Department of Defence - Press Releases
Department of Defence - Speeches
Ireland has a very large sea area, which is 10 times the size of our land mass. Indeed, if our sea territory was counted in addition to our land mass, Ireland would be one of the largest countries of the European Union. Ireland is also a very significant trading nation with a very open economy, reliant on safe and secure sea-lanes for trade and goods. This raises very particular security challenges, not alone in terms of Irelandís responsibilities and obligations as a member of the Union at the forefront of the EUís maritime borders, but also in terms of countering inappropriate or illegal use of our waters by organised crime in drug and people trafficking which impacts directly on our citizens security.The purpose of this seminar is to raise awareness of the role that maritime surveillance and security can play as an economic enabler right across the Union, contributing to the European Union Jobs, Growth and Innovation strategy. It is also designed to raise awareness and identify approaches to support Europeís security needs in countering criminal activity occurring in its maritime environment and in the international sea-lanes which are essential to the maintenance of the Unionís international trade.The Unionís maritime domain faces many threats and challenges that have the potential to adversely impact on the security and safety of the Union as a whole, both for its citizens and its economy. The threats to the security of the Union include, amongst others, illegal immigration, terrorism, piracy and drug trafficking. None of these threats can be addressed by individual Member States and addressing this reality is a key focus of todayís seminar.As the sea is an open environment, threats related to safety and security cannot be dealt with by individual Member States acting alone, but require the combined efforts of all Member States and a wide range of State actors. The combined efforts of the Naval Services, Coastguards, Border Officials, Policing, Customs, Fisheries Control and Environmental Agencies of the Member States will be required to respond effectively to threats such as piracy, drugs smuggling, human trafficking, illegal migration, organised crime, trafficking of illicit materials, illegal fishing and dumping at sea.
Protecting trade, and indeed protecting the ďblue economyĒ which has the potential to provide much needed jobs in, for example, the offshore renewable energy sector, research and technology, and in the biomedical and pharmaceutical area, is a priority.
The difficulty is that at National level, Maritime Security is different in every Member State of the European Union. Therefore, to achieve a whole of European Union approach to maritime security will be challenging, and will require sustained political will.
It is encouraging to see a Government minister finally recognising that we live on an island surrounded by water.
One wonders will these words be followed up with actions, even better, spending on assets to coordinate security of our own maritime borders? As yet another oil explorer announces encouraging survey results in a celtic sea oil field, extraction now seems inevitable. Security of these offshore assets will become a higher priority.