Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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7. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to reintroduce a new Army barracks in counties Cavan, Monaghan or the greater Border region in view of Brexit and the possible reintroduction of a hard Border; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2879/20]

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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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 decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Ireland's objectives for 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.  Prior to formally leaving the EU on 31st January last, members of the British Parliament voted in favour of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill on 9th January, which implements the exit deal agreed with the EU last year. The ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement means that, regardless of the outcome of the Future Relationship negotiations, the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will be in place and, as such, that there will be no hard border on the island.   

In these circumstances, there are no plans for a new Army barracks in counties Cavan, Monaghan or the greater 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.  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. 


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