Written answers

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Department of Defence

Defence Forces Operations

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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62. To ask the Minister for Defence the status of additional initiatives the Defence Forces are taking following the Paris terror attacks in France and other incidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2750/16]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Primary responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) which, in practice, means to provide assistance and support to An Garda Síochána when requested to do so.  

There is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters, including ATCP deployments and a wide variety of military training activities are specifically designed to counter or respond to possible security emergencies. Regular co-ordination and liaison meetings also take place between the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána in relation to ATCP issues.

The full spectrum of Defence Forces personnel and equipment are available for deployment in response to any security and other emergencies that may arise. Within the Defence Forces, both the Ordnance Corps and the Army Ranger Wing specialise in providing an immediate response to emergency incidents that might require their highly specialised capabilities.

The Ordnance Corps consists of a number of Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams which are on standby 24/7 to respond when a request for assistance is received from An Garda Síochána to deal with suspect devices.

The Army Ranger Wing is an integral unit of the Defence Forces whose roles include provision of specialist ATCP support to An Garda Síochána. The need for a high level of preparedness to deal with any requests for special forces operations is inherent in the unit’s mission. Members are trained to the highest levels of motivation, physical fitness and skill at arms for their specialist role. The ARW is on standby to be called upon to undertake duties in any part of the country.

I can confirm that the Defence Forces keep their operational plans and response capabilities for dealing with a wide range of threats under constant review and I can confirm that a further review of operational plans has been instigated by the Defence Forces in light of the dreadful terrorist attacks that recently occurred in Paris.

It is my priority as Minister for Defence to ensure that the operational capacity of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible. On an ongoing basis I receive advice in this regard from the Chief of Staff and he has confirmed to me that he is satisfied that the Defence Forces are equipped and resourced to respond as appropriate to any such events were they to occur in this State.

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