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June 16, 2004

Dail Debates. Written Answers. National Security : Dail Debates

117. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if sufficient back-up is available to ensure the adequacy of coastal defences, particularly in the context of drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and terrorist attacks; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The primary responsibility for the prevention of drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and terrorist attacks rests with the Garda and the Revenue Commissioners, who are also responsible for the detention of persons and/or the seizure of drugs or equipment at sea. The White Paper on Defence gives the Naval Service and the Air Corps a security role in assisting and supporting the civil authorities in this important work. The main day-to-day role of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State’s obligations as a member of the EU.

The Government has taken measures to improve drugs law enforcement, including the establishment in 1993 of a joint task force involving the Garda, the Customs and Excise and the Naval Service. Such measures have helped to maximise the effective use of the resources of the Naval Service in combating drug trafficking, etc. The Air Corps provides air support and sometimes carries the customs national drugs team in an observation capacity for the purpose of monitoring vessels suspected of drug trafficking or other such illegal activities. The civil authorities - the Garda and the customs service - engage in close co-operation with the Naval Service and the Air Corps in discharging this important mission. I am satisfied that the extent of Naval Service and Air Corps reconnaissance measures, in conjunction with the Garda and the Customs and Excise, has had a major and beneficial impact in deterring drug trafficking and other such illegal activities.


118. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if he has satisfied himself regarding the adequacy of resources to ensure the protection of sensitive installations, having particular regard to the possibility of a terrorist attack; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18114/04]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The Garda Síochána has primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State. This includes the protection of installations from terrorist attack. The question of the adequacy of resources in this regard is therefore a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, in the first instance. The Defence Forces will continue to render appropriate assistance in the provision of aid to the civil powers as may be appropriate in specific circumstances when requested by the Garda.

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