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 Header Item Written Answers Nos 1365-1388
 Header Item National Planning Framework
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Defence Forces Recruitment
 Header Item Defence Forces Medicinal Products
 Header Item Naval Service Vessels
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Meetings
 Header Item Departmental Websites
 Header Item Departmental Websites
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Departmental Staff Training
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Defence Forces
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel
 Header Item Defence Forces Recruitment
 Header Item Defence Forces Medicinal Products
 Header Item Defence Forces Expenditure

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 961 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 119 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos 1365-1388

National Planning Framework

 1365. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy his plans to publish the ESRI baseline model used for the regional population and jobs growth targets in the national planning framework, NPF, in advance of the publication of the final NPF. [47131/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department is in the process of finalising, for publication, a number of reports underpinning the publication of the Ireland 2040: Our Plan draft National Planning Framework. This will include an ESRI Demographic and Econometric modelling report setting out full details in relation to the population and demographic projections.

The purpose of both the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the corresponding Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES) is to set long-term national and regional development frameworks within which Government Departments and Agencies, the regional assemblies and local authorities, as well as wider private sector and community interests will work together to ensure proper planning and sustainable development and the optimal development of the country as a whole, in a national, regional and ultimately local context. 

In developing the NPF, it was considered important to establish a strong empirical evidence base to support policy formulation.  In this regard, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which is an independent research institute with established competence in the type of specialist economic and demographic modelling work required for preparation of the NPF, were commissioned by my Department to carry out relevant research and development.  Key features of its research approach are its strong empirical base, its social and economic policy focus and its coverage of many of the major areas of relevance to current policy issues in Ireland and the European Union. 

The ESRI conducted economic and demographic modelling and continues to prepare future projections in respect of Ireland’s population and economy in the years ahead to 2040. This included the establishment of a new national economic model to generate the type of economic and demographic data required to inform the NPF and assess the impacts of various policy options.  A key aspect of this work was the development of demographic forecasts, based on past trends, and the generation of a range of future spatial development scenarios.  These future scenarios were then tested against the assembled forecast data to inform the future national and regional development scenarios in the NPF, with the NPF indicating an additional 1 million population approximately, by 2040.

Planning Issues

 1366. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the date by which he will make a decision to publish the Mulcahy report on certain planning matters in respect of Donegal County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47137/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Senior Counsel has completed his review of certain planning matters in respect of Donegal County Council and a report was submitted to my Department on 12 June 2017.

  Legal advice has been sought on a number of points in this regard, including on the issue of publication. I currently await advice from the Attorney General in relation to this.

  Once all legal advices and a submission has been finalised by my Department, I will be in a position to consider the matter of publication further, and to make a statement, when appropriate.

Planning Issues

 1367. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the date on which he referred disclosures made by a person (details supplied) to Donegal County Council; the action to date taken by Donegal County Council in relation to the matters referred to it by his office regarding disclosures made by the person which he deemed to fall outside the remit of the Mulcahy review; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [47138/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy In an ongoing correspondence with my Department the named individual has submitted several alleged instances of planning irregularities to my predecessors. My Department has considered each of these in turn. The bulk of the named individual's allegations have been the subject of a review by Senior Counsel. My Department has received Counsel's report and I await legal advice from the Attorney General's Office in respect of its findings. Other allegations have been responded to by relevant officials within my Department.

My Department has previously advised the named individual that matters relating to Donegal County Council should be brought to the Council directly and he has brought a number of complaints to Donegal County Council that fall outside of Counsel’s review. It is my understanding that the Council has paused its investigation of these complaints pending the outcome of Counsel’s report.

Planning Issues

 1368. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the date on which he referred disclosures made by a person (details supplied) to An Bord Pleanála; the action to date taken by An Bord Pleanála on the matters referred to it by his office regarding disclosures made by the person which he deemed to fall outside the remit of the Mulcahy review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47139/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy In an ongoing correspondence with my Department the named individual has submitted several alleged instances of planning irregularities to my predecessors. The bulk of the named individual's allegations have been the subject of a review by Senior Counsel. My Department has received Counsel’s report and I await legal advice from the Attorney General in that respect. Other allegations have been responded to by relevant officials within my Department.

My Department has previously advised the individual referenced that matters relating to An Bord Pleanála should be brought to the Board directly, as it is an independent agency with its own complaints procedure. It is my Department's understanding that An Bord Pleanála has been in direct correspondence with the individual concerned regarding his complaints and An Bord Pleanála have confirmed to my Department that their most recent correspondence with that person was in April, 2016 and that it considers its correspondence with that person closed.

Defence Forces Recruitment

 1369. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when a person (details supplied) will be called to serve in the Defence Forces. [45661/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe In order to be enlisted as a General Service Recruit, applicants are required to pass all stages of the recruitment process. These include Physical Fitness Test, Psychometric Test, Interview, Medical Examination and Security Clearance.

In relation to this particular case, the Military Authorities have advised that the individual referred to did not satisfy the requirements for enlistment in the Permanent Defence Force. He was informed by e-mail on the 26 September 2017 that his application was unsuccessful.

I am unable to comment any further on this matter, as it is the policy of the Department of Defence to treat all applications for enlistment in the Defence Forces as strictly private and confidential.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

 1370. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 57 and 59 of 18 October 2017 and in view of the fact that 12 Defence Forces personnel have died by suicide subsequent to being prescribed Lariam his views on whether Defence Forces personnel travelling to sub Saharan Africa (details supplied) should have the right to a second medical opinion in regard to the most suitable anti-malarial drug to take while in sub Saharan Africa and have the right to follow that advice; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45760/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe As this matter pertains to litigation matters currently being heard in the High Court, it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this time.

Naval Service Vessels

 1371. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the age of each naval vessel; when they are due to be retired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45798/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Naval Service currently operates an eight ship flotilla. The following ships make up the fleet, from oldest to new:   

LÉ Eithne   –    Commissioned 1984   

LÉ Ciara  –   Built in 1984 (Commissioned in 1989)   

LÉ Orla   –    Built in 1985 (Commissioned in 1989)   

LÉ Roisin    –   Commissioned 1999   

LÉ Niamh    –   Commissioned 2001   

LÉ Samuel Beckett    – Commissioned 2014   

LÉ James Joyce   –   Commissioned 2015   

LÉ William Butler Yeats  – Commissioned 2016   

The most significant investment of recent years by the Defence Organisation has been on the procurement of the new Off-Shore Patrol Vessels for the Naval Service. The third ship in the programme, LÉ William Butler Yeats, was commissioned into service in October 2016. A contract for an additional sister ship was placed with Babcock International, a British company, in June 2016 bringing investment in the new ships programme to over €250 million since 2010. The fourth ship, to be named LÉ George Bernard Shaw is scheduled for delivery in mid-2018.   

  The acquisition of these modern new vessels, combined with an ongoing maintenance regime for all vessels within the fleet, and the continuous process of refurbishment, refit and repair, will ensure that the operational capabilities of the Naval Service, as the State’s principal seagoing agency, are maintained to the greatest extent.

  The normal life of a Naval Service ship is determined by the level of operational activity. It is normal practice in a ship’s life to carry out a mid-life refurbishment programme so as to extend the useful life of a ship to thirty or more years. In this regard, the Defence Organisation has commenced planning for a mid-life refurbishment programme for LÉ Roisin and LÉ Niamh. This structured mid-life refurbishment programme will future proof the vessels, allow for preventative maintenance and address obsolescence of equipment through capitalising on advancements in technology, thus ensuring reliability of the vessels for the next 15 years.

  Three ships in the current flotilla are over 30 years old (LÉ Eithne, LÉ Ciara and LÉ Orla). The White Paper provides for the replacement of the current Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi role vessel (MRV) which will be enabled for helicopter operations and will also have a freight carrying capacity. It is the intention to hold a public tender competition in due course to cover the supply of the MRV subject to the availability of funding within the overall Defence capital funding envelope. Future Naval Service capabilities are being planned as part of the White Paper project planning process which will determine the Defence Organisation’s maritime capability requirements. The matter of de-commissioning dates for the older ships is kept under review within the Defence organisation and decisions in that regard will be finalised in due course.    

Departmental Expenditure

 1372. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the external company undertaking an audit of his departmental website; the cost of the audit; the timeframe for its completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45857/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe  There is no audit being undertaken of the Department of Defence website at present. A project is currently ongoing to replace three of the department’s websites which includes the main website (www.defence.ie ), the website of the Office of Emergency Planning ( www.emergencyplanning.ie ) and the website for the Be Winter Ready campaign (www.winterready.ie ).

  It is anticipated that all three websites will be live by the end of 2017. As part of the development process they will all be tested to ensure that they comply with WCAG standard 2.0AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) which is an internationally recognised standard (ISO/IEC 40500:2012), and will be certified as such by the service provider.

Departmental Expenditure

 1373. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the estimated cost of the provision of a defibrillator in each public building owned by his Department and agency under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45982/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Department of Defence has 3 principal buildings, located at Newbridge, County Kildare; Renmore, Galway; and Roscrea, County Tipperary. It also has offices in 2 other buildings and defibrillators are provided in all 5 buildings. The estimated cost of each defibrillator is €990 ex VAT.

Departmental Meetings

 1374. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the meetings of the strategic communications unit he or his departmenal officials attended; the date and location of each such meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45989/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Office of Emergency Planning met with the Strategic Communications Unit on 12 October 2017 in the National Emergency Coordination Centre which is based in Agriculture House. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the upcoming "Be Winter Ready" campaign. In addition, a member of the Strategic Communications Unit attended a meeting of the Government Task Force Subgroup on Winter Ready on 26 October 2017 in the National Emergency Coordination Centre.    

Departmental Websites

 1375. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the last time his Department's website was revamped or remodelled; the cost of same; if he or his departmental officials have been consulted regarding creating one stand alone online Government portal website; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46006/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The current Department of Defence website ( www.defence.ie ) was developed in the early 2000’s and the content is updated on a regular basis. A project is currently ongoing to replace three of the Department’s websites which includes the main website (www.defence.ie ), the website of the Office of Emergency Planning (www.emergencyplanning.ie ) and the website for the Be Winter Ready campaign (www.winterready.ie ). It is anticipated that all three websites will be live by the end of 2017. The cost of this project to date is €34,507.66. A new Civil Defence (www.civildefence.ie   ) website was developed in December 2014 at a cost of €17,790.

  As part of the Government's eGovernment strategy 2017-2020 the Office of the Chief Information Officer has been working on the development of a Digital Service Gateway - a single digital point where citizens can easily access information about the Government services that are available to them.

  This work, which began at beginning of this year is ongoing and will involve the rationalisation of existing Government websites and online services over time. My Department has been advised that the intention is that this whole of Government project will be managed and developed by existing resources within the civil service.

Departmental Websites

 1376. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the investment in his Department’s website since 2011, including total associated costs incurred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46023/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The current Department of Defence website (defence.ie) was developed in the early 2000s and the content is updated in-house on a regular basis; there has been no investment in the Department's website since 2011. A project is currently ongoing to replace three of the Department’s websites which includes the main website (www.defence.ie ), the website of the Office of Emergency Planning ( www.emergencyplanning.ie ) and the website for the Be Winter Ready campaign (www.winterready.ie ). It is anticipated that all three websites will be live by the end of 2017. The cost of this project to date is €34,507.66. A new Civil Defence ( www.civildefence.ie   ) website was developed in December 2014 at a cost of €17,790.

Departmental Staff Data

 1377. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of departmental staff in his press office; the reporting relationship in operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46040/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe There are 2.25 whole time equivalents in the press office which includes a shared Clerical Officer, an Executive Officer and an Administrative Officer reporting to an Assistant Principal Officer.   

Departmental Staff Training

 1378. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the protocol for attendance by staff both civil servants and political non-civil servants at continuing professional development programmes and courses; the number of staff both civil servants and political non-civil servants in his Department that participated in such programmes on an annual basis in each of the years 2011 to 2016 and to date in 2017; the costs incurred by his Department for persons that participated in these courses; the providers of all such courses; the subject areas of all courses and programmes provided in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46057/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Three civil servants are professionals for whom accredited continuing professional development programmes (CPD) are being provided. Participation in accredited CPD for these three civil servants is identified through PDMS procedures as is all learning and development for all civil servants in the Department. The detail of the CPD undertaken is outlined in the tables. No political non-civil servants in the Department have undertaken any CPD in the timeframe specified.   

Number in attendance Cost: Programme Provider:
1 €588.60 Data Information & Law ERA
1 NIL Induction Training Department of Defence
1 NIL AGO Seminars CSSO
1 €280.00 Data Information & Law Griffith College
1 €40.00 Constitutional Law UCD
1 €155.00 Networking Event Chartered Accounting Ireland
1 €355.00 Negotiation Skills - Module 1 Legal Island
1 NIL Microsoft Briefing Department of Defence


2016
Number in attendance Cost: Programme Provider:
1 €550.00 Annual Review of Employment Law Legal Island
1 €424.23 FOI Advanced CMG
1 Nil Lunch & Learn Department of Defence
1 €175.00 Networking Event Chartereed Accounting Ireland
1 €710.00 Insightsoftware Training Western Society


2015
Number in attendance Cost: Programme Provider:
1 €240.00 MS Project 2007 Oiliuna
1 €375.00 Project Management IPA
1 €175.00 FOI Advanced Arcline
1 €62.50 Interviewee & Presentation Skills IPA


2014
Number in attendance Cost: Programme Provider:
nil  nil  nil nil 


2013
Number in attendance Cost: Programme Provider:
1 €110.00 Word Advanced Oiliuna
1 €110.00 Word Intermediate Oiliuna
1 €50.00 Excel Advanced OLAS
1 NIL Stress Management CSEAS
1 €185.00 Public Financial Management IPA


2012
Number in attendance Cost: Programme Provider:
1 €166.00 Data Protection Awareness IPA
1 €325.00 Health & Safety Frontline Managers Phoenix Safety


2011
nil  nil  nil nil 

Departmental Expenditure

 1379. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the public relations companies or agencies the services of which his Department used for information campaigns since 1 January 2017; and the costs incurred to date in 2017. [46074/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe My Department has not incurred any expenditure on external public relations since 1 January 2017.

Departmental Expenditure

 1380. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the steps he has taken to ensure that grant aided organisations are spending their moneys appropriately in view of the revelations regarding a charity (details supplied) in 2016; if his attention has been drawn to concerns in relation to organisations funded by his Department; if so, the action he has taken; if his Department has issued new procedures regarding the use of credit cards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46091/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe My Department provides grants to the Local Authorities in relation to running costs for Civil Defence and to the Irish Red Cross. Grants are paid in line with public financial procedures. Funding for Civil Defence operations is shared on a 70/30 basis between my Department and local authorities by way of an annual grant to each authority. The grant covers all allowable administration and running costs for Civil Defence in each local authority.

Civil Defence operations at local level are carried out under the control of the relevant local authority. The annual grant to each local authority is issued following a detailed examination of certified financial returns on the previous year’s expenditure. This includes confirmation by the local authority that a control environment is in place to ensure accountability for all income, expenditure, donations or gifts in relation to the operation of Civil Defence. Separately, the external auditor for Local Government includes the Civil Defence grants as part of its annual audit agenda.

My Department makes an annual Grant-in-Aid payment of €869,000 to the Irish Red Cross Irish Red Cross, which includes Ireland’s contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The annual grant is paid in quarterly instalments and each year my Department receives a report from the Society providing full details of how the previous year’s grant was utilised and details of it is to be used in the current year. The annual consolidated financial statements of the Society, which are published on its website, are subject to audit by an independent external firm of auditors whose report is also published. There is a requirement for the Irish Red Cross to identify the Department of Defence as a grant making agency in their financial statements. The payment of the Department’s annual grant to the Society is kept under review on an ongoing basis.

With regard to procedures on the use of credit cards, it is a matter for the individual grant-aided organisations to ensure that appropriate controls and procedures are in place.

Brexit Issues

 1381. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the details of all planning and research work underway for the impact of the result of Brexit negotiations in his Department or related State agencies; if this analysis is intended for publication; the expected completion and publication date, respectively, of this research in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46117/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for Brexit, Deputy Simon Coveney, has responsibility for coordinating the whole-of-Government response to Brexit. In this capacity, he is working closely with his colleagues across Government to address the many challenges resulting from Brexit. This co-operation also involves the relevant State Agencies. Work at Cabinet level is being prepared through cross-Departmental co-ordination structures. These represent a frequent and active channel through which all relevant Departments are providing their research, analysis and overall policy input to the Government’s wider response to Brexit, including its priorities for the ongoing Article 50 negotiations between the EU and the UK.

  As the outcome of the negotiations is not yet known, an important focus of the planning and preparation being undertaken through these structures is on deepening the Government’s analysis and understanding of the exact consequences of a range of different possible scenarios. This represents an intensification of efforts to build on the Government‘s contingency planning.

  While the vote does not give rise to fundamental strategic issues for Defence Forces operations or for Ireland’s continuing engagement within the EU in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), it is expected that Brexit will have an impact on future developments in the Defence sphere.

As the Deputy has previously been advised, on 19 January, 2015 Ireland signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Department of Defence, Ireland and the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence on enhancement on certain aspects of Security and Defence Cooperation. This provides a framework for developing and furthering bilateral co-operation and relations between the Department of Defence and the UK Ministry of Defence.  The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding placed already existing cooperation arrangements in the Defence area between Ireland and the UK on a more formal and transparent footing, while fully respecting the differing policy positions and security arrangements of both States.   

   The MoU takes into account matters such as military forces training; exercises and military education; exchange of views on EU Common Security and Defence Policy; potential for joint contributions to UN Crisis Management Operations; joint procurement initiatives; pooling and sharing resources; general sharing on reform in defence services; potential for staff exchanges; joint contribution to Security Sector Reform and capacity building in crisis locations and the sharing of information. Given the bi-lateral arrangements already in place, and the fact Brexit does not give rise to fundamental strategic issues for Defence Forces operations or for Ireland’s continuing engagement in the EUs Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), it is the case, given the unique nature of Defence that other than normal internal policy considerations, there is no specific Brexit related research currently being undertaken by, or on behalf of, my department. Any potential future such requirement will be kept under constant review as the negotiation process unfolds.

The Government remains under no illusions about the complexity of these negotiations or the potential impacts that may arise on their conclusion. In that regard, I wish to reassure the Deputy that my Department is monitoring the ongoing situation and is engaged along with the Defence Forces in prudent planning to ensure that the Department and the Defence Forces are well prepared to address any potential issues or potential future threats arising in the defence area on foot of Brexit.   

Departmental Contracts

 1382. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the contracts his Department or bodies under the aegis of his Department have with a company (details supplied) or its subsidiaries; the value of the contracts; the year in which the contracts were concluded; when the contracts will be up for renewal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46370/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I can confirm that neither the Department of Defence nor the Defence Forces have contracts with the company referred by the Deputy.   

Defence Forces

 1383. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the recent discovery at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel that gloves provided to personnel to protect them from toxic chemical exposure had been found to offer inadequate protection; if harm has been caused to personnel as a result of this inadequate protection; and if there was independent oversight into the process of choosing and purchasing health and safety personal protective equipment. [46383/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Deputy will be aware that the State Claims Agency is currently managing six claims taken between 2013 and 2016 by former and current members of the Air Corps against the Minister for Defence for personal injuries alleging exposure to chemical and toxic substances whilst working in the Air Corps in Baldonnel in the period 1991 to 2006. Given my responsibilities and the fact that the Minister for Defence is the Defendant in these claims, you will appreciate it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment in relation to these cases whilst such litigation is ongoing.

Departmental Staff Data

 1384. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the names of the special advisers employed in his Department; the names of special advisers to Ministers of State in his Department; the annual salary of each adviser; if these persons were special advisers immediately prior to taking up their current role or immediately prior to the June 2017 Cabinet reshuffle; if so, the Minister to whom they were appointed; the date each special adviser was appointed with effect as stated in the Government order; the date of the Government order; if they received a salary for the period before the appointment order was signed in the case of special advisers whose appointment order date has an effect date earlier than the order date; if so, by whom they were paid; if a special adviser during a period later backdated by appointment order had access to confidential material and or Cabinet papers; if he or she was subject to the Official Secrets Act 1963 during this period; if any persons currently employed as special advisers have not yet been appointed by order since the Cabinet reshuffle of 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46465/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The following are details of the advisers employed in my office in the Department of Defence:

  Name Date of Appointment Salary
Special Adviser John Coughlan 6th May 2016 €79,401 - €91,624
Press Adviser Clare Mungovan 18th May 2016 €79,401 - €91,624


These are the only political advisers employed by my Department in the period since 6 May 2016.

  Following my re-appointment as Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence on 14 June 2017 both of the advisers listed above continued in the role they had performed prior to that date and were paid by my Department. Their re-appointment as advisers to me was formally confirmed by Government Decision dated 26 July 2017. In the period since they were first appointed both advisers have had access to all material and papers necessary to fulfil their roles. Both have been subject to the Official Secrets Act since they were first appointed in May 2016.   

Defence Forces Personnel

 1385. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to retain Defence Forces personnel in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46496/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Given the unique and demanding nature of military life, there is, understandably, a significant turnover of personnel in the Defence Forces on an annual basis. A certain level of turnover is desirable as a human resource and organisational objective, in order to maintain an appropriate age profile across the Defence Forces and to retain an approach to regular revitalisation. However, it is also important to ensure that turnover is ultimately beneficial to the organisation. In recent years the levels of departures have exceded intakes and this has presented difficulties in meeting the establishment strength of 9,500 personnel. In order to fill vacancies there is significant ongoing recruitment at both enlisted and officer level and it is anticipated that approximately 800 new personnel will have been inducted into the Permanent Defence Force during 2017. This includes general service recruits, apprentices, cadets and direct entry officers.

A range of recruitment methods are being employed including direct entry competitions for specialist positions and the scope to further expand direct entry is being considered. I have also directed civil and military management to develop proposals for expanding direct entry recruitment of specialists and a scheme to facilitate former PDF personnel with appropriate skill-sets to re-enter the Defence Forces.

From the most recent figures available, the strength of the Permanent Defence Force is currently at approximately 9,200 personnel. As I have previously outlined there are particular challenges with vacancies in certain specialist posts such as Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers and certain Technicians. These specialists can prove difficult to retain where, as in the current economic circumstances, there are ongoing private sector and commercial semi-state sector job opportunities. I understand that he retention of such specialists has proved challenging for many military forces internationally.

As the Deputy will be aware, there is also an ongoing programme of HR development within the Defence Organisation. The Defence Forces Climate Survey identified a range of issues that were identified as impacting on satisfaction levels within the PDF. Whilst pay for the lowest paid members of the Defence Forces was highlighted as an issue, there were a broad range of HR matters raised. I am satisfied that these are being addressed and I have recently announced a number of initiatives ranging from a review of the C&A Scheme, a review of the crtieria governing Contracts for enlisted personnel and a comprehensive skills gap analysis across the Defence Forces. These directly address issues raised in the Climate Study. In addition the Chief of Staff is actively addressing matters relating to military management of work practices in the Defence Forces.

Following sign up by the Defence Forces Representative Associations to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, members of the Permanent Defence Force have benefitted from pay increases. These post-dated the Climate Survey. I was particularly pleased with recent adjustments to salary scales for general service recruits and privates who joined the Defence Forces since 2013 (increases of between 8% and 24% depending on scale point). The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 -2020 also provides for further pay increases ranging from 5.75% to 7.25% depending on the individual’s current wage threshold and this is under consideration by RACO and PDFORRA.

The fact that further consideration by the Public Service Pay Commission of recruitment and retention issues is provided for under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, is also a welcome development

I remain committed to maximising recruitment to the Defence Forces and ensuring that, where possible, the terms and conditions of service are appropriate to the needs of the organisation and as favourable as they can be within the current budgetary parameters.

With the support of the Chief of Staff and within the resources available, the Government is committed to retaining the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government, both at home and abroad.

Defence Forces Recruitment

 1386. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if 70% of persons that have applied recently to the Defence Forces through its targeted recruitment campaigns did not subsequently present themselves for the initial physical fitness test; the number of persons that submitted the initial recruitment application form but failed to attend the initial physical test; and the number of persons that attended the initial physical fitness test but failed to reach the basic level of physical competency and were rejected to date in 2017, by month, in tabular form. [46752/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled by the military authorities. I will revert to him as soon as it is available.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

 1387. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar further to Parliamentary Question No. 59 of 13 December 2016, when the report of the working group on Lariam will be published in view of the recent publication of the Air Corps toxic chemicals report notwithstanding the fact that litigation has been launched by a number of persons. [46878/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe  As I indicated to the Deputy in my reply to your Parliamentary Question on 15 February 2017, the Malaria Chemoprophylaxis Working Group was first established in January 2011 and reported in April 2013. The Group was re-convened in August 2015. The purpose of the Working Group is to review, inter alia, issues arising in relation to the use of Lariam, particularly in the context of the current and potential litigation. Therefore, as with the Group’s original report, its second report is legally privileged and will not be published. This is the position with regard to all litigation related reports compiled in the context of claims made by serving or former members of the Permanent Defence Force.

Defence Forces Expenditure

 1388. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if the necessary funding will be provided to replace the roofing of the equitation stables at McKee barracks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46957/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Equitation School complex located at McKee Barracks consists of three large and two small blocks, which are used for the stabling of horses. As part of the ongoing Defence Forces Built Infrastructure capital programme the need for remedial works to these buildings was identified. The works include the replacement of the roof coverings, gutters and ceilings, repairs to timber, and repairs to brickwork in the external walls.

A contract was entered into in December 2016 to undertake this remedial work on a phased basis to minimise interference with the operation of the Equitation School.

In June 2017, phase 1 was completed, comprising one of the larger blocks, the two smaller ones, and repairs to the roof of the indoor riding arena. Work on the remaining two stable blocks commenced in August 2017 with a scheduled completion date of February 2018.


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