An Garda Síochána has the primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP). In practice this means that they provide assistance to An Garda Síochána when requested by the Gardaí to do so. It is a decision for the Garda authorities alone whether they should call on the Defence Forces for assistance. In this regard, there is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding national security matters.
For obvious reasons I am not going to disclose operational matters related to the protection of national security. It is the case however that on-going protest action in and around Shannon Airport has meant that measures have to be put in place to protect this vital part of our transport infrastructure. Some of this protest action has, at times, potentially put lives at risk. In the circumstances, the Garda authorities make the decision on whether to call in the Defence Forces for assistance based on their assessment of the threat posed to Shannon Airport and for the protection of passengers, staff and others in and around the airport.