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.