Defence Forces could not cope with ‘continual’ terrorism

Comdt Earnán Naughton expresses concern at ability of forces to respond to attacks

Defence Forces officers have expressed concern at the ability of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps to respond if there was a terrorist attack in the State.

The organisation representing commissioned officers, Raco, said the Defence Forces would not be able to cope with international terrorism "on a continual basis".

Raco general secretary Comdt Earnán Naughton said he believes that the events in Paris last weekend had "brought home" the urgent need to invest in counter-terrorism equipment and fill key vacancies arising from a current military "brain drain".

“What I would say is that if a Paris-style situation developed here we would be able to address it,” Comdt Naughton said at Raco’s annual conference in Naas, Co Kildare.


“But have we got the capacity for ongoing incidents if they were of a frequent nature? It’s about capacity and the skillsets to provide at the right point in time.”

Asked if the Defence Forces could deal with an ongoing fight against terrorism such as that underway in France, he said: "Not on a continual basis."

“What happened in Paris really brought home to us how close and how vulnerable society can be.

“You have to be able to deploy robustly, fit for purpose and highly-specialised forces.”

White Paper

He said the White Paper had identified areas for development such as radar to identify aircraft in Irish airspace and an air interdiction capability.

Comdt Naughton said that delays in providing for those recommendations now needed to be addressed.

“We would have concerns; when you look at the threats that were clearly identified and then delaying the resourcing in addressing those threats, why delay?

“We have seen what has happened recently in Paris. If the threat is identified, capabilities must then be developed and resourced. If it’s a threat, you must address it.

“I think Paris is an example of the threats that are within close range of our people and our borders.”

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney and Defence Forces chief of staff Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett were both due to address delegates this evening.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times