Written Answers. - Coastguard Service.

Donal Carey

Question:

25 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Defence if he is considering the establishment of a coastguard service to police our coastline; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

26 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence whether the Navy will have an operational role in the coastal cutters proposed to be purchased to help prevent drug smuggling; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 26 together.

The Defence Forces provide assistance to the civil authorities. There is a satisfactory level of liaison and co-operation between the Defence Forces and the other agencies concerned. In this regard, I can see a very positive role for the Naval Service and the Air Corps in association with the Garda and Customs authorities in preventing the illegal importation of drugs and other materials into this country. The Department of Defence has no proposals under consideration to purchase coastal cutters.