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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 305-314
 Header Item Army Barracks Closures
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Naval Service Vessels
 Header Item Defence Forces Reserve Training
 Header Item Defence Forces Strength
 Header Item Defence Forces Equipment
 Header Item Defence Forces Operations
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel
 Header Item Maritime Surveillance

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 305-314

Army Barracks Closures

 305. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if any arrangement for the future use of Columb Barracks, Mullingar, County Westmeath has been agreed upon; thet options that may be available to organisations who wish to express interest in using the premises [21195/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Since the announcement of the Government decision on barrack closures my Department has written to each Government Department, various agencies and local authorities seeking expressions of interest in acquiring any of the properties including Columb Barracks to benefit the local community as a whole but with particular emphasis on job creation measures. Whilst some discussion has taken place in relation to Mullingar Barracks no substantial progress has been made towards achieving a sale to date.I would of course be happy to discuss with any interested group proposals they may have for the use and development of the site for the benefit of the local community. However any proposal involving the long term administering of multiple leases and fulfilling the many responsibilities of a landlord cannot be accepted given the current resources available in my Department.

  Question No. 306 answered with Question No. 103.

Departmental Properties

 307. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his Department and agencies under its aegis, who own or rent property in commercial developments are in compliance with their responsibilities under the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011; if he will outline those agencies who have representation on the boards of owners management companies; if he will provide a list of the agency, the relevant management company and its associated property but not the name of the individual representing the said agency; and his views on the implementation process of the Multi-Unit Development Act within his Department.  [21242/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter There is no property either rented or owned by my Department or agencies under the aegis of my Department to which the provisions of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 apply.

Naval Service Vessels

 308. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to replace vessels in the naval fleet over the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21431/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter A strategy for the replacement of Naval Service Offshore Patrol Vessels is currently in train. A contract was signed in October, 2010 with Babcock Marine in the United Kingdom for the provision of two new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV’s). The acquisition of these modern new vessels, combined with a continuous process of refurbishment and repair on the other vessels in the fleet, will ensure that the operational capability of the Naval Service is maintained at a satisfactory level and that the most up to date equipment is available to Naval Service personnel. The cost of the provision of the two new ships is €108m, exclusive of VAT. In addition, the cost of providing a weapons system for the ships, similar to the systems on LE Roisin and LE Niamh, is €7.8m, exclusive of VAT. The construction of the first ship is well advanced in Appledore, UK. In addition, the process of the cutting of steel for the second ship began recently in the shipyard. As per the contract, the first ship is scheduled for delivery in early 2014. The second ship will follow one year later.

I am satisfied that the equipment issued to the Naval Service is in keeping with the most modern requirements and the highest international standards. The ongoing investment in the Naval Service will ensure that this remains to be the case.

Defence Forces Reserve Training

 309. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will outline his plans for the future and maintaining of the Reserve Defence Force's base on Bere Island, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21432/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Bere Island is a Defence Forces training resource used by both the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force. There are no plans to change the status of the facility and military training will continue on the Island.

Defence Forces Strength

 310. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he is satisfied regarding the current strength of the Defence Forces including the Reserve at Army, Navy and Air Corps level; if any particular weaknesses have been brought to his attention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21551/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Military Authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force, at 31 March 2013, the latest date for which details are available, was 9,189, comprising 7,375 Army, 781 Air Corps and 1,033 Naval Service personnel. This is against the agreed stabilised strength for the Permanent Defence Force of 9,500. No specific weaknesses have been brought to my attention. However, in the context of the current strength of the Permanent Defence Force being below the agreed stabilised strength, it is my intention that targeted recruitment will continue within the resource envelope allocated to Defence. With regard to the Reserve Defence Force, the total strength at 30 November 2012, the latest date for which figures are available was 4,978. This figure comprises 4,773 Army Reserve and 205 Naval Service Reserve personnel. Up to date strength figures for the Reserve Defence Force will be available once the ongoing process of the re-organisation of the Reserve is complete and I will provide this information directly to the Deputy at that point.

A major re-organisation of the Permanent Defence Force has recently been completed. In addition, and in response to the findings of a Value for Money Review which was published in late 2012, the Reserve Defence Force is also being reformed and re-organised. These changes will ensure that the Defence Forces organisational structures are configured to maximise required capabilities.

The combination of the measures I have outlined will ensure that the Permanent Defence Force can continue to deliver required operational outputs for all approved Aid to the Civil Power and approved Aid to the Civil Authority requests. The Permanent Defence Force will also continue to meet Government requirements for overseas peace support operations. The full spectrum of Defence Forces personnel and equipment, is also available for deployments in response to emergencies and crises.

Defence Forces Equipment

 311. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the extent to which the upgrading of equipment has taken place in the Army, Navy and Air Corps; the degree to which any particular deficiencies have been identified; the proposals, if required, in response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21552/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces remains a focus for me as Minister for Defence. However, it is imperative that the Department and the Defence Forces, similar to all other Government Departments, must take into account the current difficult economic environment we are now operating in. The budgetary situation will continue to dictate the level of funding available for new equipment and upgrades. Decisions will be made accordingly on a strictly prioritised basis with a view to maintaining the capability of all roles assigned by Government to the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. A particular focus is maintained in ensuring that modern and effective equipment is available for overseas peace support operations. In this regard, the personal equipment, which the individual soldier has at his/her disposal in Lebanon and on other overseas missions is second to none and compares very favourably with the equipment in use by other countries.  

  Investment in new equipment and upgrading of existing equipment for the Defence Forces is provided for under various subheads of the Defence Vote relating to Defensive Equipment, Transport, Aircraft, Naval Service Ships and Stores and Communications and Information Technology Equipment.

  I am advised that the provision allocated in 2013 specifically for the purchase of defensive equipment and ammunition is €26.5m. This allows for the acquisition of a range of priority defensive equipment and munitions such as Force Protection Equipment, a new Ground Surveillance Radar system, a replacement programme for the 12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun and the continued implementation of a Rifle Enhancement Programme for the Steyr Rifle which has been in service for nearly 25 years.

  The Rifle upgrade programme is a multi annual programme which represents one of the most significant investments the Government is making in terms of the impact it will have on Defence Forces personnel at the coal face. The project is currently the subject of a number of tender competitions, the results of which will dictate the value of the programme going forward. The provision for 2013 also provides for the upgrade and refurbishment programme of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal HOBO robots. This is one of the most important current programmes for the Defence organisation given the increased levels of call outs witnessed in recent years by the Defence Forces.

  With regard to the Naval Service, my Department, in conjunction with the Naval Service, is overseeing the acquisition of two new Offshore Patrol Vessels. The cost of the provision of the two new ships is €108m, exclusive of VAT. In addition, the cost of providing a weapons system for the ships, similar to the systems on LE Roisin and LE Niamh, is €7.8m, exclusive of VAT.The construction of the first ship is well advanced in Appledore, UK. In addition, the process of the cutting of steel for the second ship began recently in the shipyard. As per the contract, the first ship is scheduled for delivery in early 2014. The second ship will follow one year later.In relation to the Air Corps, there are no plans for the acquisition of new aircraft at present but this has to be seen in the context of significant expenditure on the Air Corps in recent years.

  I am satisfied that the level of resources and equipment available to the Defence Forces enables the Defence Forces to carry out their roles both at home and overseas in an efficient and effective manner.

Defence Forces Operations

 312. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he is satisfied regarding the ability of the Defence Forces to meet the challenge of any emergency that might arise of security of natural disaster nature; the degree to which the Army, Navy and Air Corps can meet the challenge of such situations; if the necessary telecommunications and logistical equipment is adequately available in the event of such situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21553/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter My priority as Minister for Defence is to ensure that the operational capacity of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible.The involvement of the Defence Forces in responding to emergencies or security issues arises from requests for assistance from An Garda Síochána in an Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) role or from other agencies of the State in an Aid to Civil Authority (ATCA) role. In relation to security, primary responsibility for the maintenance of law and order rests with An Garda Síochána. However, one of the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence (2000) is to provide ATCP which, in practice, means to assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. A wide variety of military training activities are specifically designed to counter or respond to possible security emergencies and the Defence Forces hold regular coordination and liaison meetings with An Garda Síochána in relation to ATCP issues.

In relation to ATCA, the Framework for Major Emergency Management sets out the structure for enabling the Principal Response Agencies (An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive and Local Authorities) to prepare for, and make a coordinated response to, major emergencies and the Defence Forces respond within that Framework. Representation on the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, by both my Department and the Defence Forces, also ensures the fullest coordination and cooperation in the event of an emergency.

The full spectrum of Defence Forces personnel and equipment, commensurate with operational requirements, is available for deployments in response to emergencies and crises. I am satisfied that Defence Forces personnel have the most modern and effective range of equipment, including telecommunications and logistical equipment, needed to fulfil all roles that are assigned to them by Government in any emergency situations that may arise.

Defence Forces Personnel

 313. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the extent to which the number of women serving at all ranks, in the Army, Navy and Air Corps has increased over the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21554/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The tables set out the number of women by rank serving in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps at 31 December for each of the years 2003 to 2012, and at 31 March 2013, the latest date for which figures are available. These figures show that at 31 March 2013 there were a total of 565 serving in the Permanent Defence Force, a figure which equates to 6.15% of the overall strength of the Permanent Defence Force on that date. This compares favourably with a figure of 4.6% of women serving in the Permanent Defence Force on 31 December 2003.   The Government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities. Unlike many other national armed forces, the Defence Forces have no restrictions as regards the assignment of men or women to the full range of operational and administrative duties. All promotions and career courses are open to both genders on merit.

  The Defence Forces prides itself on providing a gender neutral working environment. Policies on equality are being constantly communicated to all ranks. The military authorities are alert and vigilant to this issue and are committed to addressing this matter in a continuing and proactive manner.

TABULAR STATEMENT

STRENGTH OF WOMEN IN THE ARMY 2004 - 31 MARCH 2013

-
LT
MAJ
BRIG
COL
LT
COMDT
CAPT
LT
TOTAL
SM
BQMS
CS
CQMS
SGTS
CPLS
TOTAL
PTES
CADETS
TOTAL
-
GEN
GEN
GEN
COL
OFFRS
NCOS
31-Dec-03        
1
11
30
33
75
   
3
1
10
87
101
206
15
397
31-Dec-04        
1
14
35
33
83
   
2
1
10
100
113
220
18
434
31-Dec-05        
1
16
38
33
88
   
3
1
10
103
117
225
18
448
31-Dec-06        
1
14
43
41
99
   
3
1
15
104
123
224
9
455
31-Dec-07
1
18
44
40
103
3
1
23
102
129
216
8
456
31-Dec-08
1
21
48
41
111
3
1
32
108
144
200
13
468
31-Dec-09
2
19
43
47
111
3
1
32
109
145
194
12
462
31-Dec-10
1
18
41
51
111
2
1
33
109
145
200
11
467
31-Dec-11
2
19
46
45
112
2
1
35
119
157
194
4
467
31-Dec-12
2
26
43
43
114
2
33
120
155
209
4
482
31-Mar-13        
2
26
41
43
112
   
2
1
40
111
154
199
4
469


TABULAR STATEMENT

STRENGTH OF WOMEN IN THE AIR CORPS 2007 - 2012
-
LT
MAJ
BRIG
COL
LT
COMDT
CAPT
LT
TOTAL
SM
BQMS
CS
CQMS
SGTS
CPLS
TOTAL
PTES
CADETS
TOTAL
-
GEN
GEN
GEN
COL
OFFRS
NCOS
31-Dec-03            
1
2
3
   
1
   
7
8
9
1
21
31-Dec-04            
2
1
3
   
1
   
9
10
7
1
21
31-Dec-05            
2
1
3
   
1
 
1
11
13
5
1
22
31-Dec-06            
2
2
4
   
1
 
1
11
13
14
1
32
31-Dec-07
3
2
5
1
1
10
12
15
1
33
31-Dec-08
2
2
4
1
3
10
14
13
1
32
31-Dec-09
4
1
5
1
4
10
15
12
1
33
31-Dec-10
4
2
6
1
4
9
14
12
32
31-Dec-11
2
3
5
1
4
13
18
7
30
31-Dec-12
2
2
4
1
 
4
13
18
8
30
31-Mar-13            
2
2
4
1
     
6
10
17
7
 
28


TABULAR STATEMENT

STRENGTH OF WOMEN IN THE NAVAL SERVICE 2007 - 2012
-
LT
MAJ
BRIG
COL
LT
COMDT
CAPT
LT
TOTAL
SM
BQMS
CS
CQMS
SGTS
CPLS
TOTAL
PTES
CADETS
TOTAL
-
GEN
GEN
GEN
COL
OFFRS
NCOS
31-Dec-03            
2
14
16
         
1
1
44
5
66
31-Dec-04            
3
16
19
         
2
2
36
2
59
31-Dec-05            
6
11
17
         
3
3
37
2
59
31-Dec-06            
8
10
18
         
7
7
38
6
69
31-Dec-07
10
8
18
7
7
40
6
71
31-Dec-08
2
10
11
23
9
9
35
3
70
31-Dec-09
2
10
11
23
9
9
34
6
72
31-Dec-10
2
10
14
26
8
8
34
2
70
31-Dec-11
3
13
12
28
11
11
28
1
68
31-Dec-12
6
12
10
28
2
10
12
28
2
70
31-Mar-13          
6
12
10
28
       
2
10
12
27
1
68

Maritime Surveillance

 314. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the discussions, if any, he has had with his European colleagues in the context of a European contribution towards the costs associated with coastal surveillance from the point of view of security and-or prevention of terrorism and-or prevention of trafficking and drug smuggling in view of the extensive Irish national coastline; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21555/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Naval Service conducts routine maritime surveillance patrols on a daily basis throughout Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The primary day-to-day tasking of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State’s fishery protection legislation and our obligations as a member of the European Union. In its fishery protection role, the Naval Service is committed to having at least three vessels on patrol at any one time. However, when on patrol Naval Service vessels are multi-tasked in the sense that they also undertake general surveillance, security and other duties, often in conjunction with An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners who have primary responsibility for the prevention of people trafficking and drug trafficking respectively. Naval Service patrols are complemented by assistance provided by the Air Corps. The Air Corps’ Maritime Squadron carries out aerial surveillance within the Irish EEZ using the two CASA maritime patrol aircraft which were acquired in 1994 under the terms of the 1991 to 1995 Fishery Protection Programme. These aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and communication equipment which offers aerial assistance to the Naval Service. The EU has provided funding towards the cost of purchase and upgrade of these aircraft.

Funding is available from the EU under the Fisheries Control Programmes to strengthen fishery surveillance systems in Member State countries. The Naval Service and the Air Corps, through my Department and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, apply on an annual basis for EU funding for projects that enhance their fisheries surveillance role. In recent years, my Department has received €0.325m (2010) and €1.073m (2011). The ship replacement programme accounted for €0.9m of the 2011 funding.

In relation to maritime surveillance generally, an Inter-Departmental Maritime Surveillance Working Group, chaired by the Department of Transport, was established under the auspices of the Marine Co-ordination Group. The Working Group is working towards the creation of a common information-sharing environment to enhance safety and security within the Irish maritime domain.

In addition, Ireland, along with six other EU Member States, participates in the EU Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) which is an international co-ordination force that has led to a greater focus on intelligence exchange amongst countries to tackle large drug shipments by sea.


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