Thursday, 7 November 2019
Department of Defence
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. The Brexit Omnibus Act 2019, and the publication of the Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update last July, reflects the extensive work which has taken place at EU level and on a whole-of-Government basis to prepare for a no deal Brexit.
Ireland's objectives for this stage of the Brexit process have been clear and consistent from the very beginning. Recognising the unique situation on the island of Ireland, the revised draft Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland provides important safeguards that the Good Friday Agreement will be protected in all its parts, including avoiding a hard border, protecting North South cooperation and the all island economy. It also protects the integrity of the EU's Single Market and Customs Union and Ireland's place in them. The Agreement reached between the EU and the UK clearly achieves all of these objectives. It remains the Government's view that ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement remains the best way to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to ensure an orderly withdrawal.
In light of this, there are no plans for the reinstatement of troops in the Border counties. 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. The Defence Forces also provide support to the Revenue Commissioners, again, 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. 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.