Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 23. Naval Service operations [6873/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 23. Naval Service operations [6873/15]. (18 Feb 2015)

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23. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence, the role the Naval Service plays in the joint task force on drug interdiction; if there are formal agreements with similar foreign or other naval services; and the amount, financially or otherwise, his Department contributes to this task force. [6873/15]


Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Responsibility for the prevention of drug trafficking rests primarily with the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners. Responsibility for the prevention of crime rests primarily with An Garda Síochána. However, the White Paper on Defence (2000) provides for a security role for the Naval Service and the Air Corps to assist and support the civil authorities in this important work. The Joint Task Force on Drug Interdiction was established in 1993 as a Government measure to improve law enforcement in relation to drugs and consists of members of An Garda Síochána, the Customs Service and the Naval Service.


While there is no direct financial contribution to the Task Force, the Defence Forces make a significant contribution to its work. Drug interdiction is carried out by Naval ships on receipt of intelligence from the Joint Task Force. The Air Corps provides air support and on occasion carries the Customs National Drugs Team in an observational capacity for the purposes of monitoring vessels suspected of drug trafficking.


Internationally, the establishment in 2007 of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) 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 with access to national tasking agencies and requires participation and resources from all active members. An Garda Síochána and the Customs Service have full-time officers based at the Centre in Lisbon. Irish Naval Service personnel travel to the Centre when requested by the Joint Task Force.


The value of this cooperation both nationally and internationally in tackling large drug shipments at sea was highlighted in September last when an operation by members of the Task Force, supported by the EU Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre for Narcotics and other agencies, resulted in a highly successful drug interdiction operation off the south west coast.

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