Directorate of Intelligence (Ireland)
Stiúrthóireacht na Faisnéise
G2 Headquarters in Newbridge, County Kildare
|Formed||October 1, 1924|
|Jurisdiction||Government of Ireland|
|Headquarters||Station Road, Newbridge, County Kildare
|Employees||Classified (estimated 200-300)|
|Annual budget||Classified (part of Defence Forces budget, €896.8 million in 2014)|
|Minister responsible||Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Defence|
|Deputy Minister responsible||Paul Kehoe, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Defence|
|Agency executive||Lieutenant General Conor O'Boyle, Chief of Staff of Defence Forces Ireland|
|Parent agency||Defence Forces|
The Directorate of Intelligence (G2) (Irish: Stiúrthóireacht na Faisnéise) is the national intelligence agency of Ireland, a military intelligence branch of the Defence Forces, the Irish armed forces. The organisation has responsibility for Ireland's national security, and operates domestic intelligence and foreign intelligence sections. The G2 comprises the National Security Intelligence Section and Defence Intelligence Section, and includes staff from the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps. The Irish military special operations forces, the Army Ranger Wing (ARW), carries out physical tasks on behalf of the Directorate of Intelligence in Ireland and overseas, and the agency works closely with the Garda Síochána Special Detective Unit (SDU), the national police counter-terrorism and counter-espionage unit. The Irish G2 is based in Newbridge, County Kildare.
Mission and organisation
The duties of the Defence Forces Directorate of Intelligence are;
- The provision of security and intelligence in relation to the state and its national interests, both domestic and foreign, and;
- To provide operational intelligence and security to deployed Irish forces globally.
The Directorate of Intelligence staffs members drawn from the Defence Forces (Army, Naval Service and Air Corps), who then serve on a full-time basis with the agency. G2 personnel regularly train, liaise and deploy with foreign intelligence, government and non-government agencies to share knowledge and best practice. This ensures they keep abreast of threats and are able to collate essential intelligence to further protect the state, the Defence Forces and its interests. The service is under the command of a Colonel, known as the Director of Intelligence, who provides regular intelligence briefings to the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces and the Secretary General of the Department of Defence, and a monthly intelligence briefing in-person to the Minster for Defence. The Chief of Staff briefs the government cabinet on matters of state security, as well as the National Security Committee (NSC). Although the organisation's number of employees and budget are classified, it is estimated there are between 200 and 300 permanent personnel in the unit, with a further 200 operatives in the Army Ranger Wing (ARW), who conduct missions at the behest of G2. The funding comes from the overall Department of Defence budget (€1.16 billion in 2012). The only publicly known funding is that for the budget to pay confidential informants, through the "Secret Service" budget, which is shared with the Garda Crime & Security Branch (CSB). In 2014, this figure was €1 million. Operatives from the G2 carry firearms on operations both at home and abroad, and those in the Directorate do not wear uniform. The Garda Special Detective Unit (SDU) works closely with G2 on domestic matters. The G2 operates out of a number of locations in Dublin and County Kildare, and their Headquarters are based at the Department of Defence complex in Newbridge, County Kildare, which is rumoured to house sophisticated modern technology for espionage. The building was completed in 2010 after a number of years of construction, at a cost of €30 million.
National Security Intelligence Section
The Directorate of Intelligence National Security Intelligence Section (NSIS) deals with threats to the Irish state and Defence Forces in general. These includes identifying, monitoring and assessing possible threats to the state and Irish national interests, be it by hostile intelligence services, terrorist groups and/or criminal organisations. Counter-intelligence forms a large part of the section's remit, in addition to fulfilling counter-terrorist, counter-subversion, counter-insurgency, counter-sabotage and physical security roles. The G2 National Security Intelligence Section works very closely with the Garda SDU and National Surveillance Unit (NSU) to spy on potential terrorism threats, particularly from Islamic terrorists and dissident republicans.
Defence Intelligence Section
The Directorate of Intelligence Defence Intelligence Section (DIS/DI) is staffed by military commissioned and non-commissioned officers. It is tasked with providing intelligence support to the Defence Forces. Staff actively monitor relevant political, economic, social and military situations globally to produce intelligence reports and strategic studies to support operations. The agents in this section can be found briefing all the way up to the Minister for Defence. The G2 Defence Intelligence Section is tasked with keeping members of the Defence Forces safe, be it in Ireland or abroad during active military engagements. The Army Ranger Wing Intelligence Section deploys in foreign countries alongside G2 soldiers during Irish military deployments, which are generally peacekeeping missions on behalf of the United Nations, European Union and NATO (Partnership for Peace), due to Ireland's military neutrality.
Founded in the mid-1920s following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the Directorate of Intelligence was originally the military intelligence branch of the Irish Army, hence its code-name "G2", which is a term used in western armed forces to refer to their Intelligence and Security branch. Later the Directorate became the intelligence service for the entire Irish armed forces, the Defence Forces (Army, Naval Service and Air Corps) and took on more national security roles. The G2 spent much of its early efforts combating the Anti-Treaty IRA, in the Republic of Ireland, and also operated in Northern Ireland. G2 first came to public attention during World War II, known in Ireland as The Emergency. Although Ireland had a policy of neutrality and was "non-belligerent" during WWII, G2 formed secret agreements with the United Kingdom's Military Intelligence Section 5 (MI5) and the United States' Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). During this period, G2 intercepted German naval and aerial communications through listening stations located across Ireland, sharing the information with Allied forces. Under the legendary Colonel Daniel "Dan" Bryan, Director of Intelligence, the G2 apprehended all thirteen Nazi spies sent to Ireland and broke German codes during the war. During the Cold War, G2 monitored communists and agents of communist governments operating in Ireland, primarily through embassies in Dublin, sharing information with western allies. G2 was involved through The Troubles, and gathered intelligence on many paramilitary groups which became proscribed terrorist organisations in Ireland and the UK. The G2 has been deployed numerous times alongside Irish forces on peacekeeping duties globally, mainly to ensure the safety and security of Irish troops, but also to provide intelligence on hostile forces. The G2 is one of the most secretive intelligence agencies in Europe, and the Irish government and Defence Forces rarely allude to its very existence. More recently, the service came to national and international attention in late 2005, when Arabic-speaking intelligence officers from G2 were deployed in Iraq, alongside heavily-armed Irish Army Rangers, following the kidnapping of Irish journalist Rory Carroll in Baghdad by militants associated with al-Qaeda. Following the intervention of Irish, British and American governments, Rory Carroll was released unharmed days later and returned safely to Dublin. G2 and the Garda Special Detective Unit's Middle Eastern Desk are tasked with monitoring potential jihadists in Ireland and Irish citizens who fight abroad in warzones such as Syria and Iraq for Muslim extremist organisations.
Following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, the Directorate of Intelligence significantly expanded their operations both internally and externally to provide the Irish government with a better intelligence picture in relation to terror threats emanating from al-Qaeda and affiliated groups, working with western partners. The 2004 Madrid train bombings (11-M) in Spain and 7 July 2005 London bombings in the United Kingdom also saw an increase in the budget and deployments of Irish intelligence agents. From 2006 to 2014, it has been reported that operatives from G2 and the ARW Intelligence Section were on the ground in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of various international missions. G2 receives intelligence reports from officials posted at Irish diplomatic missions overseas, via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Directorate of Intelligence works closely with the British Security Service (MI5) and Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6), American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), and Israeli Mossad at home and abroad.
It has been alleged that Ireland facilitated the CIA's extraordinary rendition program of terrorism suspects in the aftermath of 9/11, including the secret detention and interrogation of suspects. It is claimed that Irish airports Casement Aerodrome (military) and Shannon International Airport (civilian)—used by the US military as stopover hubs—have been used by the CIA for rendition operations, with support from the Irish government.
Ireland is not believed to engage in mass surveillance—as has been alleged in other western countries—however, it is understood to be a member of the ECHELON SIGINT (signals intelligence) network, sharing and receiving information with its members (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States). The Communication and Information Services Corps (CIS) is jointly responsible with G2 for SIGINT within the Defence Forces. According to the Department of Defence: "The Defence Forces adheres to the provisions of all legislation regulating the conduct of intelligence gathering. The Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act 1993 does provide the Defence Forces with the authority to conduct intelligence led operations involving surveillance, electronic communications and stored electronic information in order to safeguard and maintain the security of the State. The Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009 also provides for surveillance to be conducted by the Defence Forces in order to safeguard the security of the State."
Training and selection
Individuals can apply to be selected for the Directorate of Intelligence and they must be Officers or NCOs to be considered for appointment. Unlike a number of similar military forces, the Irish Defence Forces actively include intelligence as part of Officer and NCO education, but those selected to join the Directorate receive further specialist training. The Defence Forces run their own Defence Intelligence & Security course. The course runs for a number of months and covers the main areas of intelligence operations, including the principles of intelligence operations, defence intelligence, intelligence analysis, and combat intelligence. The course is supported by additional "on-the-job" training as part of the Directorate. This includes additional weapons, surveillance and communications training to support ongoing operations. Further training in languages is also available, and specialist training on sensitive subjects such as religion, culture, ethnicity and radicalisation are also provided. Members of the Directorate may also receive further training with friendly forces overseas.
- Defence Forces Headquarters (Department of Defence), Station Road, Newbridge Town, County Kildare (General Headquarters (GHQ), Directorate of Intelligence)
- McKee Barracks, Blackhorse Avenue, Cabra, Dublin 7 (Operations Centre, Directorate of Intelligence)
- Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Dublin 22 (Air Intelligence Section, Directorate of Intelligence)
- List of intelligence agencies
- Signals intelligence by alliances, nations and industries
- Army Ranger Wing (ARW)
- Garda Crime & Security Branch (CSB)
- Garda Special Detective Unit (SDU)
- Garda National Surveillance Unit (NSU)
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