Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 169 - Search and rescue service [49033/12].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 169 - Search and rescue service [49033/12]. (07 Nov 2012)

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169. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if he is satisfied that air sea rescue services at Navy and Air Corps level continue to be adequately staffed and funded in view of the extent of coastline and the need to combat drug or people trafficking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49033/12] 

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Irish Coast Guard has overall responsibility for the provision of search and rescue services within the Irish search and rescue region and the responsibility for the prevention of drug-trafficking and people trafficking rests primarily with the Revenue Commissioners and An Garda Síochána respectively. However, the White Paper on Defence provides a role for the Naval Service and the Air Corps to assist and support the civil authorities in this work. In this regard, the Air Corps and the Naval Service provide support to these agencies as the need arises and within their available capabilities. A Service Level Agreement is in place with the Irish Coast Guard which sets out the search and rescue assistance that the Air Corps and Naval Service can provide to the Coast Guard. The provision of onshore assistance by Air Corps helicopters for mountain rescue operations is covered in the agreement as is the fixed wing top cover by the Air Corps Casa aircraft to Coast Guard helicopters offshore. Assistance that is provided by the Naval Service to the Coast Guard during maritime search and rescue and recovery operations is also included in the Service Level Agreement.

Government measures to improve law enforcement in relation to drugs, including the establishment in 1993 of a Joint Task Force involving An Garda Síochána, the Customs Service and the Naval Service, have helped to maximise the effective use of Naval Service resources in combating drug trafficking. The Air Corps provide air support and, on occasion, carry the Customs National Drugs Team in an observational capacity for the purpose of monitoring vessels suspected of drug trafficking and other illegal activities. There is close co-operation between the civil authorities and the Naval Service and the Air Corps in discharging this important mission.
Furthermore, Ireland along with other EU Member States participate in the EU Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N). This Centre has led to a greater focus on intelligence exchange amongst countries to tackle large drug shipments by sea. MAOC-N was set up by seven European countries and is designed as an international co-ordination force.
Naval Service vessels are multi-tasked in the sense that they also undertake general surveillance, security and other duties while on fishery patrol. The Air Corps Maritime Squadron carries out aerial surveillance of territorial waters using the two CASA maritime patrol aircraft. These aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and communication equipment which offers aerial assistance to the Naval Service in patrolling the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone.
In relation to maritime surveillance generally, an Inter-Departmental Maritime Surveillance Working Group, chaired by the Department of Transport, was established under the auspices of the Marine Co-ordination Group. The Group is working towards the creation of a common information-sharing environment to enhance safety and security within the Irish maritime domain.
I am satisfied that both the Air Corps and Naval Service have the necessary resources to meet their operational requirements in these important areas.
Written Answers - Search and Rescue Service
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
7 November 2012

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