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 Header Item Defence Forces Operations (Continued)
 Header Item Defence Forces Records

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl] That work is not yet complete. Why cease our involvement while the work remains to be completed? I ask the Minister to indicate whether he has engaged with the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on this matter, given that the Tánaiste has been a champion of the African strategy. Indeed, that strategy is worthy of support.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I understand we have more missions currently serving overseas than at any time previously in the history of the State. We are engaged concurrently in 14 different missions. On 22 January 2013, the Council of the European Union extended the mandate of EUTM Somalia to March 2015. This third mandate implied a significant change of focus for the mission, with the inclusion of strategic, advisory and mentoring activities in addition to training. The specific training offered by Irish Defence Forces personnel is no longer required under the new mission mandate. We maintained our numbers for as long as Brigadier General Aherne was in command of the mission, but the specific training activities in which we were engaged were no longer required and, in those circumstances, it made no sense to maintain our engagement beyond the completion of the current deployment. It is no more complex than that. Should it arise at some point in the future that we can contribute to the mission in a constructive way based on our niche skills and training capacities, that will be open for consideration.

Defence Forces Records

 133. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to increase the numbers serving in the Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13796/14]

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I am trying to ascertain the Minister's commitment to developing the numbers serving in the Air Corps. I welcome his recent announcement on recruitment to the Defence Forces and wonder how the Air Corps will benefit from the initiative.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I announced the launch of a new recruitment campaign for enlisted personnel in both the Permanent and the Reserve Defence Forces on Friday, 7 March 2014. The Government is committed to maintaining the stabilised strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel and the current campaign will enable this to be achieved. Recruitment of personnel to the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps is determined in line with the operational requirements of each of the three services. As such, the Defence Forces plan to induct up to 400 enlisted personnel to the Permanent Defence Force in 2014.

  In regard to specific Air Corps appointments, there are currently 17 pilots in training and it is planned to recruit a further nine Air Corps cadets this year, who will serve as pilots on commissioning. In addition to the 27 aircraft mechanic apprentices currently in training, it is planned to recruit a further 20 apprentices this year. Details of these competitions will be available on the Defence Forces website, www.military.ie, when the competitions commence. Requirements for additional recruits in the Air Corps will be addressed from the general service recruitment competition which is currently ongoing and from among line officers serving or due to be commissioned in the Permanent Defence Force.

  In regard to technical and line NCO promotions and appointments in the Air Corps, a new promotion scheme for NCOs was piloted approximately two years ago and a large number of promotions were made from this competition. My Department is currently in the process of reviewing the pilot and is considering some changes to streamline the competitive process. These will then be discussed with the representative association, PDFORRA. I expect the new promotion competition to fill line and technical NCO vacancies across the Defence Forces to commence in the next few months.

  I am advised by the Chief of Staff that the required operational strength of the Air Corps remains adequate and that the Air Corps is sufficiently resourced to continue to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I thank the Minister for his reply, much of which is positive. However, would he accept that the Air Corps is relatively small when compared internationally? If we compare Ireland with, for example, New Zealand, we find that one in four of the personnel in that country's defence force is a member of the air force, compared to one in 12 in Ireland. Do we need to develop the Air Corps to a greater extent by providing it with additional personnel to allow it to fulfil its remit?


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