Thursday, 7 November 2019
Department of Defence
23. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to reconsider the consolidation of the Defence Forces barracks infrastructure of 2011 in view of Brexit and security issues in the Border region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45741/19]
The White Paper on Defence, approved by Government in July 2015, comprehensively deals with all aspects of defence policy and was informed by a wide-ranging consultation process. Retention of the Army's two brigade structure is among the commitments outlined in the White Paper. The two-brigade Army structure along with certain barrack closures has seen the consolidation of understrength units into smaller numbers of full strength units, a reduction in the number of headquarters and the associated redeployment of personnel from administrative and support functions to operational units. This has resulted in an improvement in the deployability and sustainability of the Defence Forces, both at home and overseas.
I am fully satisfied that the current structures optimise the capacity of the Defence Forces to continue to fulfil all of the roles assigned by Government. As such, there are no plans to reconsider the consolidation of the Defence Forces barracks infrastructure in view of Brexit and security issues in the Border region. As I have said in the past, primary responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Minister for Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána. Accordingly, responsibility for the security aspect of border control rests with An Garda Síochána, while the Revenue Commissioners also have responsibilities relating to their particular mandate.
Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power which, in practice, means to provide assistance and support to An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. There is ongoing close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters and regular coordination and liaison meetings take place. The Defence Forces also provide support to the Revenue Commissioners, again, when requested to do so.
As part of a whole of Government approach, my Department continues to engage in forward planning with the other Departments involved in addressing all issues relevant to the UK's decision to leave the European Union. My Department continues to monitor the ongoing situation to ensure that both it and the Defence Forces are fully prepared to address any potential issues that might arise in the defence area as a consequence of Brexit.