Thursday, 10 May 2018

Ceisteanna (64)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

64. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which discussions continue to take place at EU level with a view to assuring a high degree of preparedness in the event of a terrorist attack; if the Defence Forces continue to be adequately briefed in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20731/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

At Ministerial level there is ongoing contact as required with EU colleagues both in the context of European Defence and Security and other matters. In addition to these bilateral contacts, two official meetings of EU Defence Ministers are held during each six month EU Presidency. The most recent informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers took place in Sofia on 05 May 2018. Discussions at the meeting covered a wide range of European Defence and Security issues and associated challenges.

As part of the Informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers in September, on 07 September 2017 there was an EU Table-top Cyber Exercise. The exercise, based on a fictional cyber attack against an EU CSDP Mission Operational Headquarters, focussed on EU level responses to a cyber and hybrid threat to a CSDP operation. The purpose of the table-top exercise was to raise strategic situational awareness at the political level and improve understanding of the EU's crisis response mechanisms and the importance of coordinated strategic communication.

In relation to international terrorism issues at EU level, this is primarily a matter for Justice and Interior Ministers under the Justice and Home Affairs umbrella. Within this State, primary responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána.

Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) which, in practice, means to provide assistance and support to An Garda Síochána when requested to do so.

There is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters, including ATCP deployments and a wide variety of military training activities are specifically designed to counter or respond to possible security emergencies. Regular coordination and liaison meetings also take place between the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána in relation to ATCP issues.