Thursday, 11 April 2019

Ceisteanna (32)

Niamh Smyth


32. 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. [16650/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

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. This engagement involves the identification of key strategic, operational and policy issues arising from Brexit.

As I have outlined previously, the UK's decision to leave the EU does not of itself give rise to additional border control requirements. Furthermore, the avoidance of a hard border on the island is fundamental to the Withdrawal Agreement reached last November between the EU and the UK Government, and there can be no change to the commitments made in that Agreement. While the UK Government has so far been unable to secure parliamentary approval for the Agreement, the EU has been very clear that the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, will not be reopened. The Government is not preparing for a hard border and Ireland and the EU are at one on this. As such, there are no plans for further troop deployments to border counties.  

Furthermore, it is 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 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.