Written Answers. - Defence Forces Role.

Seán Power

Question:

332 Mr. Power asked the Minister for Defence the consideration he has given to changing some functions carried out by our Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19537/00]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the role of the Defence Forces in providing aid to the civil power. The roles of the Defence Force as assigned by Government are set out in the White Paper on Defence which was published in February this year. To aid the civil power – meaning in practice to assist, when requested, the Garda Síochána who have the primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State – is among the assigned roles.

As can be seen, the primary responsibility for internal security rests with An Garda Síochána. The Defence forces, pursuant to their role of rendering aid to the civil power, assist the gardaí as required. This entails such duties as assisting the gardaí at roadblocks, checkpoints and searches, including in the Border area. The Defence Forces also assist the gardaí in relation to prisoner escorts, cash escorts and explosives escorts. No change in this role is envisaged.

The question of the level of demand on the Defence Forces in aid of the gardaí is kept under constant review in my Department in consultation with the relevant Departments as well as with the Garda authorities.