Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ceisteanna (40, 41)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

40. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to introduce a new Army barracks in Counties Cavan and Monaghan or the greater Border region in view of Brexit and the possible reintroduction of a hard border; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10198/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

41. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans for the reinstatement of troops in the Border counties in view of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10199/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Oral answers (2 contributions) (Ceist ar Defence)

Does the Minister of State have plans to reintroduce an Army barracks in County Cavan or County Monaghan or in the wider Border region in view of Brexit?

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 41 together. As part of a whole of Government approach, my Department is engaged in forward planning with the other Departments involved in addressing all issues relevant to the UK decision to leave the European Union. The progress made as part of the first phase of the Brexit negotiations offers encouragement in relation to Border issues whereby a significant commitment has been made to avoid a hard border.

Of itself, the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union does not give rise to additional Border control requirements at this time. Therefore, there is no reason to revisit earlier decisions on the closure of barracks. The closures enhanced the operational readiness and deployability of Defence Forces personnel and, with other measures, involved the redeployment of personnel from barracks, headquarters and administrative posts to front-line operational units. This has improved the effectiveness of the Defence Forces without in any way reducing the quality of the military contribution. In that regard, as I have outlined previously, it is, of course, important to note that 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 aspects of Border control rests with An Garda Síochána, while the Revenue Commissioners also have responsibilities related to their particular mandate.

Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of aid for the civil power which, in practice, means providing assistance and support for An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. The Defence Forces also provide support for the Revenue Commissioners, again, when requested to do so. There is ongoing close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces on security matters and regular co-ordination and liaison meetings take place. My Department will, of course, continue to monitor the ongoing situation to ensure that both it and the Defence Forces are fully prepared to address potential issues that might arise in the area of defence as a consequence of Brexit.