Directorate of Military Intelligence (Ireland)

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Defence Forces Directorate of Military Intelligence
Irish: Stiúrthóireacht na Faisnéise
Badge of the Irish Defence Forces.svg
Badge of the Irish Defence Forces
Agency overview
Formed 1 October 1924; 93 years ago (1924-10-01)
Jurisdiction Ireland
Headquarters McKee Barracks, Dublin 7
Station Road, Newbridge, County Kildare
Employees Classified
Annual budget Classified (part of Defence Forces budget, €896.8 million in 2014)
Minister responsible
Deputy Minister responsible
Agency executives
Parent agency Badge of the Irish Defence Forces.svg Defence Forces
The Directorate of Military Intelligence is believed to operate out of the Defence Forces Headquarters complex in Newbridge

The Directorate of Military Intelligence (Irish: Stiúrthóireacht na Faisnéise) is the military intelligence branch of the Defence Forces, the Irish armed forces, and the primary national intelligence agency of Ireland. The organisation has responsibility for the safety and security of the Irish Defence Forces, its members, and the national security of the Republic of Ireland. The Directorate operates domestic intelligence and foreign intelligence sections, providing intelligence to the Government of Ireland concerning threats to the security of the state and the national interest from internal and external sources.[2] Military Intelligence falls under the structure of the Irish Army, but is the intelligence section of all Defence Forces branches. The Directorate of Military Intelligence draws staff from the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps. The Irish military special operations forces, the Army Ranger Wing (ARW), carries out physical tasks in support of Military Intelligence in Ireland and overseas, and the Communications and Information Services Corps (CIS) provides technical and electronic support. The agency is commonly referred to as "G2", and works closely with the Garda Síochána Special Detective Unit (SDU), the national police counter-terrorism and counter-espionage unit.[3]

Mission and organisation

The duties of the Defence Forces Directorate of Military Intelligence[4] 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 Military Intelligence staffs members drawn from the entire Defence Forces (Army, Naval Service and Air Corps), who then serve on a full-time basis with the organisation. Military Intelligence 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 Military Intelligence,[5] who provides regular intelligence briefings to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations), Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces and the Secretary General of the Department of Defence. The Director provides a monthly intelligence briefing in-person to the Minister for Defence. The Chief of Staff briefs the government cabinet on matters of state security, as well as the secretive National Security Committee (NSC).[6]

Although the organisation's number of employees and budget are classified, it is estimated permanent personnel in the unit number in the hundred(s), with a further 150/200 operatives in the Army Ranger Wing (ARW), who conduct missions at the behest of Military Intelligence. The funding comes from the overall Department of Defence budget (€1.16 billion in 2012).[7] 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.[8] Operatives from the Directorate of Military Intelligence carry firearms on operations both at home and abroad, and those in the Directorate regularly do not wear uniform. The Garda Special Detective Unit (SDU) works closely with the unit on domestic matters. Military Intelligence operates out of a number of locations in Dublin and County Kildare, and their headquarters are understood to be based at McKee Barracks, Dublin and the Department of Defence Headquarters in Newbridge, County Kildare.[9] The latter 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.[10]


National Security Intelligence Section

The Directorate of Military Intelligence National Security Intelligence Section (NSIS) deals with threats to the Irish state and Defence Forces in general. This includes identifying, monitoring and assessing possible threats to the state and Irish national interests at home and abroad, 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 roles, and physical security of critical infrastructure. The National Security Intelligence Section works very closely with the Garda SDU and Garda National Surveillance Unit (NSU) to spy on potential terrorism threats, particularly from Islamic terrorists and dissident republicans.[11] Military Intelligence have a number of Arabic speakers in their ranks as a result of Defence Forces deployments overseas.[12] NSIS members can conduct interrogations of suspects alongside Gardaí.[13]

Defence Intelligence Section

The Directorate of Military Intelligence Defence Intelligence Section 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 Directorate is responsible for conducting background checks of all Defence Forces personnel through close cooperation with the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU).[14] The 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 Military Intelligence 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 policy of military neutrality.[15]


Founded in the mid-1920s following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the Office of the Directorate of Intelligence was originally the intelligence arm of the Irish Army, hence its code-name "G2" or "J2", 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. G2 spent much of its early efforts combating the Anti-Treaty IRA, in the Republic of Ireland, and also operated in Northern Ireland.[16]

G2 first came to public attention during World War II, known in Ireland as The Emergency. Although Ireland had a policy of military 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.[17] Under the legendary Colonel Daniel "Dan" Bryan, Director of Intelligence, G2 apprehended all thirteen Nazi spies sent to Ireland and broke German codes during the war, under the guise of cryptologist Richard J. Hayes.

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. 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. It is one of the most secretive intelligence agencies in Europe, and the Irish government and Defence Forces rarely allude to its very existence.[18]

More recently, the service came to national and international attention in late 2005, when Arabic-speaking intelligence officers from the Directorate of Military Intelligence 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.[19] Military Intelligence 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 – specifically Syria and Iraq – for Muslim extremist organisations such as the self-proclaimed "Islamic State".[20][21][22]


Foreign activities

Following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, the Directorate of Military 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 Military Intelligence and ARW Intelligence Section operatives were on the ground in; Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of various international missions.[23] The Directorate receives intelligence reports from civil servants posted at Irish diplomatic missions overseas, via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Irish Military 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 is understood to have a relationship with Israeli Mossad.[24][25]

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.[26]

Electronic surveillance

Ireland is not believed to engage in mass surveillance[27] - as has been alleged in other western countries - however, it is reported 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 Defence Forces CIS Corps is jointly responsible with the Military Intelligence Directorate for SIGINT and cyber operations 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."[28]

Training and selection

Individuals can apply to be selected for the Directorate of Military 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,[29] 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 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.[30]


  • McKee Barracks, Blackhorse Avenue, Cabra, Dublin 7[31]
  • Defence Forces Headquarters (Department of Defence), Station Road, Newbridge Town, County Kildare[32]
  • Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Dublin 22 (Air Intelligence Section, Directorate of Military Intelligence)[33]

See also


  1. "Ministers Speech at the Symposium on the White Paper on Defence 2015". Department of Defence. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  2. "Army monitors threats to the State's security". The Irish Examiner. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  3. Dean, A. "A History of the Irish Intelligence Community". 30 March 2011. Top Secret Writers. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  4. "Department of Defence and Defence Forces Annual Report 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  5. "Department of Defence and Defence Forces Annual Report 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  6. Mulqueen, Michael (23 February 2005). "United We Stand? EU Counter-Terrorism Initiatives Meet A Small Member State's Security Community". All Academic Inc, Political Research Online, International Studies Association (46th Annual ISA Convention at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii, March, 2005): 25. Retrieved 7 February 2014.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  7. Brady, Tom (2 January 2014). "Frontline forces: elite Ranger Wing grows in size by one-third". Irish Independent. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  8. "Irish Secret Service not so secret". Daily Star (Ireland). 17 May 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  9. Mooney, John (22 November 2015). "Recordings of Irish Islamists passed to CIA". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  10. "Department of Defence expected to occupy new Newbridge officecs in summer". Leinster Leader. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  11. James, Steve (17 May 2011). "The royal visit to Ireland". The World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  12. Williams, Paul; Brady, Tom (24 November 2015). "Units to counter terrorism step up training". Irish Independent. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  13. Finucane, Patrick (2010). "Examining the Growth of Radical Islam in the Republic of Ireland". University of St Andrews. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  14. "Annual Report 2011" (PDF). Department of Defence and Defence Forces. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  15. "Ireland a new front in global intelligence game". Irish Echo. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  16. McMahon, Paul (2008). British spies and Irish rebels: British intelligence and Ireland, 1916-1945. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 184383376X. 
  17. "Ex Trinity student was CIA's Irish link, records show". Irish Times. 28 December 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  18. King, Stephen (21 October 2009). "British spooks’ story sheds light on key aspects of modern Irish history". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  19. Harden, Tony (25 October 2005). "Westerners face new fears as Rory returns to his delighted family". Irish Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  20. Brady, Tom; Phelan, Shane; Worden, Tom (21 August 2014). "Hunt begins for 'Jailer John' as gardai step up surveillance on 30 Irish jihadi fighters". Irish Independent. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  21. "Editorial: Homegrown 'jihadists' could pose risk to State". Irish Independent. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  22. "'Irish' fighter seeks to lure more to Islamic State's cause". Irish Independent. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  23. Clonan, Tom. "Irish Intelligence Staff Work From Kosovo To Kabul". 1 January 2006. Dublin Institute of Technology | School of Media. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  24. "Secret army squad keeps watch on 60 Al Qaeda in Ireland". Irish Daily Star. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  25. Williams, Paul (11 January 2015). "Ireland being used as 'transit hub for Jihadis' heading for Iraq and Syria". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  26. "Ireland facilitated CIA's secret detention, rendition and interrogation of suspects after 9/11". 6 February 2013. Irish Central. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  27. Cahill, Ann (13 March 2014). "Fight against terrorism can never justify secret mass surveillance". The Irish Examiner. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  28. "Department of Defence: Defence Forces Intelligence Operations". 18 June 2013. Kildare Street. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  29. "Defence Forces Military College". 2013. Defence Forces Ireland. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  30. "DoD/DF Annual Report to the Minister for Defence 2007" (PDF). 1 January 2008. Department of Defence / Defence Forces. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  31. Mulqueen, Michael. "Terrorism will only be defeated by solidarity and collective action". March 2005. UCD. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  32. "Department of Defence (Contact)". Department of Defence GHQ. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  33. "David Norris targets Shannon Airport". The Phoenix (Magazine). 2 December 2005. 

External links