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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 222 - 230
 Header Item Air Corps Strength
 Header Item Air Corps
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Defence Forces Reorganisation
 Header Item Defence Forces Strength
 Header Item Air Corps Operations

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 222 - 230

Air Corps Strength

 222. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny his plans to address the severe staff shortages in the Air Corps and the lack of experienced personnel available. [14650/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Government is committed to maintaining the stabilised strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel, comprising of 7,520 Army, 886 Air Corps and 1,094 Naval Service as stated in the 2015 White Paper on Defence. The manpower requirement is monitored on an ongoing basis in accordance with the operational requirements of each of the three services. As there is significant turnover of personnel in the Permanent Defence Force, targeted recruitment has been and is currently taking place so as to maintain the agreed strength levels.

Given the improvement in the domestic economy and demand for experienced pilots, the retention of experienced Pilot Officers in the Air Corps has been a significant challenge for the Defence Organisation in recent years, and there has been an outflow of experienced Air Corps Pilot Officers, both rotary and fixed wing. A Working Group comprised of Civil and Military personnel was established to look at ways of addressing the issue of how to retain sufficiently experienced Pilot Officers within the Air Corps. The Working Group’s report contained a number of recommendations ranging from increasing recruitment levels to examining the current terms and conditions of pilots. Work on the implementation of the Working Group’s recommendations is currently ongoing by both Civil and Military staff of the Defence Organisation. While there are a number of initiatives underway, realistically it will take time for a return to previous levels of capability in the Air Corps as pilots within the system progress to become aircraft commanders and newly qualified cadets become co-pilots.

There are currently three Cadet classes totalling 27 personnel at various stages of the Wings Course (this is reduced from the 28 previously reported, where one person has been unable to continue their pilot training) with 7 currently undergoing flight training, and four Apprentice Technician classes totalling 41 personnel in training with 5 due to qualify this summer.

The 2017 Cadetship competition was launched yesterday Wednesday 22 March with a planned intake of up to 12 Cadets in Quarter 3 of 2017. The Defence Forces also plan to launch an Air Corps Trainee Military Aircraft Technician competition in early Summer this year, from which it is planned to induct up to 25 Apprentice Technicians in Autumn 2017.

  Question No. 223 answered with Question No. 219.

Air Corps

 224. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the details, in tabular form, of the budget for the Air Corps for each year since 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14713/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Vote 36 Defence is managed through a single programme with all operational outputs delivered from a single set of forces encompassing the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. Pay and allowances and other support costs for Air Corps personnel are not identified separately, but are included in the overall programme costs in the appropriate subheads of the Vote.

Subhead A.9 (Air Corps: Equipment and Support) provides for specific Air Corps expenditure, including the maintenance of Air Corps equipment, the provision of specialised Air Corps training, the purchase of aviation fuel and aviation support services.

Subhead A.9 annual budget provisions from 2007 to 2017 are outlined in the table below.

A.9 (Air Corps: Equipment and Support) 2007 to 2017

Year 2007* 2008* 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
€m 39.13 39.95 21.2 0 18.6 0 16.4 0 14.5 0 14.1 0 14.1 0 15.45 18.81 16.86
*The budget provision in the years 2007 and 2008 included additional funds to meet the costs of procuring new helicopters.   

The White Paper on Defence has identified the need for the replacement of a number of aircraft in the Air Corps fleet over the coming years and an additional €5 million has been allocated for aircraft replacement in 2017. (These funds are now included in Subhead A8: Defence Forces Capability Development.)

Departmental Expenditure

 225. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the details of any payments made by his Department, its agencies or any bodies under his aegis to any broadcasters here in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016; the broadcaster to which the funds were provided; the reason for the payments; and if there are any reasons for payments to broadcasters in 2017. [14720/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The total amount of payments exclusive of VAT to broadcasters in Ireland for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 are set out in the table.

"Be Winter Ready" Annual Radio Public Information Campaigns 2014 - 2016

Radio Station Amount 2014 Amount 2015 Amount 2016
Dublin Q102 €864.00 €864.00 €648.00
Newstalk €2,383.56 €2,383.56 €2,383.56
KFM Radio €350.25 €350.25 €262.69
Highland Radio €308.32 €308.32 €231.24
Ocean FM €306.83 €306.83 €230.12
MWR €378.01 €378.01 €283.51
Tipp FM €352.14 €352.14 €264.11
Radio Kerry €442.10 €442.10 €331.58
Red FM €559.92 €559.92 €572.40
South East Radio €337.27 €337.27 €252.95
KCLR €350.25 €350.25 €262.69
East Coast Radio €327.96 €327.96 €245.97
Midlands 103 €361.02 €361.02 €270.77
Shannonside/Northside Sound €529.02 €529.03 €396.77
Spin South West €367.26 €367.26 €275.45
TXFM €375.77 €375.77 €0.00
96 FM €2,204.30 €2,204.30 €1,653.23
98 FM €1,568.00 €1,591.04 €1,193.28
Clare FM €311.33 €311.33 €233.50
Galway Bay FM €633.60 €633.60 €475.20
Limerick’s Live 95 FM €691.20 €691.20 €518.40
LMFM €557.60 €557.60 €418.20
RTE Radio 1 €7,520.00 €7,548.00 €7,548.00
TODAY FM €4,371.00 €4,544.00 €0.00
WLR FM €391.20 €391.20 €293.40
Radio Nova €307.20 €307.20 €230.40


  In addition to costs paid to broadcasters there were also production costs associated with the campaign that were not paid to broadcasters. The total figures for this were as follows:-
Costs
Production Costs 1,771.00 600.00 600.00


  My Department intends to run the Be Winter Ready campaign in 2017.

Defence Forces Reorganisation

 226. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if measures implemented in the reorganisation of the Permanent Defence Forces in 2013 will be reversed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14767/17]

 227. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if a third brigade will be re-established in the Army; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14768/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 and 227 together.

As part of a major re-organisation of the Defence Forces in 2012, a decision was taken to consolidate the three under-strength Army brigades into two full strength brigades. The decision to move to a two brigade structure involved full consultation with the Defence Forces, and final proposals approved by the then Minister for Defence were agreed between the Chief of Staff and the Secretary General.

The decision was taken because it was clear that the previous three brigade structure was no longer viable, particularly when compared to international norms. Key aspects of the re-organisation included the consolidation of under-strength units into a smaller number of full strength units, a reduction in the number of headquarters and the associated re-deployment of personnel from administrative and support functions to operational units.

The White Paper on Defence, which was published in 2015, resulted from a comprehensive examination of Defence requirements over a ten year planning horizon and it specifically provides for the retention of the Army’s two Brigade structure.

There are no plans to return to a three brigade structure which would cause a range of unnecessary inefficiencies, such as an increased administrative burden arising from the need to re-introduce a layer of non-operational middle management, and a return to under-strength units.

Defence Forces Strength

 228. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the number of personnel serving at present in the Permanent Defence Forces; the projected enrolment by the end of 2017; the proposals for retention and recruitment of members in 2018-2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14769/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The 2015 White Paper on Defence commits to maintaining the strength of the Permanent Defence Forces at 9,500 personnel, comprising of 7,520 Army, 886 Air Corps and 1,094 Naval Service as stated in the 2015 White Paper on Defence. The strength of the Permanent Defence Forces on 28 Feb 2017 stands at 9,070 (Whole Time Equivalent): Army 7,293, Air Corps 701, Naval Service 1,076.

The Defence Forces has a policy of ongoing recruitment with the objective of returning to and maintaining its stated Establishment figure of 9,500. In total 590 General Service Recruits (501 Army, 89 Naval Service) were inducted in 2016, along with 100 Cadets between all services. Recruitment Campaigns for the Defence Forces will continue in 2017 with the following competitions scheduled to be launched in the early part of the year: Army Cadetship, Army Equitation Cadetship, Army Engineer Cadetship, Air Corps Cadetship, Naval Service Operations Cadetship, Naval Service Marine Engineer Cadetship, Naval Service Electrical Engineer Cadetship, Air Corps Trainee Military Aircraft Technician, Army General Service Recruits, and Naval Service General Service Recruits.

The Defence Forces are planning for the induction of 850 – 900 new entrants in 2017.

To date in 2017, 106 General Service Recruits (103 Army and 3 Navy) and 10 Air Corps Trainee Military Aircraft Technicians have been inducted. Details for recruitment in 2018 and 2019 are yet to be confirmed and the extent of these campaigns will naturally be subject to Defence Forces strength and operational requirements at that time.

A key policy in supporting retention of military personnel is the provision of opportunit ies for extensive personal and professional development offered by the Defence Forces through accredited courses, and the unique features of the military environment. Additionally, in terms of remuneration, the new Public Service Pay Commission has been tasked with providing objective analysis and advice on the most appropriate pay levels for the public service, including the Defence Forces.

Air Corps Operations

 229. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the dates when the Air Corps was unavailable or unable to provide top cover air support for the Coast Guard when performing search and rescue missions between 2014 and to date in 2017. [14770/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Irish Coast Guard provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies. The Irish Coast Guard search and rescue services can draw on the support of the Air Corps on an ‘as available’ basis under a Service Level Agreement between the Department of Defence and the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, the most recent of which has been in place since 2013.

  If requested, and if available, the Air Corps provide Top Cover for the Coast Guard using a CASA fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft. Coast Guard helicopters also provide their own Top Cover during Search & Rescue missions.

  Information in respect of requests to the Air Corps for Search and Rescue Top Cover in the period 2015 to date in 2017 is set out in the table. For operational and security reasons, the dates for missions are not included. I am also advised by the Air Corps that corresponding data in relation to 2014 is not readily available. The reasons why particular requests for Top Cover over this period were declined were for a variety of reason including that the aircraft was undergoing maintenance, no crews were available, crew exceeding permitted flying hours, weather conditions, the aircraft was on another mission or no air traffic control services were available.

Year
Search and Rescue Top Cover requests accepted by the Air Corps
Search and Rescue Top Cover requests declined by the Air Corps
2017 (to-date)
3
3*
2016
2
3
2015
7
4


    One of these requests was received from the UK Coast Guard.

  Question No. 230 answered with Question No. 219.


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