Public asked for views on Ireland's first national security strategy

Public asked for views on Ireland's first national security strategy
Climate change is one of the trends considered a potential threat to national security, along with more traditional interpreations.

The public is being asked for its views in the drafting of the country's first national security strategy.

The development of the strategy is part of a major restructuring of Ireland's intelligence infrastructure, a key recommendation of the Policing Commission, published in September 2018.

The strategy is led by the National Security Analysis Centre, a new government unit within the Department of the Taoiseach.

NSAC is a central government unit that will gather intelligence and security work conducted by operational agencies, coordinate their efforts and provide analysis and advice to the Taoiseach and the Government.

The centre, which is in its infancy, was a key recommendation of the Future of Policing in Ireland Commission and is part of a range of proposals made, which are being implemented by the Government.

Dermot Woods was appointed as the director of the centre last July, at the rank of assistant secretary. He had ten years' experience in the Security and Northern Ireland Division of the Department of Justice and was head of it for the last five years.

The consultation wants people to give their views on national security “concerns, goals, strategy and capacity”, with a closing date of December 31.

The consultation said the strategy will be a “whole of Government approach” on how the State can “protect its national security and vital interests” from current and emerging threats over the period 2020-2025.

“Like many other states, the security environment that Ireland now faces is broad and changing,” said the NSAC.

“Traditional threats from terrorism, for example, remain a concern while newer threats such as those arising in the cyber environment or from a changing geo-political landscape will present new challenges.”

It said that while certain government agencies and departments have a central responsibility to protect the State, other government and non-government services and bodies may increasingly have a role.

“The purpose of this consultation is to hear a range of views from the public regarding national security issues, including the nature of the threats that Ireland faces, how they may impact on Ireland and the approaches that might be adopted to address them,” it said.

'Massive cultural change'

It poses four questions to people: what are the principal threats facing Ireland's national security; what strategic goals should Ireland set in this area; what traditional national security policies and approaches remain relevant; what strategic capabilities will the State need.

Gerry Waldron of Slándáil, a national security educational body, said the development of a State National Security Strategy is a “massive cultural change” for Ireland and welcomed the decision by Mr Woods to put out a public consultation to engage with people.

“This is putting national security on the radar of people and politicians, an area that is traditionally kept within a small corps of people,” said Mr Waldron, a retired Defence Forces' officer.

He is part of a voluntary group aimed at promoting education and debate on the area and is hosting a two day National Security Summit next February.

Mr Waldron said the National Security Strategy needs to outline the “global, regional and national context” that Ireland finds itself in and define our interests and develop a whole of government approach.

“A number of global mega-trends such as climate change and disruptive technologies and the potential threats associated with them will need to be considered alongside more traditional trends, such as inter and intra state conflict and transnational and domestic terrorism,” he said.


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