The primary role of the Department of Defence is to support the Minister as head of the department and in particular to provide policy advice and support on Defence matters, including assistance with policy formulation and the implementation of policy as directed by the Minister.
The civil element also has a number of specific roles which include:
the management of legal, regulatory and litigation policy and related matters on behalf of the Minister
the management of the department's human resources and industrial relations
the coordination of the delivery of security, emergency and community services by the Defence Forces
In addition, the civil element provides liaison between the Defence Forces and other government departments, public authorities, the EU and public representatives.
Policy in respect of overseas operations, in furtherance of Ireland's commitments in the area of international security and peacekeeping, is also coordinated by the civil element which, jointly with the military, has an important strategic responsibility in relation to emergency planning coordination and oversight.
Civil servants discharge financial managements and audit functions in connection with the Secretary General's role as Accounting Officer and provide administrative support services to the Defence Forces, including pay administration, the management of major procurement and infrastructural programmes and the management of lands used by the military. There is a significant degree of delegation of financial authority to the Defence Forces, particularly in the area of the procurement of goods and services.
Finally, the civil element is responsible for the administration and granting of military pensions and has a range of responsibilities in relation to Civil Defence and the Irish Red Cross Society.