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Defence | Protection of submarine communication networks

To ask the Minister for Defence the extent to which any further embellishments can be made to protect Irish offshore, underwater or other telecommunication facilities with particular reference to the need to damage, deliberate or otherwise; if the necessary resources continue to be available to Ireland’s Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Deputy will appreciate that, for sound reasons, it is not the practice to comment on the security infrastructure in place for undersea cables nor would it be in the public interest to do so.

The Naval Service, as the State’s principal sea-going agency, is tasked with a variety of defence and other roles. While the main daily tasking of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with our obligations as a member of the EU, it also carries out a number of other non-fishery related tasks in tandem with maritime surveillance.  

The Air Corps Maritime Patrol Squadron also supports this role providing aerial assistance to the Naval Service in patrolling the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) using the two CASA CN 235 maritime patrol aircraft which are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and communication equipment.

Following an extraordinary EU Energy Council meeting in September which discussed the EU’s energy security in response to the attacks on Nordstream 1 and 2, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications sought support from my Department in relation to additional measures that could be put in place by the Defence Forces to ensure that critical off-shore infrastructure including data cables are protected.

The Department of Defence and the Defence Forces continue to engage with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications in relation to the protection of Ireland’s offshore energy infrastructure and data cables. While the Defence Forces have limited sub-sea capabilities, enhanced maritime patrolling of the Irish Sea in the vicinity of priority offshore energy infrastructure has commenced. The enhanced patrolling is being conducted by a mixture of air and naval platforms. However, it would not be appropriate to comment on any specific operational measures.

The Naval Service retains certain capabilities that allow for underwater search and surveying i.e. an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and a Magnetometer system.  As part of the ongoing development of capabilities, further capabilities that will enhance the Naval Service’s under-sea situational awareness, such as multi-beam echo sounder systems are also being developed.
The Naval Service has no unilateral powers of enforcement in relation to damage, criminal or otherwise, to undersea cables or other communication links in Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

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