Calls for British troops in the North ‘trying to keep it relevant to the UK’

A report is calling on the UK Government to expand its naval and air presence in Northern Ireland
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

12.59 27 Mar 2024

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Calls for British troops in th...

Calls for British troops in the North ‘trying to keep it relevant to the UK’

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

12.59 27 Mar 2024

Share this article

Calls for Britain to increase its military presence in Northern Ireland due to Dublin’s lack of defence capabilities come from ‘unionist perspective’, a security analyst has said.

It comes after a new report from London-based think tank Policy Exchange accused Ireland of 'freeloading' on other countries' defences.

The report from the right-wing think tank warns that Ireland poses a "grave back-door security risk to the UK" and calls for British naval ships and aircraft to be sent to Northern Ireland.


Security Analyst Declan Power told The Pat Kenny Show that Ireland is not carrying its weight in terms of defence - but Britain won’t be increasing its military presence in the North any time soon.

"We don't take our air defence, our above surface or below surface nautical defences seriously," he said.

"We're not shouldering our weight in that regard, we're a chink in Europe's defence.

"The report does articulate a lot of important points about the lack of kinetic defence in Ireland."

'Unionist perspective'

Mr Power said there is a reason why Britain reduced its military presence in the North.

"I think the climax of the report is really something that is from a unionist perspective," he said.

"It's encouraging the British government to put bases [in Northern Ireland].

"I don't entirely agree with that and a lot of securocrats don't believe it either.

"The British long ago made a political and strategic decision that it was in their interests not to have bases of a significant nature in Northern Ireland in order not to upset the delicate political rapprochement."

Mr Power said British forces have been managing defence gaps with Ireland's permission.

"The British have been managing the defence posture from the Greenland/Iceland/UK gap and they're able to project force there," he said.

"They do so with our acquiescence because they use our airspace at times through the agreement that has been in place since the 1950s."

Mr Power said motivation for the report is "to try and make Northern Ireland relevant to being maintained as part of the United Kingdom.

"It's a clever idea and it's something that dates back to World War II."

Ireland-UK cooperation

Mr Power said ultimately the UK is more interested in Ireland cooperation elsewhere.

"The British are much more concerned about our cooperation with them at an intelligence level, at a cyber-security level and we do have extensive links there," he said.

"The securocrats would be aware that when it comes to projection of kinetic power they don't really need us to be involved in that - however that's a deficit from us.

"We're not at the table when decisions are going to be made of that nature, that are going to influence courses of action for us and that will affect our assets - be they undersea, be they above surface.

"We should be at the table," he added.

Mr Power said Ireland should look at 'stepping up' our involvement in programmes such as NATO's Individually Tailored Partnership Programme (ITPP).

The Government has said it has no plans to join NATO.

Main image: British troops on the streets of Belfast in May 1973. Image: Alain Le Garsmeur "The Troubles" Archive / Alamy

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British Declan Power Individually Tailored Partnership Programme NATO Northern Ireland Policy Exchange Securocrats The Pat Kenny Show Uk

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