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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 804-821
 Header Item Programme for Government Implementation
 Header Item Magdalen Laundries
 Header Item Magdalen Laundries
 Header Item Residential Institutions Redress Scheme
 Header Item Refugee Status Applications
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel
 Header Item Naval Service Vessels
 Header Item Defence Forces Deployment
 Header Item Defence Forces Deployment
 Header Item Defence Forces Training

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 804-821

Programme for Government Implementation

 804. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an update in tabular form of the commitments in the programme for Government that relate to his Department; and the progress that has been made in the implementation of each commitment. [14118/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter For detail on progress to date I refer the Deputy to the Programme for Government Annual Report 2014 published on 4 March 2014 and to my own statement to the House on 5 March 2014.

Magdalen Laundries

 805. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will clarify figures as presented in Dáil Éireann in 2013 to be paid to the Magdalen fund which range between €34.5 million to €58 million; the reason the figure set aside to pay for the ex gratia scheme has fallen to €23 million, in view a person (details supplied) confirming that the number of applicants, 724 to date, is broadly in line with expectations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14144/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The overall total estimated cost associated with the establishment of the Restorative Justice Scheme is €34.5m to €58m based on an estimate of 555 to 1000 applicants applying to the scheme. It includes the cost of the lump sum payments, the weekly State payments, the Medical Card, the establishment of a Dedicated Unit to administer the scheme, payment to the Irish Women Survivors Support Network (IWSSN) and provision of legal advice.

In the current year, the cost of the scheme as regards the Justice Vote is expected to be in the region of €23m. This takes account of the lump sum payments, weekly instalment payments for those in receipt of a lump sum in excess of €50,000, payments to solicitors who advise applicants before signing the waiver and staff administration staff costs. It does not include payments to be made in 2015 and subsequent years nor does it include payments under the Scheme that will fall to other Votes such as pensions and medical costs.

Magdalen Laundries

 806. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of the 224 applicants for whom payments have been issued who are resident with and-or are in the care of the religious congregations that formerly operated the Magdalene laundries in view of the fact that religious orders when explaining their decision not to make a financial contribution to the ex gratia scheme pointed out they were continuing to provide care for 130 such women; the number of these women who have received their lump sum payments; if these women have had an independent advocate appointed to monitor the survivors' engagement with the scheme; if individual bank accounts have been set up for these women, as mandated under the terms of the Quirke report; if he is satisfied that this population of survivors will have independent control of moneys received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14145/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can advise the Deputy that 251 applicants to the ex-gratia scheme have received their lump sum payment to date. Of that number, 24 reside with and are in the care of the religious congregations who formerly operated the Magdalen Laundries.

It has been the case with all payments to date, that payments only issue to a Bank account in the sole name of the applicant. Where there are capacity issues with an applicant who is not a Ward of Court, or does not have a person appointed under a valid registered enduring Power of Attorney, payment will be delayed until a specified person has been legally appointed to act on her behalf.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

 807. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will implement the full recommendation regarding the nursing home supports scheme, as outlined by Mr. Justice Quirke, for women still in residential care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14146/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Judge Quirke in his 10th Recommendation, having looked at wardship, the schemes provided for under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 and the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal Act 1997 among others recommended that a statutory scheme be introduced that would "allow for the appointment of certain persons who are bound to act in the best interests of the vulnerable person and who are subject to supervision and accountable to the court for their actions" on the lines of scheme established under the Nursing Home Support Scheme Act 2009. His recommendation was not limited to women in residential care.

The provision for the appointment of a care representative under section 21 of the 2009 only applies to a person who is incapable of making a decision relating to the making of an application for ancillary State support or consenting to the creation of a charge in relation to an interest in land situated within the State and related matters - all in connection with Nursing Home support scheme.

My understanding of what Judge Quirke intended was that there should be a similar statutory scheme applicable to women who have capacity issues and who fall within the scope of the scheme recommended by him. Such a scheme would not be limited to decisions relating to the Nursing Home support scheme. It is my intention to implement that recommendation.

Refugee Status Applications

 808. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter in view of the recent Government decision on admitting some Syrian refugees if he will clarify the procedures for accepting applications in this context; if Syrian refugees now in Turkey who have family members who have acquired Irish citizenship are entitled to apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14192/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I recently announced the introduction of the Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP) which focuses on offering temporary Irish residence to vulnerable persons who are present in Syria, or who have fled from Syria to surrounding countries, including for example Turkey, since the outbreak of the civil war, who have close family members residing in Ireland. The Programme allows naturalised Irish citizens of Syrian birth and Syrian nationals already lawfully resident in the State to make an application for vulnerable close family members to join them in Ireland on a temporary basis for up to two years. These are persons who are considered by their sponsoring family member present in Ireland to be most at risk. A sponsor may be a single person or the head of a family unit. Persons admitted under the programme will be entitled to work, establish a business, or invest in the State. A key condition of the programme is that these persons should not become a burden on the State. If these family members cannot find employment the onus will be on the sponsors to support them during their time in Ireland.

I am informed by INIS that details of the SHAP application procedure and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available on the INIS website www.inis.gov.ie and that the final date for the submission of applications under the Programme is 5pm on Friday 25 April 2014. Queries in relation to this programme can also be made via email to SHAP@justice.ie.

The Deputy may wish to note that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been established specifically for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

  Question No. 809 answered with Question No. 146.

Planning Issues

 810. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if planning permission was sought to demolish dwellings at the Curragh Camp as required by Schedule 2, Part (1), class 50 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001; and if not, the reason for same. [12970/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy is aware, by Regulations made under the Planning and Development Act, 2000, developments used for the purpose of or in connection with the operation of the Defence Forces are exempted from the planning laws. Accordingly the Defence Forces are exempt from the provisions of the Section of the Regulations referred to by the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

 811. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the circumstances in which deductions are made from the gratuity or pension of former serving soldiers in relation to outstanding payments for rent or ESB on Defence Forces dwellings; and the legislative basis for same, particularly where the person no longer resides in the dwelling. [12971/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Under Defence Forces Regulations made in accordance with Defence Acts 1954 - 2011, married quarters were allocated to serving members of the Defence Forces in circumstances where it was considered to be in the best interests of the service. They are allowed to occupy the quarters with their spouses and children. Where a serving member is in authorised occupation of such quarters, the Regulations provide for deductions to be made from pay in respect of the accommodation provided. On retirement or discharge from the Defence Forces a serving member ceases to be eligible to occupy quarters and is required to vacate the property within twenty one days. Those that remain in unauthorised occupation, described as overholding, are liable in accordance with Defence Forces Regulations to charges by way of compensation for the use of the quarters. In addition, they are liable to charges for electricity supplied to the quarters that they continue to overhold.

Occupation of quarters by the spouse and children of a former member of the Defence Forces to whom the quarters were allocated is considered to be occupation by the former member themselves. On that basis the Department makes deductions from the pension of the former member who has vacated the quarters where their spouse and children continue to remain in occupation.

The Regulations provide that such charges that become payable in respect of overholding be recovered by way of public debt from monies due to the former member of the Defence Forces or the estate of a deceased member as the case may be. Further, the Defence Forces (Pension) Scheme 1937 allows for deductions, from pension or gratuity, of monies owing to the Minister for Defence.

Departmental Reports

 812. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of external or internal policy reports currently that have been handed to him but not yet published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13028/14]

 813. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when he will publish reports currently in his possession that have not been published to date; if he will provide in tabular form the reports involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13045/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 812 and 813 together.

  The following table sets out details of reports in my possession which have not been published to date.

ReportReason
January 2013 - Report of the Military Court of Inquiry into the crash of the Pilatus PC-9(M) Aircraft Number 265 on 12 October 2009The findings and recommendations of all Courts of Inquiry are confidential in accordance with Defence Forces Regulations. As Minister for Defence I have discretion to direct that the Report of the Court of Inquiry be made available to interested parties, and in this instance I have provided the families with a copy of the Report of the Court of Inquiry.
June 2013 - Report of the Working Group regarding Litigation arising from Malaria Chemoprophylaxis in the Defence Forces – June 2013This report was produced in the context of current and potential litigation and is therefore legally privileged
Reports on Emergency PlanningSince the establishment of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning in 2001, the Office of Emergency Planning has prepared confidential Annual Reports on Emergency Planning for the Minister for Defence to report to Government on matters discussed and progressed during the year by the Government Task Force. These reports are confidential to Government and are not published as they contain high-level emergency planning, security and threat analysis issues addressed by the Government Task Force.In my role as Chair of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, I regularly receive both written and verbal reports on emergency planning and related matters through the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning. By their nature, the deliberations of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning are confidential and not published as they contain high-level emergency planning, security and threat analysis issues addressed by the Government Task Force.

Defence Forces Personnel

 814. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason the maximum cost of discharge is being imposed on a person in the Air Corps (details supplied); if same can be calculated at a cost of €3,145; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13154/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  I have been advised by the Military Authorities that they have sought legal advice on this matter and that they will provide me with a report upon receipt of that advice. I will reply directly to the Deputy following receipt of the report from the Military Authorities.

Naval Service Vessels

 815. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the plans in place for the commissioning of the LE Samuel Beckett as the newest vessel in the Naval Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13186/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  A contract was signed in October, 2010 with Babcock International in the United Kingdom for the provision of two new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV’s) for the Naval Service. The first of the two ships to be called LE Samuel Beckett is a replacement for LE Emer. LE Emer was decommissioned and sold late last year. The Sea Trials for LE Samuel Beckett are now scheduled to take place in the UK at the end of this month. All going well with the Sea Trials the ship will be handed over to the Department of Defence and should arrive in Ireland by the end of April 2014. Details of the commissioning of LE Samuel Beckett into operational service will be finalised when the ship arrives in Ireland following handover.

Defence Forces Deployment

 816. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the current compliment of staff at Custume Barracks, Athlone; the timeframe for the new recruitment process in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13325/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  I have been advised by the Military Authorities that the current strength of personnel in Custume Barracks, Athlone is 872.   With regard to recruitment, I announced the launch of a new recruitment campaign for Enlisted Personnel in both the Permanent and the Reserve Defence Force on Friday 7th March 2014. The Government is committed to maintaining the stabilised strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel and this current campaign will enable us to do that. The Defence Forces plan to induct up to 400 personnel to the Permanent Defence Force (both Army and Navy) and up to 500 personnel to the Reserve Defence Force (both Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve) in 2014. This will be the first intake of recruits to the Reserve following on from the reorganisation of the Permanent and Reserve Defence Force in line with the ‘Single Force Concept’ whereby Reserve Units are embedded into Permanent Defence Force Formations.

Applicants for recruitment to both the Permanent and Reserve Defence Force will be required to complete broadly similar assessments including physical fitness and interview assessment. The recruitment competition for both the Permanent and Reserve Defence Force is being run through a centralised online application system on the Defence Forces website www.military.ie.

  It is intended that the new recruits will join the Defence Forces in August or September 2014.

Defence Forces Deployment

 817. 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 total number of Irish Defence Forces personnel currently posted overseas on various missions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13367/14]

 819. 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 total number of personnel current posted from the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps at various trouble spots overseas under the aegis of the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13369/14]

 834. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an update on the current peacekeeping missions in which the State has a role; if he expects to see further requests from the UN for Irish involvement in any other peace keeping operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12881/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 817, 819 and 834 together.

  As of 01 March 2014, Ireland is contributing approximately 404 Defence Forces personnel to 14 different missions throughout the world. Full details of all personnel currently serving overseas, and the total number of personnel currently posted from the Army, Navy and Air Corp to various overseas operations under the aegis of the EU, are listed in the tabular statements attached.

  The main overseas missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 204 personnel, and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) with 112 Defence Forces personnel.

  Other missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the EU Training Mission (EUTM) Somalia with six (6) personnel, the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) with eight (8) personnel; the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina with seven (7) personnel; the NATO-led international security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo with twelve (12) personnel; and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan with seven (7) personnel. Four (4) personnel were deployed in August 2013 for service with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in South Sudan. Ireland also contributes 26 observers and staff to various United Nations and OSCE missions, 3 personnel to the Nordic Battle group headquarters in Sweden and 15 other personnel to staff appointments at UN, EU and OSCE headquarters.

  Defence Forces participation in all overseas missions is reviewed on an ongoing basis. The overall drawdown of ISAF personnel is currently underway and the withdrawal of the Defence Forces personnel will be coordinated in this context. While it is anticipated that Irish personnel will complete their service with the mission in September 2014, this will be kept under review in the context of the proposed NATO led follow on training advisory and assistance mission.

  As regards future deployments of Defence Forces personnel overseas, Ireland receives requests, from time to time, in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis. When considering any particular request, the existence of realistic objectives and a clear mandate, which has the potential to contribute to a political solution, consideration of how the mission relates to the priorities of Irish foreign policy and the degree of risk involved are amongst the factors considered.

  Apart from the recent deployment of personnel to the UNDOF mission, no new deployments are envisaged at this time.

  The current contribution of some 404 personnel to overseas missions reflects the Government’s continued commitment to our responsibilities in the area of international peace and security.

  AS OF 01 MARCH 2014

1.UN MISSIONS
-
-UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) HQ
16
-UNIFIL 42nd Infantry Group
184
-UNIFIL Sector West HQ
4
-UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation ) Israel & Syria
13
-MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara)
3
-MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo)
4
-UNOCI (United Nations Mission in Ivory Coast)
2
-UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) Golan Heights Syria
112
-UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service ) South Sudan
4
-TOTAL
342
-UN MANDATED MISSIONS
-
-EUFOR (EU led Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)
7
-EUTM Somalia (EU led Training Mission)
6
-EUTM Mali (EU led Training Mission)
8
-KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) HQ
12
-ISAF (International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan)
7
-TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH UN MISSIONS
382
2.ORGANISATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE (OSCE)
-
-OSCE Mission to Bosnia & Herzegovina
2
-OSCE Mission in Belgrade – Serbia
1
-Staff Officer, High Level Planning Group Vienna
1
-TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING OSCE
4
3.EU MILITARY STAFF
-
-Brussels
5
4.NORDIC BATTLE GROUP 2015
-
-FHQ Sweden
3
5.MILITARY REPRESENTATIVES/ADVISERS/STAFF
-
-Military Adviser, Permanent Mission to UN, New York
1
-Military Adviser Irish delegation to OSCE, Vienna
1
-Military Representative to EU (Brussels)
4
-Liaison Office of Ireland, NATO/PfP (Brussels)
2
-EU OHQ Operation Althea, Mons, Belgium
1
-Irish Liaison Officer to SHAPE & Military Co-Op Division, Mons, Belgium
1
-TOTAL NUMBER OF DEFENCE FORCES PERSONNEL SERVING OVERSEAS
404


 Irish Defence Forces personnel deployed to missions under the aegis of the EU (21 March 2014)
Mission
Air Corps
Army
Naval Service
Total
EUTM Somalia0606
EUTM Mali0808
EUFOR BiH1607
Total1 20021

Defence Forces Training

 818. 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 ongoing training in respect of Permanent Defence Force in line with international standards continues with particular reference to any potential posting overseas through the aegis of EU-UN; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13368/14]

 820. 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 ongoing training and upgrading of technical support in respect of the Permanent Defence Force continues with a view to ensuring that Army, navy and Air Corps personnel are adequately trained to meet any requirement arising at home or on posting abroad through the aegis of the EU-UN; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13370/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 818 and 820 together.

The Defence Forces has a robust and comprehensive training system which incorporates a wide variety of modern training methods. Training standards in the Defence Forces are constantly benchmarked against best international practice. Participation in ongoing overseas operations also necessitates multilateral-training and assessment. This facilitates ongoing review of Defence Forces training methods and standards within an international military context. Defence Forces personnel continue to have the most modern and effective range of equipment and technology available for their training and day-to-day roles.

Troops selected for overseas service undergo a rigorous programme of training designed to help them carry out their peacekeeping duties, this also includes mission specific training. Pre-deployment training is updated on a regular basis, to include lessons learned from previous missions. Defence Forces personnel serving on all overseas missions are equipped with the most modern and effective equipment. This equipment enables troops to carry out the roles assigned, as well as providing the required protection specific to the mission. Ongoing threat assessments are carried out in mission areas and we continually review both personal equipment and force assets, to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are appropriately equipped to fulfil their roles. I am satisfied that all appropriate security measures are in place to ensure the safety of all Defence Forces personnel serving overseas.

Ireland’s membership of the Partnership for Peace has allowed the Defence Forces to gain access to NATO standards – which are internationally-recognised as representing best practice in military and related matters such as operations, procurement, training, civilian cooperation, etc.

The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces remains a focus for me as Minister for Defence and is a matter that is kept under constant review at a senior level in my Department and in the Defence Forces.

In the current economic climate the budgetary situation will continue to dictate the level of funding available for new equipment, training and equipment upgrades. Decisions will be made accordingly on a strictly prioritised basis in accordance with operational priorities with a view to maintaining the capability of all roles assigned by Government to the Defence Forces.

I am assured by the Chief of Staff that the Defence Forces are adequately equipped and trained to meet the many demands and tasks Government has assigned to them.

  Question No. 819 answered with Question No. 817.

  Question No. 820 answered with Question No. 818.

  Question No. 821 answered with Question No. 148.


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