Written Answers. - Navy Powers.

Paul Bradford

Ceist:

28 Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Defence if he has considered granting powers to Irish naval officers to intercept and detain vessels in suspicious circumstances.

Personnel of the Naval Service are empowered under the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959 to board, search and detain fishing vessels suspected of illegal fishing activity.

The Naval Service also respond to requests from the civil authorities for assistance, including assistance in combatting the illegal importation of drugs and other materials, and they will continue to do so.

The Department of Justice, as the agency with primary responsibility for law and order, is formulating proposals designed to secure the best arrangements for achieving a cohesive and co-ordinated response to the drug trafficking problem by existing law enforcement agencies. The question of whether legislative changes are necessary is being examined by the Department of Justice as part of the exercise. Any proposals for change which may arise from this examination will be carefully considered.