Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 160 - Defence forces operations [5985/14].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 160 - Defence forces operations [5985/14]. (06 Feb 2014)

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160. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if sufficient resources are available to the Air Corps and Naval services to provide sufficient surveillance to prevent drug trafficking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5985/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): I am satisfied that both the Air Corps and Naval Service have the necessary resources to meet their operational requirements in this important area.

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 these missions.
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.

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