|Irish: Aonad Faireacháin Náisiúinta|
|Headquarters||Phoenix Park, Dublin (D8)|
Harcourt Street, Dublin (D2)
|Employees||Undisclosed (estimated 100)|
|Annual budget||Undisclosed (part of Garda Síochána budget, €1.34 billion in 2014)|
|Parent agency||Crime & Security Branch|
The National Surveillance Unit (NSU) (Irish: Aonad Faireacháin Náisiúinta) is the principal clandestine intelligence gathering and surveillance operations unit of the Garda Síochána, the national police force of Ireland. The unit operates under the Crime & Security Branch (CSB), based at Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, and also works from Harcourt Street, Dublin. Members of the unit are specially trained and selected Detective Gardaí who are tasked to remain covert whilst on and off duty, tracking suspected criminals, terrorists and hostile, foreign spies operating in Ireland. The unit's detectives are routinely armed. The National Surveillance Unit is understood to possess a manpower of approximately 100 officers, and is considered to be the most secretive arm of the force.
The Garda National Surveillance Unit was formed in the mid-1990s, when the "Crime Special Surveillance Unit" and the "Crime Ordinary Surveillance Unit" were merged. It is the operational wing of the Security & Intelligence Section (S&I) of the Crime & Security Branch (CSB). The unit is headed by a Detective Chief Superintendent, who is under the supervision of the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Crime and Security Branch. It is understood to have a strength of about 100 plainclothes officers, mainly detectives, who all carry firearms (standard issue is the concealable Walther P99c 9mm semi-automatic pistol). The unit is headquartered in the Phoenix Park, but carries out many operations from Harcourt Street. The NSU has personnel nationwide, and works closely with the Special Detective Unit (SDU) as well as Garda analysts or "techies" in other Garda regions, although often local Gardaí are unaware of the presence of the NSU operating in their area.
Increasingly, the NSU is using technical and electronic espionage rather than physical and human intelligence, working with the SDU and Directorate of Military Intelligence (G2) of the Irish Defence Forces, mainly to counter terror, militant and subversive groups in Ireland, as well as serious crime (particularly drug trafficking) and the activities of hostile foreign governments on Irish soil (counterintelligence).
The Garda NSU is considered the most covert unit of the force, and according to the Department of Justice: "It is the policy of An Garda Síochána not to comment on any matters relating to the operation of the National Surveillance Unit."
The Garda NSU operates a small number of "Ghost Teams" or "Ghost Units", which conduct "Black bag operations", whereby a team of officers will break into a property upon possession of a warrant and plant bugs to gather intelligence or evidence against suspected serious criminals, terrorists or hostile spies without their knowledge, and without leaving a trace (hence the name "Ghost Team"). The existence of these teams came to public attention following the publishing of The Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009. The equipment and technology used by the NSU is highly sophisticated and very expensive, but is also kept secret.
The National Surveillance Unit has been involved in a number of high-profile Garda operations, though rarely are the unit named, and they do not appear in public.
Main article: List of Irish police officers killed in the line of duty
|Rank||Name||Year of death||Circumstances|
|Detective Sergeant||John Eiffe||2001||Fatally wounded in friendly fire incident during arrest operation, County Laois|