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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 627-649
 Header Item Homeless Persons Supports
 Header Item Child Abuse
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Youth Services Funding
 Header Item Defence Forces Representative Organisations
 Header Item Military Medals
 Header Item Defence Forces Recruitment
 Header Item Defence Forces Reserve Training
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data
 Header Item White Paper on Defence
 Header Item Protected Disclosures Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Remuneration
 Header Item Defence Forces Strength
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Funding
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Naval Service Vessels
 Header Item Naval Service Vessels
 Header Item Defence Forces Properties
 Header Item Defence Forces Training

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 627-649

  Question No. 627 answered with Question No. 623.

Homeless Persons Supports

 628. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the extent to which she has access to the necessary information to address the needs of children of homeless families; if particular referrals or recommendations are received in her Department from the relevant local authorities in circumstances in which there is a risk of children becoming homeless; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15456/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As part of a whole-Government approach to homelessness, my Department is working closely with Tusla to provide supports for families in emergency accommodation in order to mitigate the challenges faced by parents and children in this situation.

As the Deputy will know, Tusla has agreed a joint protocol with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE). This covers child welfare protection matters for children in emergency accommodation. It is fully operational in the DRHE area and it is intended to extend it to Galway, Limerick and Cork this year.

It is important to note that the State only intervenes in family life in exceptional cases. Children who are with their families in emergency accommodation remain in the care of their parent or guardian. If there is a specific child protection concern, Tusla can investigate and take the child into care if necessary. The reporting of any such concerns to Tusla is governed by Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. Where there are no welfare or protection concerns, Tusla’s role is to provide family support, where this is required.

Tusla is providing additional supports to assist families in emergency accommodation. It funds child support workers for this purpose and has also appointed a Homelessness Liaison Officer. My own Department is providing free childcare for homeless children in the Dublin area for up to 25 hours a week. Our Family Resource Centres (FRCs) are working with people who are experiencing homelessness. Many FRCs have already developed a local response to the needs of families in emergency accommodation. These include for example, family fun days, homework support, after school programmes, play therapy and transport services. Tusla will be developing a reporting mechanism this year to record the extent of homeless work in the Family Resource Centres.

In recognition of the difficulties associated with homelessness and school attendance the Educational Welfare Office (EWO) offers a number of supports to children and their families. The DRHE has also arranged Leap cards for homeless families in Dublin to facilitate family days out and for school journeys.

It is of the utmost importance that we minimise the impact of homelessness on children and offer families comprehensive supportive measures, while ultimately working toward eradicating homelessness in Ireland.

Child Abuse

 629. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the average time taken to investigate cases of children at risk of the various forms of abuse; the degree to which a systemic response is in place to deal with such issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15457/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I wish to assure the Deputy that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, deals immediately with emergency cases, including for instance, if a child has been abandoned or is in immediate physical danger or at immediate risk of sexual abuse. Social work duty teams keep high priority cases under review by regularly checking to ascertain risk to the child, and where necessary will reprioritise the case.

  There were 11,732 referrals to Tusla during Q3, 2016 which was (4%) fewer than Q2, 2016. 97% of referrals (Q3, 2016) had a preliminary enquiry carried out. Approximately 68% of preliminary enquiries were completed within 24 hours of receipt of the referral and 41% of referrals required an initial assessment.

  Each referral received by Tusla is assessed and dealt with on an individual basis by the relevant social work team. Approximately 60% of referrals to Tusla are of a child welfare concern with the remaining 40% related to child protection concerns. Tusla's policy is to refer child welfare referrals to relevant family and community support services. At any stage, if a determination is made that there is abuse, whether physical, emotional, sexual or neglect, from which there is an ongoing risk of significant harm, the child protection pathway is followed. In a minority of cases this may lead to the child being placed on the Child Protection Notification System (CPNS) or the child being received into care.

  Upon receipt of an appropriate referral, the Duty Social Worker carries out preliminary enquiries, including checking to see if the case is already open or known to child protection services, clarifies the nature of the concern, contacts key professional, that is, public health nurses or teachers, and records the child and family details. It is possible that referrals can be closed at this stage or referred to another service (for instance to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). If the threshold for a child protection initial assessment is not met but a child has an unmet need then this may be addressed as a child welfare concern by local support services organised through the Local Area Pathways/Meitheal as a Family Support Plan.

  A referral becomes an open case (one per child) when it meets the criteria to need an initial assessment. It will be given a priority level of high, medium and low, depending on the information available.

Children in Care

 630. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children currently in foster care; the number in protective residential care; the extent of the ongoing demand arising from the need to ensure the welfare and well-being of all such children; the availability of the required personnel and resources; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15458/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The latest figures from Tusla indicate that, at the end of December 2016, there were 6,258 children in care. Of these, 5,817 (93%) were in foster care and 316 (5%) were in residential care. Foster care is the main form of alternative care for children in need of care and protection, and it is the preferred option for children who cannot live with their parent(s)/guardian(s). Of the 5,817 children in foster care, there were 4,102 (66%) in a general foster care placement and 1,715 (27%) were in care with relatives. Residential care is the placement of choice for older children who have needs that are best met by this placement type. In general, residential care is based in domestic style homes, catering for 2 or 3 older children.

All children in care should have an allocated social worker but it is important to note that if a child has not been allocated a social worker, the cases are reviewed regularly by the principal social worker and are managed by duty social work teams to support the child's needs. At the end of December 2016, 93% of all children in care had an allocated social worker (6,258/5,805). All but two children in residential care had an allocated social worker.

Tusla current has 1,467 WTE social workers and an end of 2017 target of 1,520 WTE. This target is short of the target set in Survival to Sustainability by approximately 100 WTE and reflects the constraints of the social work labour supply. Funding is in place to address the issue of unallocated cases, however, the recruitment environment for social workers is very challenging. With only 250 graduating a year it is a very competitive labour market for social workers in Ireland. Tusla has taken a proactive approach to recruitment and has focussed its attention not only on recruiting social workers in Ireland but also the UK.

Tusla will continue to be as proactive as possible in the market to close the social work shortfall. However, Tusla is also focusing on being able to intervene at an early stage of a family difficulty through social care and family supports. Accordingly, Tusla is prioritising the recruitment of an additional 100 Family Support Practitioners, 166 social care staff and an additional 25 administrative staff to allow social workers to focus on their core work with children and their families.

Youth Services Funding

 631. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the extent to which she can provide adequate funding for youth services and youth development services countrywide, with particular reference to areas of social and economic deprivation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15459/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am pleased to confirm that I have allocated an extra €5.5m in current funding to support the provision of youth services in 2017. This will bring the total youth funding by my Department to €57.4m, an increase of 10% over last year's allocation. The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services.

My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country. As the Deputy may be aware, a number of funding schemes supporting youth services were the subject of a Value for Money and Policy Review in 2014. Work on the development of a new funding scheme has been prioritised by my Department and consultations with youth services are continuing with a view to introducing the new youth funding programme as soon as possible.

My Department has embarked on an exercise, in conjunction with Pobal and each Education and Training Board (ETB) Youth Officer, which will map youth service provision across the State. This mapping exercise will assist my Department and the relevant ETB in developing a detailed socio-demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels.

It is my intention that this mapping exercise will inform future development and investment in youth services.

Defence Forces Representative Organisations

 632. 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 if there has been a review of the industrial relations process for Defence Forces representative associations, in view of the new arrangements being explored for Garda associations. [15145/17]

 633. 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 if he has initiated a review of the parallel process and internal sectoral conciliation and arbitration scheme of the Defence Forces, in view of recent Government policy with respect to similar arrangements that were in place for the Garda associations. [15146/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I propose to take Question Nos. 632 and 633 together.

The Conciliation and Arbitration scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) provides a formal mechanism for their Representative Associations, RACO and PDFORRA, to engage with the Official side. The purpose of the scheme is to provide a means for the determination of claims and proposals from the Associations relating to remuneration and conditions of service.

Since their establishment in 1993, there have been significant developments and improvements in the pay and conditions of military personnel. The Representative Associations have been to the fore in advancing the interests of their members in this regard, bringing them in line generally with the pay and conditions available in other public service employments. Officials from my Department continue to work with the Representative Associations in a positive and collaborative process within the C&A Scheme which points to the effectiveness of the scheme for resolving IR issues. It is open to the Representative Associations to submit claims to the Official side in relation to matters falling within the C&A scheme. Generally claims relate to pay and conditions, award of allowances etc. When submitted, these claims are generally the subject of negotiations and where agreement is not reached it is open to both sides to seek the assistance of an adjudicator to settle the matter.

A number of mechanisms have also been put in place through the Defence Forces Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme which provides the Representative Associations with structures and processes, which enable them to make representations and negotiate on behalf of their members. In addition, a framework exists which facilitates the Associations engaging with the official side in talks parallel to those taking place between ICTU and the official side at National level.

I have received representations from PDFORRA seeking to have access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court made available to them, in the event of any future legislative changes being made to provide An Garda Síochána with access to same. My officials are considering this submission in light of the review being undertaken by the Department of Justice and Equality Working Group on access to the Industrial Relations Structures for An Garda Síochána. I will reply to PDFORRA when the outcome of the current considerations in relation to the Garda Síochána is to hand. However, at this point in time I remain satisfied that the current arrangements fully satisfy the requirements in terms of access to appropriate negotiation, conciliation and independent adjudication to address any issues raised by PDFORRA.

Military Medals

 634. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if the State will officially recognise the involvement of a person (details supplied) in actions in Easter Week 1916; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14949/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The person in question made an application for a Certificate of Military Service under the Military Service Pensions Act 1924, in relation to his service from 1 April 1916 to 30 June 1922. His application was assessed by the Board of Assessors (a Judge and two senior Old IRA officers) which was constituted under that Act to assess such applications and service. Although he had claimed for Easter 1916 service, the Board did not award him service for pension purposes in respect of this period. He was, however, awarded a Certificate of Military Service for the period 1 April 1920 to 30 September 1923 (including service in the National Army).

  Section 3(6) of the Military Service Pensions Act 1924 provided that the Board of Assessors could at any time re-open their findings at the request of the Minister on the ground that evidence not previously available was now available. The person in question did subsequently appeal to the then Minister for Defence in 1928 to have his case re-opened but his appeal was unsuccessful.

  The power given to the Board of Assessors to reopen findings was removed by the Military Services Pensions Act 1949. There is now no statutory provision to re-open the findings of the Board. The process by which applications and petitions or appeals under the Military Service Pensions Acts were made, investigated and verified was wound up in 1958 and there is no statutory or other mechanism available now by which service can be investigated or verified.

  The 1916 Medal was awarded to persons who were awarded 1916 service under the Military Service Pensions Acts, or to those who did not apply for a pension but who satisfied the Minister that they would have been awarded 1916 service if they had applied under the Acts.

  There are witness statements held in the Military Archives which are stated to be relevant to this case. I understand these are Witness Statements from the Bureau of Military History. Decisions regarding the award of medals/pensions are dependent on verification and corroborative evidence of the service involved. Unfortunately, the ‘Witness Statements’ which were collected from 1947-1957, were not verified and tested as part of a formal process under the relevant Acts, and therefore they cannot be accepted as evidence of service.

  I should however say that the relevant pension files, which include material relating to his claimed activities in relation to Easter Week 1916, are now publicly available online on the Military Archives website www.militaryarchives.ie. His activities in Easter Week 1916, while not reaching the threshold for a pension and thus a 1916 medal, are a matter of public record. The Service Medal (1917-1921), with bar, was awarded to the person in question in respect of his service during the 1917-1921 period.   

  Unfortunately, I am not in a position to do anything further regarding the issue of a 1916 Medal but I hope this helps to clarify matters.

  In 2016 the State undertook a comprehensive programme of commemorations to mark the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising. The Government was committed to ensuring that 2016 would be a year of rich and diverse activities with the focus on remembering and honouring those who took part in the 1916 Rising.  Throughout 2016 some 45 official events commemorated their contribution and bravery.

  As part of the planning process for these events my Department was assigned responsibility for registering and maintaining the list of relatives of those who took part in the 1916 events who had expressed an interest in attending events to mark the centenary.

  I can confirm that the relatives of the person whose details were supplied by the Deputy did register and were invited to attend events in 2016.

Defence Forces Recruitment

 635. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the extent to which promotional vacancies remain to be filled in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; the steps he is taking for recruitment throughout Ireland and especially in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14977/17]

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, comprising of 7,520 Army, 886 Air Corps and 1,094 Naval Service personnel, as stated in the 2015 White Paper on Defence.

The manpower requirement of the Defence Forces 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. I am advised by the Military Authorities that the Defence Forces are planning to induct 860 new entrants across all services and competition streams in 2017.

A new General Service Recruitment campaign was launched on 23 February 2017, as part of the Government’s commitment to maintain the strength of the Defence Forces at 9,500 personnel. To publicise this recruitment campaign, an Interactive recruitment video was launched on 10 March 2017. In addition, a Recruitment Roadshow will take place between 23 March 2017 and 4 April 2017. The Roadshow will visit every Military Barracks in the country and provide an opportunity for potential Recruits to be immersed in a capability display, a virtual reality experience, and receive fitness testing briefs with an opportunity to speak to young soldiers serving today.

The intake of Cadets into the Permanent Defence Force is normally carried out on an annual basis, taking into consideration the operational requirements of the Defence Forces and the resource envelope allocated to Defence. The 2017 Cadetship competitions were launched on 22 March 2017.

Direct Entry Competitions are also held as required from which specialist appointments are filled. A recruitment campaign for the appointment of Direct Entry Naval Service Officers, in the Operations Branch, Marine Engineer Branch and Electrical Engineer Branch of the Naval Service, is currently on-going.

In relation to promotional vacancies, promotions are ongoing within the Officer ranks in order to fill rank vacancies. A new NCO promotion competition, to fill vacancies to the ranks of Sergeants and above, has been launched. Promotions from the Order of Merit Lists from this competition will commence in Q3 2017. Promotions at Corporal rank take place at formation/service level when vacancies arise within Units and where there are qualified personnel in these Units to fill the appointments.

It is my intention that targeted recruitment along with promotions , will continue to be carried out within the resource envelope allocated to Defence.

Defence Forces Reserve Training

 636. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the degree to which all members of the Reserve Defence Force have access to training on an annual basis throughout the country and particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14978/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The primary function of training and education in both the Permanent Defence Force and Reserve Defence Force is to develop and maintain capabilities necessary to enable personnel to fulfil the roles laid down by Government. The scheduling of training in the Defence Forces, including the Reserve, is underpinned by an analysis of training needed to meet operational output requirements and capability development needs.

For the current year, Subhead A.5 provides for a budget of €2.15 million of which €2.068 million is allocated for a total of 26,000 Paid Training Mandays for members of the Reserve. Of this figure, 25,250 Mandays will provide a minimum of seven (7) days annual paid training for all effective members of the Reserve. This provision also allows for fourteen (14) days paid training for all personnel newly recruited to the Reserve Defence Force (in their first year of induction), and also provides for career and specialist courses for selected members of the Reserve in line with Reserve priorities. This provision is sufficient having regard to the existing strength of the Reserve and the voluntary nature of Reserve training. The remaining 750 Mandays are allocated to provide for Reserve Defence Force Representative Association (RDFRA) business.

While the minimum provision of paid training days is 7, members of the Reserve may avail of additional paid training days, up to a total of 28 days, in the context of career courses, specialist and other additional training. Members of the Reserve who wish to undertake additional training beyond the allowance of twenty-eight (28) paid man days may do so with prior written approval from the Department of Defence. This facility applies to all members of the Reserve Defence Forces irrespective of where they are based.

In order to facilitate the voluntary nature of Reserve Service, training continues to be organised both in and out of normal working hours and at weekends. Reserve training is also organised during academic and traditional holiday periods, in order to maximise attendance of Reserve personnel.

I am satisfied that the extensive and professional training provided to the Reserve Defence Forces is a key motivating factor which will encourage more people to join it as well as retaining existing personnel.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

 637. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the number of women currently serving in the Defence Forces; the number who have been promoted over the past five years throughout Ireland and particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14979/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The number of females serving in the Permanent Defence Force at present is 570 personnel (whole time equivalent) across all ranks, representing 6.28% of total strength.

  There have been, in total, 243 promotions of female personnel in the last five (5) full years broken down as shown in the table. As promotions come on stream nationwide it is not possible to isolate particular numbers on a county-by-county basis.

FEMALE PROMOTIONS 2012-2016

2012
2013
2014​
2015
2016
​OFFICERS
21
28
26
26
41
​OTHER RANKS
11
45
14
21
10

White Paper on Defence

 638. 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 88 actions to be progressed in the Government’s White Paper on Defence. [15040/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The White Paper on Defence sets the defence policy agenda for the next ten years. The table sets out the 88 actions or projects which have been specifically identified as a subset of the totality of the work being carried out to implement the White Paper. I would note that one project in relation to capability development is divided into 7 sub projects.

  Implementation of these specific actions will be carried out on a phased basis over a ten year period. Implementation on a phased basis is necessary in order to reflect Programme for Partnership Government and Strategy Statement commitments, the related nature of some projects and resourcing implications. This process is being kept under review and will be subject to change as issues arise and other business dictates.   

No.
Page
Commitments
  
Chapter 3
1
24
It is important that the approach to the assessment of security and associated arrangements governing this are kept under review. Any necessary measures to enhance these will be taken in the light of consideration of developments and approaches at national and international levels.
2
29
The Defence Organisation will develop both civil and military capabilities and capacity across the full spectrum of activity, including defence policy and administration, so as to support the comprehensive approach to crisis management, post conflict stabilisation and Security Sector Reform. It will also develop, in concert with partners and other like-minded states, joint initiatives to this end.
3
29
Review Ireland's declared contribution to UNSAS and the EU Headline Goal; to include consideration of the potential deployability of the full range of Defence Forces' capabilities including Army, Air Corps and Naval Service capabilities and assets on peace support and crisis management operations.
4
29
Progress options for building on existing bilateral relations through staff exchanges, exploring the option of Defence Attaché appointments to key EU member states/third countries where appropriate, developing bilateral MOUs and more regular civil/military staff to staff engagements.
   
5
30
Engagement with the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI), the Planning and Review Process (PARP), and the Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC).
6
31
Opportunities will continue to be identified to expand Ireland’s participation in multi-national capability development projects within the framework of the EDA in support of Defence Forces’ operations, capacity and capability.
7
31
Engage with other stakeholders, in response to matters raised by the United Nations Secretary General, to explore the contribution of gender focused measures in peacekeeping, particularly in relation to the appropriate deployment of female personnel.
8
34
Develop the new Institute for Peace Support and Leadership Training at the Curragh by (1) Evaluating the new concept; (2) Advancing its objectives; to showcase the initial concept during 2016.
9
40
Explore further areas of greater synergy with Departments and agencies with responsibility in the maritime area to ensure the best and most efficient use of all state resources. This will encompass a more risk based approach and the use of new technologies.
10
40
Ask the Chair of the National Maritime Security Committee to initiate an examination of maritime security arrangements, including governance arrangements with a view to bringing forward recommendations, if required, to enhance the provision of maritime security.
   
11
41
A review of Ireland’s NRA, including those emergencies/crises that may threaten or impact on national security, will be undertaken in late 2015 by a subgroup of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning.
12
43
Develop an SLA with DCENR with regard to support CSIRT-IE.

13
47
Develop an SLA with Irish Aid relating to participation by members of the Defence Forces in the emergency Civil Assistance Team (ECAT) initiative.
  
Chapter 4
14
51
The Department and the Army Equitation School will develop more formal arrangements with equitation bodies such as Horse Sport Ireland, Teagasc, Royal Dublin Society, National Sports Campus and the Institute for Sport. The School will be reviewed to maximise its utility for nurturing talent while promoting the Irish horse.
15
51
To develop the Defence Forces School of Music, including possible linkages with relevant educational institutions.
16
52
Based on the outcome of the pilot, and having considered the report of the [EAS]Working Group, the establishment of a permanent service was approved by Government in July 2015. The Government’s decision provided that whilst the current service model will continue, the service will be subject to ongoing review in the context of ensuring a sustainable long term service arrangement.
17
53
The Department will identify opportunities for co-operative collaborative engagement between the Defence Forces and Irish-based enterprise and research institutes, including third level colleges.
18
54
Develop the Defence Enterprise Initiative further including establishing a Security and Defence Enterprise Group to support Irish-based enterprise in their engagement with the EDA and in accessing EDA and Horizon 2020 programmes, to the benefit of Irish Enterprise and Defence Forces capability.
19
54
In the context of ongoing engagement it will be necessary to resolve the issues of intellectual property rights and possible endorsement of such products or research. Develop a policy on intellectual property rights and endorsement.
20
54
In consultation with Enterprise Ireland, the Department and Defence Forces will examine current procurement processes with a view to improving the potential for Irish enterprise to compete for Defence contracts.
   
21
55
In pursuing its overall goal and consistent with capability requirements, the Department will give appropriate stimulation to innovation networks which may include state actors, institutes of higher education, research centres and progressive entrepreneurial companies.
22
55
Develop a new employment support scheme with the direct involvement of the Defence Forces.
23
56
The Department will give serious consideration to developing renewable energy solutions on defence lands and installations.
   
24
56
The Department will initiate a new Bill which will revoke all existing Red Cross legislation with certain provisos.
   
  
Chapter 6
25
62
Fuse information from the land, air and maritime domains into a joint Common Operational Picture (COP).

26
63
The Secretary General and Chief of Staff will jointly undertake a review of the current high level command and control structures in the Defence Forces, having regard to international best practice on military command and control and drawing upon external expertise. This will include a review of structures for managing joint operations and intelligence.
27
65
From a national view point and having regard to the need to minimise threats to the safely of personnel, the Department of Defence will examine the option of maintaining a rapid deployment capacity, at Company level, to support or reinforce overseas contingents if the situation so demands.
28
65
Measures will be taken to further enhance the capabiilties of the Army Ranger Wing in particular with the aim of increasing the strength of the Unit considerably.
29
66
Incorporate the following into the HLPPG's work agenda and in due course a new equipment plan, which will form a sub-set of a broader capability development plan.
A
Implement the most cost effective approach to maintaining APC capabilities
B
Replace existing five Cessnas, with three larger aircraft suitably equipped for ISTAR tasks.
C
Replace existing CASA 235s with consideration being given to larger more capable aircraft.
   
D
Procure a small number of Armoured Logistic Vehicles for Overseas missions
E
Replace the LÉ Eithne with a multi-role vessel (MRV). enabled for helicopter operations and have a freight carrying capacity.
F
Replace the two existing Coastal Patrol Vessels, the LÉ Ciara and LÉ Orla with similar vessels with counter-mine and counter-IED capabilities.
   
G
In the event of additional funding becoming available, beyond that required to maintain existing capabilities, consideration will be given to the development a primary radar surveillance capability, acquisition of additional ships for the NS and additional APCs and varients, Light Tactical Armoured vehicles and additional air defence capabilities for the Army in line with the Capability Development Plan.
30
68
Consider the development of a more capable air combat/intercept capability as part of the White Paper update
31
68
The Department will develop a detailed capability development plan, building on the work completed as part of the White Paper process.
   
32
69
Fulfil requirement to carry out major building refurbishment in areas including Haulbowline, Casement Aerodrome, McKee Barracks and the Curragh Camp.
   
33
70
Develop a co-ordinated 5 year infrastructure development plan that reflects, on a priority needs basis, an approach for all infrastructure development requirements for the life time of the White Paper. The first step of the plan is to assess the main barracks and facilities.
34
71
Review the current training lands portfolio and the necessary infrastructure to develop them to meet the standards required by the Defence Forces.
35
71
Undertake a review of the legislative framework to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
   
  
Chapter 7
36
73
Implement the Defence Forces' competency framework, currently being developed, for recruitment, development, performance management and promotion.
37
73
Design, develop and implement a merit based promotion system for all ranks .
38
74
Undertake, in the medium term, a review of civil and military roles/functions to determine the optimum mix of civil service, civilian and military personnel to address both operational and support roles within the Defence Organisation.
39
74
Conduct a gap-analysis of skill-sets within the PDF to identify the frequency of gaps and appropriate measures to address them.
40
75
Conduct, in the medium term, a review of HR policies in relation to recruitment, training and education, performance management, reward systems, and retention and retirement policies alongside appropriate age profiles for personnel across the Defence Forces.
41
75
The Defence Forces will review and develop rolling medium term manpower planning requirements so as to deliver an effective and efficient workforce mix. Current personnel policies to support this will be further developed and implemented.
   
42
75
The Defence Forces will raise awareness and attract recruits from all backgrounds so the Defence Forces, both Permanent and Reserve, reflect the society that they serve. The Defence Forces will assess the effects of ongoing initiatives in the medium term.
   
43
76
Review external accreditation to ensure an appropriate balance is achieved between maintaining required skills and capability, and retention and retirement/exit objectives.
44
77
The Defence Forces will review its performance management and annual appraisal systems to ensure that they fully support the Defence Forces capability requirements consistent with the new Integrated Competency Framework. (Linked to No. 36)
45
77
Develop and incorporate a scheme of commissioning officers from enlisted personnel ranks.
46
77
Consider a scheme to enable lateral career moves within the Defence Forces across the three services.
   
47
77
Develop succession planning and smoother processes for filling key posts. (Linked to 36)
   
48
78
Identify and examine any impediments to maximise the candidate field for promotion consistent with service and performance.
   
49
78
The Department will undertake a review of the overall pay and allowance structures with a view to the simplification and standardisation of the remuneration system in the Defence Forces.
50
78
Conduct a programme of reviews of the terms and conditions applying across the services, ranks and technical staff with a view to greater standardisation within the overall system.
   
51
78
Implement a range of systems, procedures & scheduled training to ensure PDF preparedness for transition to civilian life after military service.
52
78
Develop a career platform or portal for exiting personnel to give them a direct bridge to employers to assist them in making the transition to a career in civilian life.
53
78
Defence Forces Human Resources will create a career portfolio for interested exiting members of the PDF listing their military qualifications alongside the level of the qualification on the national framework of qualifications (NFQ) where relevant.
54
78
The Department's Human Resources Branch will provide support in CV preparation for exiting civilian employees.
55
79
Develop further initiatives to encourage more women to apply for the Defence Forces and to increase female participation at all ranks.
   
56
79
Conduct a survey to identify any impediments to the advancement of women in the PDF.
   
57
79
Develop and actively manage a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy in the Defence Forces, building on existing policies in relation to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and equality.
58
79
Operational requirements, overseas postings, training courses, career courses and the availability of development opportunities will be reviewed to ensure that they do not discriminate on the basis of gender or familial responsibility, while retaining the integrity of the course and training requirement.
59
85
Further develop the supports available to exiting personnel and veterans.
60
87
The Department will commence an organisational capability review within the next twelve months.
61
88
The Department will explore opportunities for joint training with Defence Forces' personnel in light of the "Comprehensive Approach".
   
62
89
Regarding Civilian Employee vacancies, the Department will, in the short term, initiate a programme of targeted recruitment to address priority vacancies. In the medium term, the Department will identify the areas that are most in need.
63
89
The Department will establish a planning group consisting of representatives of Civilian HR and the military authorities to undertake a gap analysis to identify supply and demand and will identify core requirements. It will examine the existing service delivery model and make recommendations on a service delivery framework.
64
92
The Department will examine the existing approach where a catastrophic injury is incurred with the objective of creating a less adversarial system.
  
Chapter 8
65
97
Revise the terms and conditions of FLR membership and examine the case for the current gratuity.
66
97
Develop the necessary regulatory changes and service criteria (of the FLR) in consultation with all stakeholders.
   
67
98
The Department will review the provisions of the Defence Acts and bring forward proposals for any changes that may be required in order to reflect the possible crisis situations where activation of members of the Reserve may be appropriate.
68
99
Establishment of the NSR increased to 300.
69
99
Consideration will be given to the activation of Reserve Sub-Units for short periods of training with PDF Units or other support tasks.
70
100
Establish a panel of professionally qualified members of the Reserve, to be known as the Specialist Reserve.
   
71
100
Conduct a skills survey to identify individuals in the FLR, AR and NSR with relevant professional qualifications and their potential availability.
   
72
100
The Department will identify the options available to underpin the engagement of the members of these Specialist Reserve, whose personal circumstances would allow them to undertake required tasks, including on overseas missions.
73
100
Progress, in consultation with the Representative Associations, the possibilities for members of the Reserve with specialist skills to assist the PDF in a voluntary unpaid capacity.
   
74
100
The Secretary General, in conjunction with the Chief of Staff, will bring forward proposals for the operation of a scheme that affords a small number of suitably qualified members of the RDF the opportunity to undertake operational duties at home and overseas.
75
100
Replace the term "effective" with the term "active".
76
100
The Department will give consideration to the establishment of a database of former members of the AR, NSR, FLR and PDF who could be called upon to volunteer in a crisis situation, by listing these as an "Inactive Reserve".
77
101
The Department will incorporate the review of progress on the implementation of the findings of the 2012 Review of the RDF into the overarching review process.
   
  
Chapter 9
78
104
Progress new Civil Defence legislation with a view to providing a more modern aggregated piece of governing legislation.
79
104
The Department (Civil Defence Branch) will take the lead role in the Government's new Inter-agency Guidance Team (IGT) being established in order to enhance liaison under the Major Emergency Management.
80
105
Explore opportunities for further Civil Defence SLAs.
  
Chapter 10
81
110
The Secretary General and the Chief of Staff will develop a plan that seeks to optimise mutual civil-military synergies and consider further models of integrated working between the various civil and military branches of the Department. (includes consideration of a central procurement cell)
82
110
The Secretary General, in conjunction with the Chief of Staff, will prepare a specific short-term review to assess the increased capacity required in staffing in international fora.
83
110
The Department and Defence Forces will put in place further joint civil-military training initiatives, building on the new induction course.
84
111
The Department will ensure the successful delivery of the defence component of the Financial Management Shared Services.
   
85
112
Assess the future geographical layout of the Department taking account of a forthcoming organisational capability review of the civil service branches and the outcome and timing of further shared services developments.
86
114
The Government intends putting in place a new fixed cycle of defence reviews; every three years there will be a White Paper update with a strategic defence review every 6 years. The Government will consider putting the new review process on a statutory footing, having engaged in a process of all-party consultation to seek to put the proposals for defence review on a consensual basis.
87
116
Develop further procurement approaches that are more collaborative or involve joint procurement through engagement with other countries or through the EDA and increased recourse to direct purchasing on a Government to Government basis...
88
117
The Government are establishing a specific defence funding study to capture in a new way the expected long-term costs of meeting Ireland's defence requirements using a ten year planning horizon linked to the proposed new framework of fixed cycle reviews. A comprehensive approach, linked to the new defence review architecture, needs to provide a fully elaborate picture for Government of the choices and their resource implications.

Protected Disclosures Data

 639. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the process within his Department for dealing with protected disclosures under the 2014 Act; if the examinations of such disclosures are carried out by an independent authority or persons other than those within the organisation to which the disclosure refers; the number of disclosures received by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15072/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe My Department has a written policy and procedures in place in relation to protected disclosures which came into effect in December 2015. Where a disclosure is made the policy provides for the following steps:

  - the basis of the concerns raised by the worker are clarified and determination made as to whether it falls within the scope of this Policy;

  - the issue raised is risk assessed and immediate action taken if the alleged wrongdoing involves a serious loss or danger to others. Depending on the seriousness of the allegations, it may be necessary to refer the matter to other appropriate authorities (e.g. An Garda Síochána; external enforcement agency or regulator, C&AG’s office).

  - If it is established that the disclosure falls within the scope of this Policy it is then referred for investigation;   

  - If, having assessed the disclosure, it is deemed to relate to day to day operational matters the person making the Disclosure will be advised that these should in the first instance be brought to the attention of the relevant line manager and dealt with accordingly; and

  - If, having assessed the disclosure, it is deemed to relate solely to a personal grievance then the person making the Disclosure will be advised that the Civil Service grievance procedure is the appropriate process for addressing such issues.

  The approach to the investigation of protected disclosures is decided having regard to the individual circumstances of each case. My Department has engaged independent third parties to carry out investigations where it deems appropriate.

  My Department has received 6 disclosures which, having been assessed, were deemed protected disclosures under the provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. In addition, I am in receipt of five other disclosures which are being assessed in relation to the provisions of the Act.

Defence Forces Remuneration

 640. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if arrears of pay due to members of the Army Ranger Wing, owed since 2010, will now be paid; the total amount due to persons and the numbers involved; the reason the payment due was not paid on time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15086/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe On 27 September 2010 the Adjudicator under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force awarded an increase in the Army Ranger Wing allowance. This award is backdated to 1 June 2006. The Adjudicator’s Findings cannot be implemented having regard to the provisions of Sections 2 and 5 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009.

This adjudication is part of the outstanding adjudication findings covered under paragraph 1.16 of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014.  Paragraph 5.3 of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2018, known as the Lansdowne Road Agreement, states that “The Parties have agreed that any outstanding adjudications as referred to in paragraph 1.16 of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 will be reviewed jointly by the Parties prior to the expiry of this agreement.” The review mechanism is the subject of ongoing consideration in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

As the Army Ranger Wing is the Special Operations Force of the Defence Forces the exact number of personnel in it or their location is not released into the public domain, for reasons of operational security. In addition, factors such as the level of recruitment into the ARW and the numbers serving can vary over time which would impact in calculating the estimated costings in the manner sought by the Deputy. In the circumstances, I am not in a position to provide the costing in the format sought.

Defence Forces Strength

 641. 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 the measures he has taken to resolve critical resourcing since being notified of restricted outputs due to manpower shortages in June 2016 in view of recent reports that confirm the inadequate resourcing of Defence Forces units such as pilots and air traffic controllers. [15156/17]

 643. 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 the short, medium and long-term Defence Forces strategic human resource measures that are being considered to address the manning crisis in order to deliver the critical State outputs that are designed and mandated by Government. [15158/17]

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. 641 and 643 together.

The 2015 White Paper on Defence sets the defence policy agenda for the next ten years. It also highlights a number of medium and long term strategies in the area of manpower planning. The White Paper addresses the need to review and develop medium term planning requirements so as to deliver an effective and efficient mix in terms of age profile, skills, competencies and experience, and current policies to support this will be further developed and implemented. To that end, White Paper projects are currently underway and are being jointly developed by military and civil personnel.

In addition, the purpose of the recent Defence Forces Climate Survey is to inform consideration of the ongoing human resource and strategic needs of the Defence Forces. The responses to the issues raised in the Climate Survey resulted in the formulation of an Action Plan which is being led by the Chief of Staff.

The Government in the White Paper on Defence 2015, committed to a Permanent Defence Force establishment of at least 9,500 serving personnel. To this end, the Defence Forces have recruited 690 personnel in 2016 and have an overall recruitment target of 850 to 900 personnel across all three services in this current year. The Defence Forces continue to recruit at cadet, specialist and general service levels for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. Both the General Service and Cadet competitions are currently open and competitions for direct entry watch keepers in the Naval Service will result in inductions shortly.

The retention of personnel, particularly experienced Pilot Officers in the Air Corps, has been a significant challenge for the Defence Organisation in recent years. Actions are underway to return a full level of air traffic control services to the Air Corps. In relation specifically to the resourcing of Air Traffic Controllers, six (6) Air Traffic Services personnel are part-way through their training and a further eight students commenced training on Monday, 27 March 2017. 

At present there are 3 Cadet Classes, totalling 27 personnel at various stages of Pilot Officer training. Of the 27, seven (7) are due to qualify as pilots at the end of 2017. In addition, an Air Corps Pilot Cadetship competition was launched on 22 March 2017, with a planned intake of up to 12 Cadets in the third quarter of this year. However, it will take some time for cadets, when qualified, to develop their skills and expertise. It is envisaged that a return to previous levels of capability in the Air Corps will be a gradual process and will be governed by the overarching requirements of safety.

There are a number of wider initiatives in place to address recruitment and retention across the Defence Forces. One of the key policies supporting personnel retention is the opportunity for extensive personal and professional development offered by the Defence Forces through accredited courses, and the unique features of the military environment. It is also the case that the extensive professional training they receive makes them very attractive within the private sector. Additionally, 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.

In relation to the Reserve Defence Force, it is anticipated that the next recruitment campaign will commence in the second half of 2017. Under the current phase of implementation of White Paper actions two relate specifically to the RDF i.e. attracting recruits from all backgrounds and conducting a skills survey with a view to establishing a Specialist Reserve.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

 642. 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 if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Army units are inadequately staffed by commissioned officers, with less than 50% actual strength in station. [15157/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The following table shows the establishment figure for Commissioned Officers in the Army versus actual whole time equivalent strength numbers on 31 January 2017 and demonstrates that actual serving strength of Officer Ranks is approximately 92 % at present.

 Lt Gen Maj Gen Brig Gen Col Lt Col Comdt Capt Lt TOTAL
ARMY Establishment Figure
1
2
6
34
110
257
306
167
883
ARMY STRENGTH*
1
2
6
31
103
255
261
165
815
Officer Strength as % of Establishment Figure
10 0%
10 0%
10 0%
91.8 %
93.64 %
9 9.22 %
8 5.29 %
98 .80 %
92. 30%
  * All strengths are given as Whole Time Equivalents.

  Question No. 643 answered with Question No. 641.

Defence Forces Funding

 644. 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 if the failure to address the manning crisis in the Defence Forces since 2013 is a planned measure to create the necessary payroll savings to purchase essential equipment platforms. [15159/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Permanent Defence Force (PDF) pay provision in Vote 36 Defence provides for, and is fully funded to meet, the payroll costs of the target strength of 9,500 personnel.

Despite the required reduction in public sector funding and reduced resource envelope available in recent years, ongoing recruitment to the PDF has continued. The White Paper on Defence has confirmed the Government’s commitment to maintain PDF strength at the 9,500 level. In 2015, 416 personnel were inducted into the Defence Forces, with 690 inducted in 2016. With regard to 2017, I recently launched a recruitment campaign which targets 860 new entrants across the Defence Forces this year.

Notwithstanding these significant recruitment endeavours, there have been savings on pay and allowances in the Defence Vote due to the high number of retirements. These savings have been utilised to purchase and upgrade essential equipment. It is my priority to ensure that the Defence Forces continue to have the necessary level of resources, both personnel and equipment, required to fulfil all the roles assigned to them by Government, into the future.

Insurance Costs

 645. 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 cost of insurance under different insurance headings such as public liability, buildings cover, employer liability and so on for his Department and each body under its aegis; the name of the insurance provider for each year since 2010, in tabular form; the number of current outstanding insurance claims against his Department or the body under its aegis; the estimated cost of those claims, if available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15177/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Apart from Civil Defence, all other elements of the Defence Organisation are covered under State indemnity through the State Claims Agency.

  Civil Defence is unique in that it operates as a partnership between the Department of Defence and local authorities. Civil Defence policy is set down by the Minister for Defence through the Department of Defence. Civil Defence services are delivered at local level in each Local Authority. Civil Defence services are administered by a Civil Defence Officer (CDO) who is a full time employee of the local authority. Volunteer members are recruited to local Civil Units through the relevant local authority.

  The Local Authorities are not covered under the state indemnity arrangements with the State Claims Agency. The Department of Defence has insurance policies in place to cover for Civil Defence.     

  The overall annual payments made for insurance for Civil Defence since 2010 are outlined in the following table. The insurance runs from 1 July to 30 June each year and covers Motor, Public Liability, Employers Liability, Marine Hull, Property Damage and Travel. Employment Practices Liability, Directors and Officers Liability and Computer were discontinued following the dissolution of the Civil Defence Board at the end of 2012.

  There are currently eight outstanding insurance claims in relation to Civil Defence with an estimated liability of €1.77 million.

Type of Insurance
Insurance Brokers
2010€
2011€
2012€
2013€
2014€
2015€
2016€
TOTAL
Willis Insurance
198,951
-
-
-
-
-
 
TOTAL
Marsh Ireland Ltd.
-
147,435
143,230
126,767
127,084
161,308
181,096

Naval Service Vessels

 646. 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 if Naval Service vessels are equipped to detect submerged submarines; and if they have the means to force submarines to surface when necessary. [15321/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the Defence Forces, including the Naval Service, have a modern and effective range of equipment which is line with best international standards, as required to fulfil all roles that are assigned to them by Government.   

  However, for operational and security reasons it is not possible to provide the information requested by the Deputy regarding the capability of Naval Service vessels.

Naval Service Vessels

 647. 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 when the LE Aisling was retired from service and the reason it took a year to put it up for sale.  [15322/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe LE Aisling was decommissioned in June 2016 following 36 years of outstanding service to the State.

  There are a number of recognised methods for disposing of a ship which has reached the end of its effective or economic service life within the Naval Service. Options available include the donation, or sale by way of public auction which can allow for the refurbishment and reuse of a vessel by a secondary party. Such uses can include operational restoration for further life as a ship, or for use as a museum.

  Following the decommissioning of LE Aisling, there was a request from Galway City Council for the vessel to be donated to the people of Galway to be used as a floating museum. In this regard I indicated that I wished to give the matter the fullest consideration and requested Galway City Council to provide a fully costed feasibility study for the use of the former LE Aisling by the Council. In the absence of the requested proposal I decided that the vessel would be put up for sale by way of public auction and I instructed officials from my Department to proceed with the arrangements for the sale.

  In this context the former LE Aisling was offered for sale by public auction in Cork on Thursday 23 March 2017. The vessel was sold for the sum of €110,000 to a Dutch shipbroker, and the necessary paperwork is being finalised to allow for the removal of the vessel from the Naval Base in Haulbowline.

Defence Forces Properties

 648. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the level of consultation he had with the Department of Education and Skills or the Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board, ETB, regarding the future use of the Dún Uí Neill Army barracks in County Cavan. [15258/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe As the Deputy is aware the sale of the former Barracks to County Cavan Vocational Education Committee was completed in February 2013. As such there is no ongoing discussion/consultation with either the Department of Education and Skills or Cavan Monaghan ETB regarding the future use of the Barracks.

Defence Forces Training

 649. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the details of the new employment support scheme with the direct involvement of the Defence Forces; if social protection recipients have a choice of whether to join the scheme or not; the role his Department has had in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8452/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Programme for a Partnership Government and the White Paper on Defence committed the Government to putting in place a new employment support scheme with the direct involvement of the Defence Forces.

The objective of this scheme is to help develop a path to economic independence for participants, aged between 18 and 24 years, who are at a serious disadvantage owing to their current socio-economic situation. The scheme is designed with the specific aim of equipping participants with life and other marketable and certifiable skills which will assist them both in their capacity to participate fully in society as well as their ability to enter the workforce and or to pursue further education for this purpose.

The scheme is a training programme of ten (10) weeks duration, consisting of five (5) weeks of training delivered by the Defence Forces interspersed with five (5) weeks of educational orientated training by the Education and Training Board.

The scheme and the programme content have been developed through detailed discussions involving the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces, the Department of Social Protection and the Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board. The Department of Social Protection identifies suitable participants. Participants retain any Department of Social Protection benefits that they are currently entitled to for the duration of the Scheme. Participation on the scheme is wholly voluntary for the relevant cohort of jobseekers and there is no penalty applied for non-participation or engagement in the programme. Participants do not receive any payment from the Department of Defence. A successful pilot programme was held in Gormanston Camp from Monday 20 June 2016 to 26 August 2016 with 25 participants. Following an evaluation of the pilot programme and Ministerial approval, the current plan is to run up to 2 iterations of the programme in 2017.

The first iteration of the programme will commence in Limerick on 22 May 2017. The Department of Social Protection invited 1,006 persons selected from the Live Register in counties Clare and Limerick aged between 18 and 24 years to attend information sessions about the scheme. 260 persons attended the information sessions held on 16 and 17 January 2017 which were conducted jointly by personnel from the Defence Forces and Department of Social Protection.  There are 30 places on the programme and the selection process is ongoing.


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