Dáil Questions – Defence – White Paper on Defence

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Dáil Issues, Defence, Oral Questions

To ask the Minister for Defence if he is satisfied with existing arrangements between his Department and the Department of Justice and Equality, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade regarding the presence of foreign military aircraft on Irish territory; if he has had discussions with these Departments to recommend a more active role for Defence Forces personnel in relation to protecting our neutrality; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Ref No: 34754/15 Lottery: 3 Proof: 31

In accordance with the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952, primary responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft in Ireland rests with my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade. Pursuant to this legislation, permission is required for foreign military aircraft to overfly Ireland or to land at Irish airports. The arrangements that are in place for seeking such permission are a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, but I understand that these include a provision that such requests must be submitted to his Department by the Embassy of the country in question.

Primary responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána. There is ongoing and close liaison between my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality and between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters, including Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) deployments. One of the roles assigned to the Defence Forces is the provision of ATCP which, in practice, means to assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. This role was affirmed by the Government in the recently published new White Paper on Defence.

In the development of the new White Paper, discussions were held with a range of other Government Departments and agencies on significant cross-cutting policy issues. This process of consultation did not result in any impetus to make changes to the arrangements that have been in place since 2003 when the Defence Forces were first deployed to Shannon Airport at the request of An Garda Síochána.

In relation to recommending a more active role for the Defence Forces in protecting our neutrality, I wish to stress that the use of Shannon Airport by foreign military aircraft is not incompatible with our neutrality. Successive Governments have made overflight and landing facilities available at Shannon Airport for well over 50 years and this is fully consistent with Ireland’s obligations under successive Resolutions of the UN Security Council.

I am satisfied with the existing arrangements in place and I have no plans to recommend a more active role for the Defence Forces.
Simon Coveney, T.D.
Minister for Defence

To ask the Minister for Defence if he has followed the recent discussions in the Australian and British parliament in relation to the impact of Lariam, on the mental health of defence forces personnel; the action he proposes to take as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

For PRIORITY answer on Thursday, 8th October, 2015.

Ref No: 34755/15 Lottery: 5 Proof: 33


As the Deputy will be aware, Malaria is a very serious disease. It kills approximately 1 million people per year in sub-Saharan Africa alone. It is a grave threat to any military force operating in that area. The Department of Defence, with the Defence Forces monitors developments in relation to Lariam.

I am aware of international discussions which are ongoing in other jurisdictions in relation to the continued use of Lariam by various armed forces. While I have noted the content of these discussions, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on another armed forces’ policy in this regard.

As I have already indicated to the House, the choice of medication for overseas deployment, including the use of Lariam, is a medical decision made by Medical Officers in the Defence Forces, having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual member of the Defence Forces. Significant precautions are taken by the Defence Forces Medical Officers in assessing the medical suitability of members of the Defence Forces to take any of the anti-malarial medications. It is the policy of the Defence Forces that personnel are individually screened for fitness for service overseas and medical suitability, i.e. a medical risk assessment for Lariam is carried out on an individual basis. The Defence Forces policy in relation to the use of anti-malarial medication is in line with current Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) approved summary of product characteristics (SmPC).

In my earlier answer I referred to the 2013 report of the working group established to examine the use of Lariam and other anti-malarial drugs in the Defence Forces. Since production of that Report, members of the working group have continued to monitor developments in the area of malaria chemoprophylaxis. My Department has recently re-convened the Working Group to formally review developments since the production of its report and I expect to receive an updated report later this year.

The Deputy can be assured that the health, welfare and safety of Defence Forces personnel is a priority for me and the Defence Forces. The Summary of Product Characteristics for Lariam sets out the contraindications, special warnings and precautions for use and the range of potential side effects of the medication. That is why the significant precautions I have outlined are taken in prescribing the medication to ensure, as far as possible, that members of the Defence Forces suffer no adverse reaction to the medication.

In relation to the general mental health and welfare of members of the Defence Forces, t here is a wide range of supports available, including access to Medical, Psychiatric, Psychological, Social and Personnel Support Services. In addition, there is a 24 hour confidential support helpline available to all Defence Force personnel.

Malaria is a very serious disease and anti-malarial medications must remain in the formulary of medications prescribed by the Medical Corps for Defence Forces personnel on appropriate overseas missions, to ensure that our military personnel can have effective protection from the very serious risks posed by this highly dangerous disease.
Simon Coveney, T.D.,
Minister for Defence

To ask the Minister for Defence his plans to provide the international defence industry with increased access to the Irish Defence Forces for product testing, particularly in view of their inability to co ntrol where the weapons appear.



In July 2011, the Government approved arrangements, whereby Enterprise Ireland (EI) would

support the Department of Defence and Defence Forces capability development through engagement with Irish-based enterprise and research institutes on the use and application of innovative civilian technologies in the military sphere. At the time of the decision, the Defence Forces were already engaged with Irish enterprise and various consortia in support of rese arch on a range of capabilities. This engagement included EU funded research projects under framework 7 and Horizon 2020 and projects being undertaken within the framework of the European Defence Agency. The Government decision allowed for greater engagement with Enterprise Ireland (EI) and EI supported companies which could contribute to Defence Forces capabilities across the full range of its activities.

Subject to the provisions of the Defence (Miscellaneous Provisions Act) 2009, the Defence Forces also participate in relevant capability development projects at European level under the umbrella of the European Defence Agency. Enterprise Ireland also support Irish based enterprise and research institutes in accessing research opportunities in the European Defence Agency.

Through the Irish Mari time Energy and Resource Cluster (IMERC), which is a partnership of the Naval Service, University College Cor k, and Cork Institute of Technology, the Naval Service has been involved in various initiatives with Enterprise Ireland within its capability requirements sphere . Essentially these are dual use projects where the technologies have application in both the civil and military field.
The Defence Forces are a military force. Given the nature of their role on robust overseas operations, they need access to the latest communications and surveillance technologies and weapons systems in order to carry out their duties safely and effectively. This means having weapons guidance systems, simulators, surveillance systems, communicat ions, robots and drones along wi th all the other elements of force protection.

I can confirm that t here are no proposals to support the development of an armaments industry in Ireland. However, there are opportunities to develop new technologies and to further develop and enhance existing systems and capabilities which will have dual military and civil application through engagement between Irish enterprise and research centres and the Defence Forces. The aim is to maximise synergies across both the civil and military domains and to develop leading edge technology and systems here in Ireland.


To ask the Minister for Defence the partners of Defence Forces consortium bids for Horizon 2020; the criteria in deciding who to partner, and the types of projects to become involved with, and to assure the Houses of the Oireachtas, that there is no participation in any consortium involving Israeli companies or partners, in view of their appalling record on weapons testing, and their use against Palestinians.




As I have previously stated to the House, there is an ongoing requirement to examine new and

innovative means of improving capabilities in the security and the defence domain, so that the Defence Forces are in a position to undertake the roles assigned by Government. The capabilities being researched and developed by the Defence Forces in cooperation with research companies and institutions are wide ranging. They cover capabilities such as Maritime Surveillance; Energy Conservation; Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) research including CBRN Protection, and Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) detection and destruction. Such capabilities may be used at home and also abroad on crisis management missions and operations including humanitarian and peace-keeping missions.

Horizon 2020 is an EU Research and Innovation Programme with approximately €80 billion in funding to be available over 7 years (from 2014 to 2020). The programme is seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs and is open to everyone.

Projects proposed by institutes and companies, where they are seeking to partner with, or involve, Defence Forces participation are submitted to the Defence Enterprise Committee for consideration. The Defence Enterprise Committee consists of personnel from the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces and Enterprise Ireland. All capabilities to be researched are vetted and agreed at the highest level in the Defence Organisation to ensure compatibility with the roles assigned to the Defence Forces by the Government.

In 2014 the Defence Forces were involved in three separate Horizon 2020 project proposals. Although the projects were unsuccessful the Defence Forces gained a great insight into the workings of H2020, and opened the doors to a network of contacts, which will allow others to realise the expertise and skill that is within the Defence Forces.

This year the Defence Forces are involved in 8 proposals. The proposals cover topics such as CBRN, protection of critical infrastructure, and Maritime Border Security. Whether any of these proposals will be successful in their bid for H2020 will not be known until January 2016. You will appreciate that due to the fact that no decision has been made on the applications for funding and the sensitive nature of this research, I am unable to release the names of those in the consortia. While Israel has the same access to the Horizon 2020 programme as EU Member States and other Associated Countries, my Department is not aware of any involvement of Israeli companies or partners on any of the current consortia in which the Defence Forces are involved.


PQ 34265/15

To ask the Minister for Defence if he will publish the records maintained by the Air Corps in relation to the numbers and types of US military aircraft that were given permission to land at Casement Aerodrome from 2001 and in 2015 to date; and the reason for these permissions.




The number of US military aircraft that were given permission to land at Casement Aerodrome in each year from 2001 to 2015 (to date) is contained in the tabular statement below:

2015 (to date)

Permission was granted for the purpose of transporting dignitaries or high-level officials participating in visits to Ireland, aircraft refuelling, crew training and airport familiarisation.


PQ 34261/15


To ask the Minister for Defence his views in relation to the consideration was given to the contradiction between Ireland’s traditional position of neutrality and the new Defence Forces strategy as outlined in the White Paper; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Clare Daly.



I presume that the Deputy is referring to the strategy of deepening Ireland’s relationships with the

European Union on Common Security and Defence Policy, and with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which is not in any way contradictory with Ireland’s traditional position of neutrality.

As the White Paper notes, the threats to international peace and national security are complex, multi-dimensional, interrelated and transnational in nature. A feature of Ireland’s policy response to these security challenges is continued strong support for the multilateral system of collective security represented by the UN and of the primary role of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security. In recent years, the UN has increasingly mandated regional organisations such as the EU, the African Union and NATO to manage operations on its behalf and under its authority.

Ireland’s traditional policy on military neutrality remains completely unaffected by deepening our relationship with the EU or by our support of, or participation in, CSDP operations with military elements. In keeping with our support for the multilateral system of collective security, Ireland will continue to play a full and active part in all facets of the EU’s CSDP in accordance with nationally determined values and principles. A key objective in the continued development of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy is the ability to respond rapidly to emerging crises. The EU, quite rightly, now engages in a wide range of crisis management operations, invariably in support of or in partnership with the UN. These actions, referred to as the Petersberg tasks, are humanitarian and rescue tasks, peace-keeping tasks and the tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking, joint disarmament operations, military advice and assistance tasks in supporting the reform and restructuring of security services and legal institutions in fragile States, conflict prevention and post-conflict stabilisation. Ireland will continue to play a full and active role in this regard.

Similarly, close cooperation between NATO and the UN and its agencies is another important element in the development of an international “Comprehensive Approach” to crisis management and operations. Ireland’s participation in NATO-led operations such as the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the NATO-led KFOR Mission in Kosovo in no way infringes upon our traditional policy of military neutrality. These are operations authorised by successive UN Security Council resolutions, undertaken at the UN’s behest and very often working congruently with a UN mission.

As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland’s cooperation with NATO is conducted through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) which we joined in 1999 following approval by Dáil Éireann of the Presentation Document. Our purpose in participating in the PfP is to improve our military capabilities so as to ensure that our Defence Forces have the necessary interoperable capabilities to participate effectively and safely with other like minded nations in UN mandated operations.

As the White Paper notes, this will include engagement with the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI), the Planning and Review Process (PARP), and the Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC).

In joining PfP, Ireland, in common with other PfP nations, reaffirmed its commitment to fulfil in good faith the obligations of the United Nations Charter, and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Equally, Ireland reaffirmed its commitment to the Helsinki Final Act and all subsequent documents of the OSCE. Ireland’s decision to participate in PfP is in full accordance with Ireland’s policy of military neutrality and it is worth noting that many other like-minded States, in particular Austria, Switzerland, Malta, Sweden and Finland also participate in PfP.

Ireland will continue to engage proactively with the UN, the EU, the OSCE and NATO/PfP and other states with a view to developing and deepening relationships in the development of an international approach to crisis management and operations, without prejudice to our policy of military neutrality.


PQ No: 34264/15


To ask the Minister for Defence the reason the Defence Forces personnel were in contact with a controversial Italian surveillance company (details supplied); the extent of the contact; and by whom it was authorised.


A core role of the Defence Forces is to contribute to the security of the State. Military intelligence contribute assessments in respect of state security and the safety and security of the Defence Forces’ personnel deployed overseas on peace support operations and liaises with An Garda Síochána as appropriate in relation to matters of common concern.

In relation to cyber security, the primary focus of the Defence Forces is the protection of military networks. The Defence Forces are also assisting in the national response on cyber security, working under the leadership of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

In order to deliver effectively on behalf of the State in this regard, the Defence Forces are required to develop and maintain the necessary capabilities. It is not appropriate for operational security reasons to divulge the details of how these capabilities are developed and maintained.
I can confirm, however, that no services were purchased by the Defence Forces from the company in question.
Simon Coveney, T.D.
Minister for Defence