I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together.
As part of a whole of Government approach, my Department continues to engage in forward planning with the other Departments involved in addressing all issues relevant to the UK's decision to leave the European Union. On 9th July last, the Government published the Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update. This reflects the extensive work which has taken place at EU level and on a whole-of-Government basis, including the Brexit Omnibus Act 2019, to prepare for a no deal Brexit. It sets out the next steps to be taken between now and 31st October.
While the UK's decision to leave the EU does not of itself give rise to additional border control requirements, it remains the Government’s view that the best way to protect the Good Friday Agreement and avoid a hard border is for the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, to be ratified.
The Government remains committed to the avoidance of a hard border and Ireland and the EU are at one on this. The Government is working closely with the European Commission to meet the shared twin objectives of protecting the Single Market and Ireland’s place in it, and protecting the Good Friday Agreement, including avoiding physical infrastructure at the border. This work is looking at necessary checks to preserve Ireland’s full participation in the Single Market and Customs Union.
In terms of deployment of military personnel to the border, as I have said in the past, primary responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Minister for Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána. Accordingly, responsibility for the security aspect of border control rests with An Garda Síochána, while the Revenue Commissioners also have responsibilities relating to their particular mandate.
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 provide assistance and support to An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. The Defence Forces also provide support to the Revenue Commissioners, again, when requested to do so.
There is ongoing close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters and regular coordination and liaison meetings take place. My Department continues to monitor the ongoing situation to ensure that both it and the Defence Forces are fully prepared to address any potential issues that might arise in the defence area as a consequence of Brexit.