Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 11 Jul 2017

Vol. 957 No. 3

Priority Questions

Defence Forces Personnel

Lisa Chambers


28. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when he received the report reviewing claims made by Air Corps whistleblowers; when it will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32775/17]

My question is in respect of the Air Corps and the ongoing health and safety issues in that organisation which span a number of years. When did the Minister of State receive the report reviewing claims made by Air Corps whistleblowers? When will it be published? Will the Minister of State make a statement on the matter?

I thank the Deputy for the question and extend my apologies for being late. The report of the independent third party I appointed to carry out a review into alleged failings of the Air Corps in the area of health and safety with regard to the use of toxic chemicals, was received by my Department on Friday, 16 June 2017 and submitted to me on Monday, 19 June 2017.

As the Deputy will be aware, the allegations are also the subject of ongoing litigation and I have therefore sought legal advice in respect of the report. The Deputy will also be aware of the obligations to protect the identity of those who made disclosures and this will also have to be considered. When the legal advice is to hand, I will determine the next steps to be taken, including the issue of possible publication.

The individuals who made the disclosures were notified by my office that the report had been received and I have indicated to them that once I have legal advice and have determined the next steps I will be in contact with them again.

I am committed to ensuring that recommendations contained in the report will be acted upon swiftly to ensure the safety of the men and women of the Air Corps. To that end, I have also sent the report to the Chief of Staff for his observations and response which I expect to have before the close of business this week.

Do I take it that there is a possibility that the report will not be published? If so, that is highly inappropriate and totally unacceptable to the House. When does the Minister of State expect to have this legal advice? When does he expect to decide what to do next? When will we know what is happening? The Minister of State says that he will fully implement the recommendations. Will we even have sight of them? How will we know they are being implemented?

There were reports recently that one of the whistleblowers is facing dismissal from the Defence Forces next month due to an industrial dispute. It is reported that the man, who made protected disclosures about health and safety management of hazardous chemicals at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, has been summoned to appear before a Defence Forces medical board in August. A brief report issued prior to the board meeting has accused the member of chronic ineffectivity due to anxiety and a work-related industrial dispute. The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 is supposed to protect people who make disclosures. Has the Minister of State met this whistleblower to discuss his concerns? Did he inform the Minister of State that an Air Corps official ordered the shredding of health and safety inspection reports dating back to the 1990s? If so, I assume he is not the first person to make such an allegation. What does the Minister of State propose to do in respect of those reports, which cannot now be found?

Regarding the people who made the protected disclosures, I have met two of the individuals. One was unavailable to meet at the time. The conversations which I had with both persons will remain private and confidential. That is only fair. I have asked the Chief of Staff to investigate those reports which the Deputy spoke about and on which I have received correspondence. Regarding the individual in the Defence Forces and the dismissal, I only became aware of this recently. I do not want to specify an exact date. I have asked for a report on that issue. Regarding the legal advice sought, I will not put any pressure on those from whom I have sought legal advice in respect of the report but I have asked them to prioritise it and I expect to receive it shortly. Regarding the publication of the report, as soon as I have the legal advice and the response from the Chief of Staff I will make a judgment. After that I will proceed to the next stage and consider the publication of the report.

There is much mention of reports but there are missing reports which have not been accounted for in highly suspicious circumstances. There is no review report from the Minister of State in terms of the whistleblower allegations. We do not know what the recommendations will be and we have had no health review of those affected. We have had very little progress since we first raised this issue in the Chamber with the Minister of State. The progress is extremely slow and very unfair to those affected.

Last month I met six former members of the Air Corps. I am sure the Minister of State has met at least some of that group. All were in their 40s, apart from one who was in his 50s. They are suffering from huge health problems they all believe stem from their exposure to chemicals in the Air Corps. All have had colonoscopies, in some cases more than one. A has had rectal cancer, neurological neuropathy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, despite having never smoked. B has Hodgkin's disease and COPD. He has had five emergency surgeries. He has lost his house, his marriage has broken up and he lives in constant pain. C has suffered huge health issues including two heart attacks. He once was once found face-down on the floor. Thankfully his wife was a first responder. D has experienced nausea, anxiety, diabetes, autoimmune conditions and so on. E was doused in chemicals as a prank and as a direct result of that has ongoing health issues.

These are individuals I have met in person. This cannot be a coincidence. We need an immediate health review of all persons possibly affected. The State needs to step up. If we have done wrong and if, as an employer, our inadequacy in health and safety has resulted in serious problems for people we need to step up and ensure their health cover is paid for and they are properly compensated.

It is the right thing to do.

Some of these cases are under litigation. I will leave that at that. The Deputy is being unfair in making the accusation that nothing has been done here. On numerous occasions in reply to written and oral parliamentary questions and in Topical Issue debates, I have given her the full detail of the Health and Safety Authority, HSA, report that has been carried out, the number of visits the HSA has made to the Air Corps, the number of recommendations it has made, the way we are dealing with the recommendations and a timeline for everything. I have outlined that to her. It is unfair and unjust for her to make an accusation to me-----

The HSA's words are not the Minister of State's own words.

-----that the HSA-----

We have no report from the Minister of State-----

The Minister of State to conclude, without interruption.

It is unfair of the Deputy to make an accusation that-----

-----and no action for those who are suffering.

-----there has been no action on this. She is-----

Those affected have had no action.

It reminds me of some-----

Outline the-----

She is telling untruths. It is beneath her to do that.

Health and Safety Inspections

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


29. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on whether it is credible that all copies of the reports of inspections into health and safety at Casement Aerodrome in the 1990s sent by Forbairt to the Department of Defence in 1995, 1997 and 1998 have disappeared; his further views on the position of military authorities whose lack of concern at their disappearance is matched by their inaction when informed the reports were missing; if he will initiate an independent probe into the disappearance of these reports which whistleblowers claim in a protected disclosure were to be shredded on the orders of a named official; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32215/17]

Does the Minister of State seriously want us to believe that at least four health and safety reports into conditions in workshops etc. at the Air Corps' Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, County Dublin, have just vanished in an organisation that is scrupulous in retaining files? It is inexcusable that no investigation into the disappearance has been initiated even though we know that at least two of the files were scheduled for shredding.

As I indicated to the Deputy in my letter of 17 May 2017 and my reply to Question No. 2278 on 20 June 2017, I was advised by the military authorities that there was a report on measuring carbon monoxide fumes from aircraft compiled by Forbairt in 1995 and a further report on monitoring air contaminants in workshops in 1997, which was also compiled by Forbairt.

Unfortunately, following an extensive search and the military authorities having consulted Enterprise Ireland, which superseded Forbairt, and having also conducted a search within the Department, it has not been possible to locate these reports.

The military authorities have indicated that the Defence Forces have neither a hard copy record nor an electronic copy of the Forbairt reports. The military authorities have indicated there are a range of potential causes for the loss of the reports such as the changeover of electronic recording systems in 2004 or that the reports were misplaced over time. However, this is purely speculative.

This matter was raised with me in recent correspondence where certain allegations were made that the documents had been destroyed. The correspondence in question was also addressed to the Chief of Staff and to the Deputy. I have requested a report from the Chief of Staff on the actions taken on foot of the accusation. When that report is to hand, I will consider what further steps may be required.

Many former Air Corps members, especially those involved in the maintenance of planes in the 1980s, 1990s and since, are suffering severe chronic illnesses that they believe were caused by their exposure to toxic chemicals while working as technicians at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. A toxicologist has given his medical opinion that these conditions exist in the case of six men who are suing the State and that they developed as a result of their exposure to chemicals.

I have been alarmed at the possible clusters of very serious health anomalies existing in Air Corps personnel and former personnel, including autoimmune problems, chronic fatigue, bowel failure, heart conditions, mental health problems, a higher than normal number of birth defects among the children of those servicemen and servicewomen and, in certain cases, infertility.

Central to all this is the question whether the State took all reasonable steps to protect the workers. At least four health and safety inspection reports produced in the 1990s have gone missing. These inspections were carried out on behalf of the State body, Forbairt. The Minister of State claims that one such report has gone missing, but it is in fact four. I know the Minister of State has had sight of at least two of those recently. Did he ask for a copy of those reports to follow up on questions raised in this House? Is he aware that some of those reports exist beyond the two he has seen? On foot of those, will he go back to those authorities, which have files on everything? These are not electronic because it was in an era when most of them were done on paper.

I have referred the Deputy to ongoing litigation involving a number of former employees of the Air Corps and the Irish Defence Forces. When I became aware of the reports the Deputy mentioned, I made my own inquiries. I have written to the Chief of Staff and asked him about these reports. When I got further correspondence from the personnel section, I handed over a copy the correspondence and asked him to come back to me on it. I did not destroy any reports nor am I aware of anyone destroying any reports. I have asked the Defence Forces Chief of Staff to investigate and find out why the reports were not kept on record within the Defence Forces. If the Deputy has any information regarding who destroyed the reports, I will gladly listen to him.

Does the Minister of State believe personal protection equipment was issued to the men and women in the Air Corps in the 1980s? Does he believe they were seriously exposed to chemicals such as these? I know he has seen the photograph I am holding up. It was shown to him by the whistleblowers. When he met the whistleblowers, did he ask them for copies of the report? I have in my hand copies of two of the reports that were scheduled for shredding.

If the Deputy wants the Minister of State to respond, he must conclude.

In the Minister of State's view, are the whistleblowers distinguished or disgusting?

I gave freely of my time to meet the personnel and I listened to their cases. It is appropriate that I treat the information they gave me in full confidence. I treated both individuals with the height of respect. The Deputy is aware of the ongoing litigation against me as Minister of State at the Department of Defence. It would be inappropriate for me to discuss those cases.

I remind Deputies that they will not be able to ask a second supplementary question if people talk down the clock. If they want the Minister of State to respond, they need to stick to the times.

International Terrorism

Lisa Chambers


30. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the measures put in place to bolster the capacity of the Defence Forces in assisting in dealing with a major terrorist incident; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32776/17]

What measures have been put in place to bolster the capacity of the Defence Forces in assisting in dealing with a potential major terrorist incident? What kind of planning has taken place? What threats have been identified? Are we ready?

The White Paper on Defence, published in the autumn of 2015, considered the security environment, including the threat from international terrorism. The security environment is kept under constant review. The White Paper notes that the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for protecting the internal security of the State. The Defence Forces provide, on request, supports in aid to the civil power of an ongoing and contingent nature.

An Garda Síochána can request a broad range of supports from the Defence Forces, including explosive ordnance disposal teams and the Army Ranger wing. Ongoing co-ordination and liaison meetings take place between the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána. Based on ongoing threat assessments, the Garda and the Defence Forces liaise with regard to possible Defence Forces supports required for a range of contingencies. As part of this co-operation, initiatives to enhance support and interoperability include the development of agreed protocols, joint seminars on response to a terrorist attack and tabletop exercises on crisis management.

I can confirm that there is very active co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.

As Minister of State with responsibility for defence, my priority is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government, including the provision of support in the form of aid to the civil power in the event of a terrorist incident.

The White Paper on Defence sets the defence capability agenda for the next decade. In recognising the dynamic nature of the security environment, the Government decided that the Defence Forces would continue to retain a range of flexible conventional military capabilities, in order to meet the roles assigned and as a hedge to future uncertainty.

A broad range of White Paper projects are currently being implemented which are intended to identify, develop and maintain such capabilities.

It remains a top priority for me and my Department to implement the White Paper projects and ensure that the operational capacity of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible.

Assessing the security environment is one thing but the issue is whether we are ready to deal with an incident. In that event, if there is an Islamic terrorist attack in the country - I hope we never see that day - the State's two specialist units, namely, An Garda Síochána's emergency response unit, ERU, and the Defence Forces Army Ranger Wing are both located on the east coast. Should an attack take place requiring specialist intervention in the south west or the north west, the transportation of the specialist forces would be a major challenge due to the geography of the country. The Air Corps does not have a troop-carrying vehicle to transfer personnel from one location to another. As a consequence, it would take us a number of hours to get the specialists to a particular location. If, for example, there was an incident in the Ring of Kerry or somewhere in Mayo, how would we transport the troops that we need or personnel from the ERU to that location? Could we reasonably respond in the same timeframe, for example, that the emergency units in the UK responded to the attacks that took place there recently? I believe the honest answer would be "No".

We know that the ERU and the Army Ranger Wing have undertaken joint scenario planning, strictly on a table-top basis. They have not put the planning into practice and practice is clearly the key. Both entities have showcased their operational capabilities to each other but only in a demonstrated form. No deployed live exercises have ever taken place involving the ERU and the Army Ranger Wing. Is that acceptable given the international climate and the attacks that have taken place in neighbouring countries close to us? Can we really leave ourselves in such a low state of preparedness?

The Defence Forces provide, on request, support to aid the civil power on an ongoing and contingent basis. An Garda Síochána can request a broad range of supports from the Defence Forces, including the services of explosive ordnance disposal teams and the Army Ranger Wing.

The Deputy spoke about transportation of military personnel. One of the reasons we have rotary helicopters is to be in a position to transfer Army personnel, if needed, to whatever part of the country. Deputy Chambers might be aware that when the White Paper on Defence was set out in 2015, we looked at the capabilities and threat assessment. The current threat assessment is moderate, that is, possible but not likely. Like the Deputy, I hope we never have to deal with such a scenario but we must be ready, willing and able to respond to any terrorist attack. There is ongoing communication between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces and they are partaking in table-top exercises. The Chief of Staff is in regular contact with the Garda Commissioner.

Deputy Chambers can ask a very quick supplementary question. There are fewer than 40 seconds left.

My point is that a table-top exercise is not sufficient. That is fine in the planning stages in terms of working together as a co-ordinated group but one needs to put that into practice. It is my understanding that a significant contributing factor that has prevented live exercises taking place is that there is a divergence in terms of the standard operating procedures, SOPs, and tactics, techniques and procedures, TTPs. Both entities operate under separate SOPs and TTPs. Should a complex terror attack occur, An Garda Síochána is first in line to respond. If military personnel have to assist, then command and control is key in the context of who is in charge and how it works. The only way one can iron out the bugs, for want of a better phrase, is by live practice, so one entity gets to know how the other operates and both get to know how to work together. That has not been done. It is good practice, even if the threat is considered low, to know how to work with the other group in the event that it is required. I urge the Minister of State to look seriously at the issue. He should speak to the officials in the Department and to Defence Forces management. He should also speak to his counterpart in the Department of Justice and Equality who is responsible for An Garda Síochána because it is important that such an approach is taken. It is quite bizarre that a live practice has never been carried out, not to mention on a monthly basis.

I am moving on to Ceist Uimh. 31. I am sorry but the time has run out on that question. I already warned that this would happen.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Mick Barry


31. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if members of the Defence Forces who have not been permitted to take their full annual leave allowance in recent years can be fully compensated for this loss. [32344/17]

In recent years, many members of the Defence Forces have not been permitted to take their full annual leave allowance. Does the Minister of State intend to fully compensate them for those losses?

Depending on rank, the annual leave entitlement for officers varies from 31 to 43 days and for non-commissioned officers and privates from 28 to 30 days. Non-commissioned officers or privates filling appointments as instrumentalists in the establishments of the Defence Forces School of Music may be granted 31 days annual leave and members of the Naval Service serving afloat may be granted annual leave of 43 days. Members of the Defence Forces are entitled also to public holidays and to three specific military holidays.

In addition, a wide variety of special leave is available to Defence Forces personnel, such as mission leave when deployed abroad, special leave on return home, certain NCOs and privates qualify for special leave on extension of service and on termination of service subject to various requirements. Certain officers may be granted special leave prior to retirement.

Defence Forces regulation, DFR, A11 governs the granting of leave, other than sick leave, in the Permanent Defence Force. As part of normal personnel management, the granting of annual leave is a balance between the entitlement of the individual to annual leave and the requirement to ensure continuity of a public service. Paragraph 16 of DFR A11 provides for the carrying forward of annual leave not granted or availed of in the leave year concerned. This can be of benefit both to the individual and the organisation. Officers may be allowed to carry forward a maximum of 24 days, non-commissioned officers and privates in the Army and Air Corps may carry forward a maximum of 19 days and non-commissioned officers and ordinary or able seamen of the Naval Service may carry forward a maximum of 24 days.

The request to increase the number of carry-over days has been considered. The current carry-over has been found to be proportionate and reasonable.

I have been advised by my officials that three plenary summonses have been taken by members of the Defence Forces in respect of the transposition of the working time directive and the carry-over of annual leave. Given that these matters are before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further on the legal proceedings which have been commenced in connection with this matter.

I submitted a question last year and it took an age for me to receive a response. That response finally arrived in January. I inquired as to how many days over the course of recent years have been surrendered to the State on foot of paragraph 16 of the DFR A11, which limits an annual carry-over to 19 days, regardless of whether members of the Defence Forces can actually avail of their leave entitlement due to tours of duty, leave cancellation and post-tour rest and recuperation. The fact is that in 2015 - the only year for which the Department has so far come back to me with figures - the level of annual leave entitlements denied to Defence Forces personnel came to a wage equivalent to €30 million. I do not see much balance there.

Yesterday, an article in the Irish Examiner on the University of Limerick report referred to poor pay, lack of expertise and exhaustion. Clearly, the denial of the request to roll over annual leave, which the previous reply disgracefully described as "privilege" is a contributory factor. The Minister of State will be discussing the issue with PDFORRA and RACO on Thursday. What will he say to them on this and other issues?

I am not sure whether the Deputy is aware that PDFORRA brought a claim within the provisions of the conciliation and arbitration scheme. Discussions within the scheme are confidential. In addition, the matter is now subject to legal proceedings. It would be totally inappropriate for me to comment on these cases. However, as the Deputy will be aware, it remains open to PDFORRA, under the terms of the scheme, to record its disagreement at council and to refer the matter for independent adjudication.

As I have stated, three individuals have taken separate cases. There is a number of reasons that people might be unable to take leave. To give a practical example, if an individual is selected for an overseas mission deploying in May, her or she may not be in a position to take annual leave for nine months of that year. He or she will commence pre-deployment training in March, deploy in May, return in November and then avail of post-deployment special leave of 30 days, which is in addition to the three weeks' mission leave. The only time available to him or her to take annual leave would be in January, February or December. This is mitigated, however, by the provision to carry over 19 days' leave in these circumstances, as I stated earlier.

The fact that PDFORRA has been forced to embark on the legal proceedings to which the Minister of State refers is a scandal. There should be a settlement forthwith. Speaking of exploitation in the Defence Forces, the report to which I referred yesterday described the privates' quarters in Rathmines barracks as "Hotel Rwanda", with no hot water, broken urinals, and walls encrusted in damp. I welcome the fact that after ten years of campaigning and pressure, the Department has been forced to make changes. On "Drive Time" yesterday, however, the Minister of State suggested that anyone who joins the Irish Defence Forces does not feel they are going to get "five star". The men and women of the Defence Forces do not expect to be keeping up with the Kardashians. They do not expect five star treatment and never asked for it. They do expect accommodation which has hot water and proper toilets. I suggest that the Minister of State might cut down a bit on the glib throwaway remarks and put his energy instead into tackling scandals like this, which continue to flourish on his watch.

I am glad the Deputy was listening to me on "Drive Time" yesterday evening. He omitted to say that I doubled the budget last year for investment in barracks and specifically in areas of accommodation. I am very disappointed that he only heard what suited him and his negative talk about the Defence Forces of the last months. Not one member of the Defence Forces has ever come to me and raised accommodation or said they had no hot water or broken urinals or anything like that. I mix with these people on a weekly and monthly basis.

Is the Minister of State saying that there was hot water?

If the Deputy listens to me maybe------

The Minister of State did not wash his hands.

Not one of them ever approached me to say there was no hot water or broken urinals or damp on the walls or any of that. If they have an issue with their accommodation, they are welcome to address it to me. I am open and transparent and have no issue whatsoever.

It took ten years.

I am in this position for the past 12 months. I doubled the budget in that time. I do not think that is bad going.

Defence Forces Deployment

Mick Wallace


32. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of times the Defence Forces have been called on to perform aid to the civil power duties at Shannon Airport to date in 2017; his plans to make changes to the arrangements whereby the Defence Forces provide aid to the civil power at the airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32619/17]

Ireland, sadly, has been sponsoring the US war of terror and aggression in the Middle East, Afghanistan, northern Africa and beyond for 16 years now. Different Governments in that time have found it difficult to admit that we are complicit in what is happening. We cannot for one second say we are neutral any more, given that we are allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a US military base for the region in which they have caused untold destruction.

I thank the Deputy for his question. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has responsibility for the use of Shannon Airport by foreign military aircraft and for the granting of permission for overflights by foreign military aircraft. The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for the internal security of the State.

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 assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. The decision to seek support from the Defence Forces is an operational matter for An Garda Síochána. Security assessments are carried out by An Garda Síochána, which determines if Defence Force assistance is required. The number of times the Defence Forces have been called on to perform aid to the civil power duties at Shannon Airport to date in 2017 is 167. For security reasons it would not be appropriate to disclose the precise detail of such deployments. Since 5 February 2003, An Garda Síochána has requested support from the Defence Forces at Shannon Airport on occasion.

I have no plans to make changes to the current aid to the civil power arrangements as set out in the White Paper on Defence. I am satisfied that there is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces, and between my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality regarding security matters generally, including the Defence Forces aid to the civil power roles.

In March alone, US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have killed at least 1,400 civilians. A US airstrike levelled a residential area in Mosul, killing as many as 200 civilians. Imagine if this was Dublin - to kill 200 civilians and say it was a mistake. How in God's name can we continue to allow one of our airports be used to facilitate their war of aggression? This is one of the worst chapters in the history of mankind. It is horrific. Over 1 million Iraqis have died since 2003. Where is the rationale for it? We had people like Bush and Blair telling lies to organise the start of the war in the first place, and we agreed to let our airport be used. Can we not rethink this? I do not believe for a second that we would lose any US business if we said we did not want our airport used as a military base any more.

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has primary responsibility for overflights and landings of foreign military aircraft. This has been facilitated for 50 years or more. I presume that when the Deputy speaks about what has happened in Iraq and whatever is on board the planes, he is aware that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, has recently announced that his Department will conduct an internal review to identify the options available for updating various aspects of the order. I also understand that a public consultation is envisaged to ensure that any proposed changes are considered in an open and transparent manner. I presume that, when this is open to public consultation, the Deputy will make his comments available to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Although the review is welcome, it concerns civilian aircraft, as the Minister of State knows. His Defence Forces are going down to Shannon Airport and minding military aircraft that are not supposed to have any guns or munitions on board, for which we do not actually search. Is there any way that the Minister of State's Defence Forces could be used to make sure that those planes are keeping within international law? Up to ten military planes a week go through Shannon Airport. The notion that there are no guns or munitions on any of them beggars belief.

When he was in opposition, the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, asked how we could know what was on the planes if we did not search them. The Labour Party also wanted them searched when it was in opposition but when it went into government it did not want them searched any more.

Would the Minister of State not use his Defence Forces to start checking these planes? Let us keep them honest in one area.

That would be a matter for An Garda Síochána. We are called upon as aid to the civil power by An Garda Síochána when we are required to provide a service at Shannon Airport. As I have stated, we have provided a service on 167 occasions since 1 January 2017. It is not my area of responsibility. It is a matter for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has primary responsibility for overflights and landings of foreign military aircraft, and for An Garda Síochána after that.