Irish national security, innovation and its implications for national security agencies

Submitting Institution

Liverpool Hope University

Unit of Assessment

Politics and International Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Political Science

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Summary of the impact

Mulqueen's research contributed to the education of military officers in Ireland as his monograph, the first academic analysis of Irish national security, was adopted as a standard text to be read by naval officers in training. His work impacted upon the governance of Irish institutions, following Mulqueen's confidential briefing on security to Ireland's Leader of the Opposition, the current Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Enda Kenny, and to the Irish Naval Senior Command. The research has been disseminated at forums including the 27 member state European Coast Guard Functions Forum and the 44 member state European Civil Aviation Conference.

Underpinning research

Mulqueen's 2009a research marked the first time the Irish Government and its security agencies consented to external academic review. It identified institutionalised political and financial pressures, relating to internal revenues, procurement and promotions, which placed at serious risk the capacities of Ireland's national security agencies — the Garda Síochána and Defence Forces — to contain and manage threat against Ireland. It was based upon semi-structured interviews with more than 20 Irish security leaders including the Secretaries General of the Departments of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Foreign Affairs, Justice and Defence, as well as assistant secretaries and other senior government officials; the Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces and the directors and deputy directors of military intelligence, military operations, strategic planning and training and the Garda Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner for Crime and Security and various heads of Garda service. Evidence was analysed combining three approaches: historical institutionalism, bureaucratic politics and threat evaluation. The absence of naval and airborne systems to defend Ireland, an island state on the European Union's Atlantic western periphery, was found to be directly attributable to deeply institutionalised financial and political pressures on the Irish agencies. Perhaps the most serious finding was of a malfunctioning process of national threat assessment, which a senior Irish Army officer argued meant that in Irish security decision making: `we only identify as much threat as we can afford' (Mulqueen 2009a). Mulqueen's research uncovers evidence that despite a request by Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) for an all spectrum threat assessment by the Irish agencies in the days after the 9/11 attack, Ireland's navy and air corps were effectively, if unwittingly, excluded from this process. This led to a skewed official threat assessment that ignored sea and airborne threats. This threat assessment remains intact today. His other work that year (2009b) updates this analysis to capture a significant development in Irish military intelligence.

Mulqueen's (2012) publication marks a continuation of this previous work and involves a case study of the Irish Navy and its associated structure, the Irish Maritime Energy Research Cluster (IMERC, This research was produced in the Centre for Applied Research in Security Innovation (CASI), established at Hope, by Mulqueen, in January 2012 and funded by the UK Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) grant. It highlighted a remarkable widening in its military role, with potential applicability to many navies and clear implications for how they might contribute to the states and citizenry they serve. The (2012) work calls for a research agenda focussed upon the emerging use by national security agencies of an approach, systematic innovation, to more effectively engage with unfamiliar partners, notably high-tech industry partners, to derive networked solutions against non-traditional threats. It also identified advanced education among naval personnel and naval ships as key assets to promote innovative partnerships with industry that would generate sustainable wealth from a maritime economy rooted in environmental good practice. It evaluated the likely significance to other navies of the Irish navy's adoption of a strategic goal — to be the smartest, most innovative small navy in the world by 2016 — and its establishment with academic and industry partners of the Irish Maritime Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) ( This will enable the navy to partner with industries to access dual-use technologies that might not otherwise have been developed or developed a prohibitively high cost for a small navy. At the time of writing, the Irish government had, through a green paper on defence, proposed the incorporation of this employment-facing approach into Irish Defence Policy ( — see pp. 28, 29), and in Irish Marine Policy (

References to the research

Mulqueen, M. (2009a) Re-evaluating Irish national security policy: affordable threats? Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Mulqueen, M. (2009b) `Securing the State with Soldier Spies: evaluating the Risks of using Military Personnel to gather Surveillance Evidence in Ireland', Irish Studies in International Affairs, 20, 121.


Mulqueen, M. and Warburton T. (2012) `Breaking with tradition: Remodelling naval strategic thinking and outcomes using an open innovation approach, Administration, 60 (4), 89.

Publications were subject to editorial and peer review processes.

Details of the impact

The origins of the impact go back to 2003 when Ireland's police and security service, An Garda Síochána, its Defence Forces and Government Departments including An Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Foreign Affairs, Defence and Justice each agreed to formally participate in the first academic evaluation of Irish national security policy since the foundation of the state. A year later, Michael Mulqueen was invited to provide a confidential interim briefing on Irish national security to the Leader of the Opposition, Enda Kenny TD (currently Taoiseach/Prime Minister), which fed, directly, into a number of questions pursued at Leaders' Questions in the Dáil (Ireland's Lower House of Parliament).

Mulqueen continued his research upon reaching Hope, this was a strategic is appointment to strengthen our impact. Users of Mulqueen's research 2009-12 include the Irish Government and Opposition, Irish Defence Forces (Irish Navy, Army and Air Corps), Garda Síochána (Ireland's policing and national security agency, and non-governmental organisations including leading media outlets, as well as scholars in the fields of strategic studies, policing and criminal justice.

In 2012, the resulting monograph (MUP 2009) was adopted by the Irish Naval Service as a core text to be read by its officers in training. The decision was taken as the organisation moved to position itself in accordance with the strategic goal of being the `smartest, most innovative, small navy in the world by 2016'. Mulqueen was subsequently invited to brief Naval Senior Command on the research findings. He became the first civilian to do so. The confidential briefing took place at Naval Headquarters in January 2012. The monograph and a subsequent paper, `Securing the State...' (2009) have been well cited in the recent scholarship and in media. Their publication led to Michael Mulqueen being invited by the Centre for Criminal Justice at the University of Limerick to co-author a submission to the Irish Government in response to its draft White Paper on Crime.

Liverpool Hope University established the Centre for Applied Research in Security Innovation (CASI) in January 2012, following a successful application to the UK Higher Education Innovation Fund to support it (£185,000 from 2012-2014 with additional funds available until 2015)

This will enable the continuation and expansion of the research outlined here up to REF2020. High profile security leaders have agreed to join CASI and, specifically, to provide practitioner insight into its research agenda. Rear Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, PhD, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces and, previously, Flag Officer Commanding the Irish Navy agreed to the appointment, in a personal capacity, of Visiting Professor for Maritime Security. Douglas Naquin, Director of Open Source Intelligence (ret'd), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Randolph Pherson, Chief, Strategic Planning and National Intelligence Officer for Latin America (ret'd), CIA, agreed to be appointed as Senior Research Fellows at CASI to bring cutting edge insight into implications of systematic innovation for intelligence agencies.

Some twenty five educational, industry, financial, naval, intelligence and `blue light' agency leaders attended CASI's symposium, The Maritime Economy and Governance: Innovation, Energy, Security and Growth', Liverpool (July 2012). Among those attending was the Chairman of the Association of Colleges, UK; the Deputy Chief Executive of Manchester Fire and Rescue Service; the Vice-President of SuretéGlobale, a Big Data crime mapping company, and the Chief Europe Strategist of Trend Macro, a US blue chip investment firm, as well as a range of other entrepreneurs.

In parallel, CASI partnered with the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies, King's College London and the Centre for Military History and Strategic Studies, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, to launch the first scholarly project into small navies. Among its outputs — which include an edited collection on Ashgate (2014) — is an international conference of academics and naval practitioners (October 2012), which, as an indicator of impact, attracted high-level speakers from the US and Irish navies, US Coastguard, Swedish Defence Agency, Royal Navy and others.

CASI was invited to provide a workshop on its research to the Irish Maritime Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC). Industry attendees included high level (i.e. director) management of EMC2, the cloud computing and Big Data solutions provider, and senior commercialisation officials from government agency, Enterprise Ireland (January 2012). Mulqueen subsequently addressed by invitation IMERC's national conference on geostrategic growth for Ireland's maritime economy, attended by the Minister for the Marine and leaders in the maritime logistics industry, security and national media (March 2012). Mulqueen was invited by the Chairman of the European Coastguard Function Forum (ECGFF) to address the 27 Member States on innovation in networked coastguard operations for maritime security, at the annual general meeting of the forum in 2012 (August, Dublin). He was invited to address the 44 member states of the European Civil Aviation Conference (Paris, 2012).

Indicators of impact external to the EU came with an invitation to Mulqueen from the Forum Foundation for Analytical Excellence, the Washington DC-based organisation led by former senior members of the US intelligence community, to provide a high level briefing on using innovation in networks for national security. Attendees included decision makers (director, vice-president and senior vice-president levels) from organisations including Microsoft, Northrop Grumman and American Defence International, as well as past and serving members of the US intelligence community.

Such work will lead to further impacts upon Irish institutions and security policy processes which has been ongoing since 2003 and this will undoubtedly influence public understanding, political and security institutions and the working of other agencies and users by 2020.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Deputy Chief of Staff, Irish Defence Forces

Director, Irish Coastguard

Vice-President Sureté Globale

Michael Mulqueen provided expert comment on public service television (RTE 1 `Prime Time, 12 October 2006. Audience c.425,000 viewers 000 [Joint National Listenership Research]) on the conduct of the Garda Síochána and on public service radio and to Ireland's public sector radio station, RTE Radio 1, on group think in emergencies and Garda misconduct (`Today with Pat Kenny', RTE Radio 1, Thursday 31 May 2012 See:; `Today with Pat Kenny', RTE Radio 1, Tuesday, 14 June 2011.
Audience c. 325,000 [Joint National Listenership Research])

Michael Mulqueen's address to a conference on maritime strategic growth for Ireland (see below) in which he outlined a model of innovation for national security networks was quoted in Ireland's paper of record, The Irish Times (May 19, 2012. See: [Note: this is now by subscription.] Audience: 321,000 [Audit Bureau of Circulation].