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Army and Air Corps guarded bank cash 2,147 times

ARMED soldiers and Air Corps planes guarded bank money more than 2,000 times last year.

They provided armed escorts for cash-in-transit vans around the country on 2,147 occasions in what are called Aid To The Civil Power operations.

That figure dwarfs other work carried out in similar operations including providing Central Bank guards (365), bomb disposal call-outs (196), Shannon Airport patrols (16), explosive escorts (12) and prisoner escorts (121).

The Air Corps also flew air cover for the bank escorts on 353 missions -- with 335 of those undertaken by the Cessna 172.

Escorts

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said earlier this year that a detailed agreement had been reached with banks, who were now paying the "full cost" of escort protection.

The latest annual report for the Defence Forces shows that after bank cash escorts, the largest support to the civil power was given to the Garda Air Support Unit, with Air Corps pilots flying the Garda helicopters and Defender plane on 2,142 missions.

A total of 149 missions were flown flying the Taoiseach and his ministers around, including 42 involving the Gulfstream IV jet; 82 involving the Learjet; one with the Casa maritime patrol plane; four with the EC-135 helicopter; 19 with the AW-139 helicopter; and one using the Beechcraft KingAir plane.

mlavery@herald.ie