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Written answers

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Department of Defence

Defence Forces Operations

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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50. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of times aid to the civil power functions were carried out by Defence Forces personnel in Shannon Airport with regard to US military aircraft in 2016; his views on whether the ongoing use of Shannon Airport by the US military could make Ireland, in practice, part of a military alliance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7138/17]

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin Fingal, Independent)
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61. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the proportion of the total spend on aid to civil power duties by his Department that was spent on performing aid to civil power duties for United States of America military aircraft landing at Shannon Airport in 2016. [7340/17]

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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68. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the criteria or protocols in place that enable or allow the Army to operate in Shannon Airport including the person or body that makes the decision to deploy the Army to Shannon, the purposes for same and the circumstances under which; the total cost to the State of the Army operations at Shannon Airport from January 2016 to date in 2017 by month including the nature of the operations; the number of Army personnel deployed and the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7105/17]

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 50, 61 and 68 together.

The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for the internal security of the State. 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 assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. On each occasion that the support of the Defence Forces is required, An Garda Síochána issues a form C70 to the Defence Forces to request their assistance.

Since 5 February 2003, the Gardaí have requested support from the Defence Forces at Shannon Airport on occasion. The cost of the presence of Defence Forces at Shannon Airport, performing aid to civil power duties with regard to United States of America military aircraft landing at Shannon airport in 2016 and to date in 2017 is €201,491.79 for 432 deployments. The following table details a breakdown of this figure.

Month (2016) No. of Deployments Costs €
January 36 15,457.23
February 27 13,896.72
March 39 15,492.39
April 47 15,101.14
May 33 15,422.07
June 39 15,007.38
July 22 15,293.15
August 26 15,340.03
September 35 14,960.50
October 46 15,574.13
November 22 14,808.14
December 24 15,316.59
January (2017) 26 15,340.03
February (2017 to date) 10 4,482.29
Total 432 201,491.79

The costs relate to security duty allowance paid to members of the Defence Forces, rations and fuel. The cost of ATCP operations are met entirely from the Defence Vote. There is no separate budget line as decisions are taken in respect of these operations on a case by case basis. Therefore, the information on the proportion of the total spend on ATCP operations that are spent on these ATCP deployments in Shannon is not readily available.

For security reasons it would not be appropriate to disclose the details regarding the number of personnel assigned to each deployment.

The issue of overflights by foreign military aircraft and the use of Shannon Airport by foreign military aircraft is the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. Successive Governments have made overflight and landing facilities available at Shannon Airport to the United States for well over 50 years. These arrangements do not amount to any form of military alliance with t he US and are governed by strict conditions, applied to ensure compatibility with our traditional policy of military neutrality.

I am satisfied that there is ongoing and close liaison between both An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces, and between my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality regarding security matters generally, including the Defence Forces ATCP roles.

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