Garda car and Garda protection, that is, an armed driver. They are met at the Border by the PSNI which escorts them throughout Northern Ireland. That has been security protocol for the best part of 20 years. For most of the past ten years, the Tánaiste has also been the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade so this has not been an issue. However, it happened on occasion, when the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade was not the Tánaiste, that they had to have civilian drivers south of the Border and also had to have use of a Garda car when going to Northern Ireland. That was the situation that the former Minister, Deputy Charles Flanagan, dealt with. When I knew I was to be the Tánaiste and that, therefore, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the next Government would not be the Tánaiste, I asked the Secretary General of the Government to look into the matter and decide what was appropriate. That was the beginning and end of my involvement in this. The Secretary General made inquiries and the Garda Commissioner advised that it would be appropriate for the current arrangements to be maintained.