My priority as Minister for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.
The resources available to the Defence Forces to carry out their operational commitments are kept under constant review and future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process.
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. The Defence Forces retains a wide range of specialist skills which can be deployed in such circumstances.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. The full spectrum of Defence Forces personnel and equipment are available for deployment in response to any security and other emergencies that may arise. Within the Defence Forces, both the Ordnance Corps and the Army Ranger Wing specialise in providing an immediate response to emergency incidents that might require their highly specialised capabilities. The Ordnance Corps consists of a number of Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams which are on stand-by 24/7 to respond when a request for assistance is received from An Garda Síochána to deal with suspect devices. The Army Ranger Wing is an integral unit of the Defence Forces whose roles include provision of specialist ATCP support to An Garda Síochána. The need for a high level of preparedness to deal with any requests for Special Forces operations is inherent in the unit’s mission. Members are trained to the highest levels of motivation, physical fitness and skill at arms for their specialist role. The ARW is on stand-by 24/7 to be called upon to undertake duties in any part of the country. I can confirm that the Defence Forces keep their operational plans and response capabilities for dealing with a wide range of threats under constant review.