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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 373-386
 Header Item Defence Forces Recruitment
 Header Item Defence Forces Drug Tests
 Header Item Air Corps Operations
 Header Item Air Corps Strength
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Defence Forces Medicinal Products
 Header Item Defence Forces Medicinal Products
 Header Item Defence Forces Recruitment
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Recruitment
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 947 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 97 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 373-386

Defence Forces Recruitment

 373. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the efforts under way to hire the ten additional employees to the communication and information services to achieve the recommended number of employees and to prevent another military information technology glitch; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18468/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Defence Forces operates a large number of sophisticated ICT systems in order to support the Command and Control and administration of the Defence Forces at home and overseas and in the Land, Sea and Air Domains. The delivery of these sophisticated ICT services is underpinned by highly trained technical Defence Forces personnel.

There are currently no plans to run a Direct Entry competition for IT specialists. However, to ensure that there are a sufficient number of appropriately trained technicians to support the delivery of these ICT services, the Defence Forces operates a tailored four year degree level programme in conjunction with academic institutions.

Currently there are 54 Defence Force personnel undergoing this trainee technician scheme who, on graduation, will support ICT service delivery for the Naval Service, Army and Air Corps.

Defence Forces Drug Tests

 374. 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 number of Defence Forces personnel, Army, Air Corps, Naval Service and Reserve, that have been randomly tested for drugs or alcohol while on duty for each of the past five years; the nature of the test; and the consequences for those who have tested positive. [18470/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The following table shows the number of Defence Forces personnel Army, Air Corps and Naval Service and Reserve who were tested under the Defence Forces Compulsory Random Drug Testing (CRDT) in the past five years:

Year Total Tested
2012 2,058
2013 1,054
2014 1,092
2015 1,184
2016 1,2 04
Total 6, 592


  Compulsory Random Drug Testing was introduced to the Permanent Defence Force in 2002 pursuant to Defence Force Regulation A7 and Administrative Instruction Defence Forces Part 7, Chapter 3, Compulsory Random Drug Testing. All personnel, irrespective of rank, with the exception of the Army Nursing Service and the Chaplaincy Service, are liable to be tested.   

  The test requires each individual to provide a urine sample under controlled conditions. The sample is immediately screened on site. If the specimen is not found to be clear, it is then divided into two (‘A’ and ‘B’ samples) containers. At this stage, an unclear test in not necessarily an indication of a positive result, rather it merely indicates that the urine sample requires further laboratory analysis. Both ‘A’ and ‘B’ samples will be sent to an independent accredited civilian laboratory, the ‘A’ sample will be tested and the ‘B’ sample will be retained in the laboratory under controlled storage conditions. The ‘B’ sample is available for a second independent test by a different accredited laboratory if requested by the donor. No blood, saliva or hair samples are required.

  A total of 63 members of Defence Forces were deemed to have failed the Defence Forces Compulsory Random Drug Testing in the past five years (59 tested positive and 4 missed the test). The following actions were undertaken in each instance:   
Action Taken No of Personnel
Discharge By Purchase 23
Discharged 6
Being Processed 7
Retained after TDT 4
Retained in Service 2
Retired 1
Service No Longer Required 14
Targeted Drug Testing (TDT) * 5
TDT/Retired 1
Grand Total 63


*   The objective of Targeted Drug Testing (TDT) is to ensure that an individual, who has tested positive for the presence of a controlled drug in a Compulsory Random Drug Test but who conditionally remains in service as a result of a decision of their Formation Commander, is devoid of the presence and/or influence of any controlled drug or substance. TDT involves the individual agreeing to submit to targeted drugs testing, in addition to the random selection process, for a period of up to 18 months.

Air Corps Operations

 375. 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 minimum number of CASA pilots that are required in order for the Air Corps to be in a position to provide 24 hour top cover. [18471/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The primary duties of the Air Corps’ CASA aircraft are maritime surveillance and fishery protection patrols. The White Paper on Defence sets out the Defence policy framework for the next decade. Chapter 4 of the White Paper sets out the policy context for the provision of a broad range of “non-security” supports. It states that Defence capabilities are primarily developed for security purposes rather than for other ends, and that this will remain the key focus.

The Irish Coast Guard search and rescue services can request 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 and 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 the CASA fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft. Coast Guard helicopters also provide their own “top-cover” during Search & Rescue missions.

Availability is dependent upon a number of criteria including the availability of suitable aircraft, the availability of flying crews, the availability of Air Traffic Control services and the suitability of weather conditions. As I have outlined in replies to previous parliamentary questions, there are currently restrictions on Air Traffic Control services in Casement Aerodrome and shortages of experienced pilots. The Air Corps is not providing fixed wing aircraft for routine operations, on an ongoing basis, outside normal hours.

There are no plans to change the terms of the Service Level Agreement with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. As such the Air Corps CASA aircraft will continue to respond to requests from the Coast Guard for “top-cover” on an as available basis. While there are a range of actions underway which are intended to improve the general availability of Air Corps Aircraft for all roles assigned, there are no plans to dedicate CASA aircraft to the provision of “top-cover” on a 24 hour basis.

Air Corps Strength

 376. 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 number of qualified CASA pilots currently serving with the Air Corps. [18472/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I am informed by the military authorities that there are currently 17 qualified CASA pilots in the Irish Air Corps. Five of these pilots are dedicated to CASA operations, which equates to 2.5 dedicated CASA flight crews.  The other 12 CASA pilots hold full-time positions within the wider Air Corps; some are in senior management and supervisory positions such as Unit and Squadron Commanders; some are in administrative and staff positions. Others are flying in other operational and training units such as the Garda Air Support Unit or the Flying Training School in order to maintain the Air Corps training and operational output.

Garda Operations

 377. 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 his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Garda surveillance helicopter can operate without the need for air traffic controllers; and the number of times in 2016 it took off and landed without such ATC in situ.  [18473/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I am aware of that fact and that the Garda Air Support Unit (GASU) helicopters can undertake operations on a 24 hour basis. For operational and security reasons, it would not be appropriate to disclose precise details of GASU missions. As outlined in previous replies to parliamentary questions there are ongoing restrictions in the provision of Air Traffic Control services in Casement Aerodrome and a shortage of experienced pilots. The Air Corps is not providing fixed wing aircraft for routine operations, on an ongoing basis, outside normal hours.

Departmental Expenditure

 378. 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 cost to his Department of the Air Corps officers mess for inflight catering; if this figure has ever been audited by an external agency; and if not, the reason. [18555/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The military authorities have advised that in 2016 a total of €3,472 was reimbursed to the Air Corps Officers Mess with regard to the provision of light refreshments for Ministerial Air Transport (MATS) flights.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) audits the Appropriation Accounts for the Defence and Army Pensions Votes under Section 3 of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act, 1993. It is a matter for the C&AG to determine the scope and focus of their audits. The most recent audit was in respect of the 2015 Appropriation Accounts and the Defence Votes received an unqualified audit report.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

 379. 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 details of missions or deployment of soldiers abroad in 2015 that used the anti-malaria drugs malarone and doxycycline; the number of Defence Forces personnel involved; the rank of those on such missions; and the duration they were deployed for these missions. [18562/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I have been advised by the military authorities that the information sought cannot be provide within the required timeframe. I will revert to the Deputy when the information is available.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

 380. 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 his views on whether doxycycline 100mg is a broad spectrum antibiotic (details supplied). [18563/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Deputy has referred to the use of Doxycycline as a broad spectrum antibiotic and to the information provided in previous Parliamentary Questions. I am advised that Doxycycline is an antibiotic which has a wide range of applications, including as a prophylactic agent in the prevention of malaria. It has very limited application in the actual treatment of malaria.

  I am further advised that there is a contradiction between Section 4.5 of the SmPC (Summary of Product Characteristics) and Section 4.2 of the SmPc. One points out that the absorption of Doxycycline is impaired by concurrently administered antacids containing inter alia calcium and the other advises that if there is gastric irritation, it is recommended that Doxycycline be given with food or milk. The SmPC is contradictory as milk and dairy products such as cheese contain large amounts of calcium. This contradiction was already apparent to the Director of the Defence Forces Medical Branch and the Defence Forces Medical Officers.   

  Presently, I am informed that the advice in relation thereto would indicate that dairy products should not be consumed within a certain number of hours before Doxycycline and should not be consumed thereafter for a certain number of hours.

  Investigations in relation to this which includes a dynamic review of up to date publications indicates that for maximal absorption of Doxycycline it should never be taken contemporaneously with dairy products.  However, a pragmatic approach is applied if required, on the basis that partial absorption of the active ingredient is preferable to no absorption at all, resulting in a level of protection, albeit reduced.

  There is, I have to state, no contradiction of the position in the context of earlier replies to Parliamentary Questions, but rather the contradiction exists within the Summary of Product Characteristics.

Defence Forces Recruitment

 381. 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 direct entry or recruitment for specialist positions in the Defence Forces in the past 20 years; the reason for such policy rather than internal promotion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18564/17]

 382. 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 he or officials from his Department had discussions with the military authorities regarding vacancies in specialist positions in the Army and Air Corps, in particular those impacting on the effective running of services; and if direct entry recruitment for those positions has been considered. [18565/17]

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. 381 and 382 together.

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. The purpose of Direct Entry Competitions is to recruit people with specialist qualifications or skills in order to fill vacant appointments in the Defence Forces.

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. This campaign does not preclude existing Defence Forces personnel from applying for such competitions. Nor is there a prohibition on existing personnel being assigned to specialist functions where their qualifications permit such internal redeployment. 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.

In relation to specialised functions within the Air Corps, I am advised that Department officials have recently met with the military authorities to explore options available in relation to the filling of same, these discussions are ongoing. The Deputy may wish to note that any such proposals will fall to be discussed under the Defence Conciliation & Arbitration scheme.

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 Personnel Data

 383. 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 number of former members of the Defence Forces that have joined foreign military services on completion of service here either after resigning their commission or before completing their contract; the military services involved; if there are restrictions on former members of the Defence Forces joining other military services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18566/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I am informed by the military authorities that they do not collate information on ex-Defence Forces personnel. However, there are no restrictions on former members of the Defence Forces joining other military services.

It should be noted that terms of enlistment for enlisted personnel, post 1994, are for five years in the Permanent Defence Force and 7 years in the Reserve Defence Force. Section 241 of the Defence Act prohibits members of the Reserve Defence Force from joining the armed forces of another state. However, should a member of the Permanent Defence Force discharge by purchase prior to the completion of their contract, they would no longer have a commitment to Reserve service and therefore would no longer be considered a member of the Defence Forces.

Defence Forces Recruitment

 384. 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 number of applications from former members of foreign military services to join the Defence Forces; and the number that were allowed to join the Defence Forces in the past ten years. [18567/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I am informed by the military authorities that the Defence Forces do not collate data on former members of foreign military services who have applied to join the Defence Forces.

  While information concerning previous military experience of applicants is collected at the recruitment stage, such data is not retained once the recruitment process has been completed for reasons of data protection.

Ministerial Meetings

 385. 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 he has met with a group (details supplied) as he indicated he would. [18576/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I had previously outlined to the Deputy in my response to PQ 33875/2016 on 9 November 2016 that I was open to meeting with the Group. I confirm that I met with the Group on 14 December 2016.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

 386. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the percentage of Defence Forces personnel that are currently medically trained. [18633/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I am advised by the military authorities that the number of Defence Forces personnel that have received medical-related training is as follows:

Qualification Number Remarks
Doctor 21  
Dentist 4  
Nurse 6 Army Nursing Service
Dental Hygienist 2  
Dental Nurse 6  
Clinical Psychologist 1  
Biomedical Lab Tech 1  
Pharmacist 3  
Advanced Paramedic 8  
Paramedic 52  
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) 108  
Military First Responder 1,543 This course includes Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) modules such as: First Aid Response, Cardiac First Responder and Emergency First Response. A military medical module is also conducted.
Total 1,755  


  As the whole time equivalent strength of the Defence Forces is currently 9,072, 19.34% of the Defence Forces are currently medically trained in one of the above categories.   

  In addition, as part of recruit and cadet training, all new entrants to the Defence Forces complete a First Aid Response module.


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