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Directorate of Intelligence (Ireland)

Defence Forces Directorate of Intelligence
Stiúrthóireacht na Faisnéise
G2 Headquarters in Newbridge, County Kildare
Agency overview
Formed October 1, 1924; 91 years ago (1924-10-01)
Jurisdiction Government of Ireland

Station Road, Newbridge, County Kildare
Coordinates: 53°11′13.0″N 6°48′40.1″W / 53.186944°N 6.811139°W / 53.186944; -6.811139{{#coordinates:53|11|13.0|N|6|48|40.1|W| |primary |name=

Employees Classified (estimated 200-300)
Annual budget Classified (part of Defence Forces budget, €896.8 million in 2014)</td></tr>
Minister responsible Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Defence</td></tr>
Deputy Minister responsible Paul Kehoe, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Defence</td></tr>
Agency executive Lieutenant General Conor O'Boyle, Chief of Staff of Defence Forces Ireland</td></tr>
Parent agency

23px Defence Forces</td></tr></table> The Directorate of Intelligence (G2) (Irish: Stiúrthóireacht na Faisnéise) is the primary national intelligence agency of Ireland, as well as being the military intelligence branch of the Defence Forces, the Irish armed forces. The organisation has responsibility for the Republic of Ireland's national security, and operates domestic intelligence and foreign intelligence sections.[1] 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. G2 is based in Newbridge, County Kildare.[2]

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).[3] 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).[4] 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.[5] Operatives from 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. 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.[6]


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.[7]

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.[8]


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. G2 spent much of its early efforts combating the Anti-Treaty IRA, in the Republic of Ireland, and also operated in Northern Ireland.[9] 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.[10] 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. 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. G2 is one of the most secretive intelligence agencies in Europe, and the Irish government and Defence Forces rarely allude to its very existence.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13][14][15]


Foreign activities

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.[16] 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.[17][18]

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.[19]

Electronic surveillance

Ireland is not believed to engage in mass surveillance[20]—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."[21]

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,[22] 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.[23]


  • Defence Forces Headquarters (Department of Defence), Station Road, Newbridge Town, County Kildare (General Headquarters (GHQ), Directorate of Intelligence)[24]
  • McKee Barracks, Blackhorse Avenue, Cabra, Dublin 7 (Operations Centre, Directorate of Intelligence)[25]
  • Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Dublin 22 (Air Intelligence Section, Directorate of Intelligence)[26]

See also


  1. ^ "Army monitors threats to the State's security". The Irish Examiner. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Dean, A. "A History of the Irish Intelligence Community". 30 March 2011. Top Secret Writers. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Mulqueen, Michael; European Institute, University College Dublin, Ireland (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. 
  4. ^ Brady, Tom (2 January 2014). "Frontline forces: elite Ranger Wing grows in size by one-third". Irish Independent. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Irish Secret Service not so secret". Daily Star (Ireland). 17 May 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Department of Defence expected to occupy new Newbridge officecs in summer". Leinster Leader. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  7. ^ James, Steve (17 May 2011). "The royal visit to Ireland". The World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "Ireland a new front in global intelligence game". Irish Echo. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  9. ^ McMahon, Paul (2008). British spies and Irish rebels: British intelligence and Ireland, 1916-1945. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 184383376X. 
  10. ^ "Ex Trinity student was CIA's Irish link, records show". Irish Times. 28 December 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  11. ^ King, Stephen (21 October 2009). "British spooks’ story sheds light on key aspects of modern Irish history". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  12. ^ Harden, Tony (25 October 2005). "Westerners face new fears as Rory returns to his delighted family". Irish Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ "Editorial: Homegrown 'jihadists' could pose risk to State". Irish Independent. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "'Irish' fighter seeks to lure more to Islamic State's cause". Irish Independent. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  16. ^ Clonan, Tom. "Irish Intelligence Staff Work From Kosovo To Kabul". 1 January 2006. Dublin Institute of Technology #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
    This page is a soft redirect. School of Media. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  17. ^ "Secret army squad keeps watch on 60 Al Qaeda in Ireland". Irish Daily Star. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  18. ^ Williams, Paul (11 January 2015). "Ireland being used as 'transit hub for Jihadis' heading for Iraq and Syria". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "Ireland facilitated CIA's secret detention, rendition and interrogation of suspects after 9/11". 6 February 2013. Irish Central. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  20. ^ Cahill, Ann (13 March 2014). ""Fight against terrorism can never justify secret mass surveillance"". The Irish Examiner. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "Department of Defence: Defence Forces Intelligence Operations". 18 June 2013. Kildare Street. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  22. ^ "Defence Forces Military College". 2013. Defence Forces Ireland. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  23. ^ "DoD/DF Annual Report to the Minister for Defence 2007" (PDF). 1 January 2008. Department of Defence / Defence Forces. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "Department of Defence (Contact)". Department of Defence GHQ. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  25. ^ Mulqueen, Michael. "“Terrorism will only be defeated by solidarity and collective action”". March 2005. UCD. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  26. ^ "David Norris targets Shannon Airport". The Phoenix (Magazine). 2 December 2005. 

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