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 Header Item Defence Forces Reserve Strength (Continued)
 Header Item Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Topical Issue Debate
 Header Item Report on Murder of Pat Finucane

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating] I believe they are the best in the world at what they do. I ask the Minister to consider conducting a review of the Reserve Defence Force to determine how we can utilise them, as a voluntary body of men and women, to provide leadership training, promote community awareness and team work, as well as the development of a social conscience for many young men and women who may not have considered joining up to now. This could be done effectively and in a very cost-effective manner. I became more aware of the potential of the Reserve Defence Force recently through meeting a constituent of mine who is a doctor of science in Trinity College, a non-commissioned officer in the reserve and a fitness instructor in her barracks. She outlined to me how she has gained invaluable experience as a member of the reserve and the voluntary work she has undertaken with them has really helped her to grow as a person. It is based on that experience that I ask the Minister to consider this option.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy has made a very interesting suggestion. I am conscious that the reserve trains but has not been deployed substantially to fulfil functions. I am concerned to ensure that the reserve force engages in work that is of benefit to the community and which its members feel is fulfilling, based on the training they have received. One of the difficulties at the moment, in practical terms, is that if an emergency arises, for example, the Civil Defence is called out. When members of the Civil Defence who are trained are called out, it does not result in any extra expenditure by the State. The reserve force is not called out, even though its members may be equally well trained because under the old system, being called out immediately incurred a cost to the State. If we can focus on providing the funding for training as opposed to for a gratuity and if the reserve, when called out, did so on a voluntary basis, there would be a greater opportunity for the reserve's engagement.

In the context of what the Deputy had to say about Dublin, he might be interested to know that under the reorganisation arrangements, units and personnel in the Reserve Defence Force are being moved across locations, similar to that which occurred in the course of the Permanent Defence Force reorganisation. I am advised by the military authorities that there are currently a total of 948 Reserve Defence Force personnel based in five locations in Dublin, namely Cathal Brugha Barracks, McKee Barracks, Baldonnel, Swords and St. Bricin's Hospital. Under the current reorganisation proposals, the Reserve Defence Force units in Baldonnel, Swords and St. Bricin's Hospital will be closed and these personnel will be reassigned. The strength of the reserve in the two retained locations in the Dublin area, namely Cathal Brugha Barracks and McKee Barracks, will be 518 personnel. Discussions are ongoing with Reserve Defence Force representative associations on the implementation of the reorganisation proposals, the implications for their members and how these can be addressed, including through possible transitional arrangements. I say that in the context of being aware that the numbers currently in Dublin exceed the numbers that will ultimately be in Dublin and I am anxious to ensure that those members of the reserve who are currently engaged can continue to be thus, if they so wish.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Message from Select Committee

Acting Chairman (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has completed its consideration of the Civil Defence Bill 2012 and has made no amendments thereto.

Topical Issue Debate

Report on Murder of Pat Finucane

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Today's release of the de Silva report and the British Prime Minister's statement on the shocking level of State collusion in the brutal murder of Pat Finucane opens up a dark chapter in our country's history. The report, however, does not meet the fair, objective criteria of a full investigation into the murder. The Finucane family has completely rejected the report as a whitewash and has consistently argued that a public inquiry, where the veracity of documents and witnesses can be tested under legal cross examination in the eyes of the public, is the only way of getting to the truth about the depth and reach of security force collusion. Today's report simply does not meet those hopes.

I fundamentally disagree with Mr. Cameron's ongoing refusal to hold an independent review. Contrary to his statement today, I believe that it would reveal a fuller picture of what happened in those dark days and I call on the Government to reiterate its support for a full independent inquiry and to relay same to the British Government. Furthermore, it is vital that we in Dáil Éireann put aside time to discuss the de Silva report as part of our own commitment to the peace process. That process, as we have seen all too clearly in recent days, is more fragile and incomplete than we might like to think. We cannot allow Northern Ireland to be neglected in this House and I hope the past few days have scotched any complacency seeping into Government circles on the issue.

Today we saw the long-awaited release of a report into a victim of brutal State collusion. It is important to also take this moment to remember the pain and suffering endured by thousands of families across Northern Ireland who were victims of the Troubles and whose search for the truth, on many occasions, has met with little notice. Earlier this month I received a letter from the father of one of the so-called "disappeared". His life is utterly shattered by the unfathomable blow to his family. As we seek justice for the family of Pat Finucane, those thousands of stories of unresolved loss should not be forgotten by any Member of the House.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I wish to commend the family of Pat Finucane on their courage and diligence in demanding a public inquiry into his killing. I want to be very mindful of all those who have died or been injured as a result of the conflict, regardless of who the perpetrators were.

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