The roles of the Defence Forces as assigned by Government are set out in the White Paper on Defence which was published in February 2000. To aid the civil power — meaning in practice to assist, when requested, the Garda Síochána which has the primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State — is among the assigned roles. The Defence Forces, pursuant to their role of rendering aid to the civil power, assist the Garda as required in duties which include the escorts of cash in transit. Each cash escort would include deliveries to banks, post offices and other institutions.
Statistical records compiled by my Department do not differentiate between banks, post offices and other institutions.
The number of requests for cash escorts received by the military authorities from the Garda Síochána for the years 1999 to 2003 was as follows: 1999, 2,161; 2000, 2,285; 2001, 2,488; 2002, 2,516; 2003, 2,298.
The total cost in respect of the provision by the Defence Forces of assistance to the Garda Síochána in protecting movements of cash for the years 1999 to 2002 — the 2003 costs have not yet been finalised — including pay, allowances, transport, aerial surveillance and administration charge, was as follows: 1999, €5.68m; 2000, €5.99m; 2001, €6.58; 2002, €6.87m.
Part of these costs is recouped from the banks through an annual contribution. A sum of €2.86 million has been refunded by the banks to my Department each year since 1995. The contribution from the banks is designed to part cover the total costs to the State of providing cash escorts. An annual contribution is also made to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in respect of the Garda Síochána. However, in the case of the Defence Forces, the contribution by the banks has generally covered the non-pay costs of providing such escorts. The matter is reviewed on an ongoing basis in my Department.