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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 58-82
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Data
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Recruitment
 Header Item Defence Forces Pensions
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Defence Forces Operations
 Header Item Defence Forces Training
 Header Item Defence Forces Recruitment
 Header Item Defence Forces Strength
 Header Item Overseas Missions Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Equipment
 Header Item Search and Rescue Service Provision

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 58-82

Departmental Staff Data

 58. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of conferences staff of his Department have attended in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the number of staff that attended each conference; and the cost of same in each year. [9176/19]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Details of the conferences attended by staff of my Department in the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, as recorded by my Department's Training Unit, are set out in the table.

  The associated cost was €6,791 in 2017, €10,341 in 2018 and €1,193 to date in 2019.

  2017
Details Staff numbers attended
Institute of International and European Affairs Conference - Brexit: A Status Report 1
National Cyber Security Conference 2
Annual HR Conference 1
Irish Times - Corporate Tax Summit 1
Cross Border Conference 1
Institute of Chartered Accountants Conference – Code of Practice for Government State Bodies 1
Emergency Response Management Conference 1
Legal Island HR Conference on Discipline and Performance 1
Eventbrite - A Playful City International Conference 1
Irish Council Social Housing - Biennial National Social Housing Conference 1
GDPR Conference 1
Chartered Accountants Ireland Conference - Key Tax Issues 1
Privacy & Data Protection Conference 2
Annual Public Relations Institute of Ireland Affairs Conference 1
Public Affairs Ireland's Conference on Protected Disclosures 1
Institute of Internal Auditors Annual Conference 1
Digital Government 2017 1
The Road to Better Governance Forum 2
Peter McVerry Trust - Empty Homes Conference 1
Annual Economic Policy Conference 3
Brexit Economic Conference 1
Institute of Public Administration - Key Governance Forum 2
CMG Conference on GDPR for State bodies 1
CMG Data Protection Conference 1
Public Affairs Ireland Annual HR Conference 1
Total 31


  2018
Details Staff numbers attended
Killarney Economic Conference 1
Legal Island HR Conference on Discipline and Performance 1
Public Affairs Ireland Annual HR Conference: 1
Public Service 2020 Conference 3
   
National GDPR Conference 2
Legal Island - HR Symposium 1
National Cyber Security Conference 2
Centre for Cross Boarder Studies Annual Conference 3
Institute of Internal Auditor Training Conference 1
Conference on Brexit: Implications for Northern Ireland 1
Irish Centre for European Law Conference on Brexit and Rights in Northern Ireland 1
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Ireland Annual Conference 1
Justice Conference 2018 1
Dublin Economics Workshop 4
Digital Government Conference 4
Public Affairs Ireland CPD Compliance Conference 1
Public Affairs Ireland's Conference on Reimagining Performance Conference 2
Service Design Global Conference 3
Social Policy Conference 1
Aarhus Convention - 20 Years on 1
Northern Ireland Economic Conference 1
Total 36


  To date 2019
Details Staff numbers attended
Social Media Dublin Conference 2
Public Affairs Ireland Annual Conference 2
Total 4

Departmental Expenditure

 59. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the amount spent in advertising and-or sponsorship in respect of conferences external and internal, respectively in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, by conference; the aggregate amount for each year; and the amount available in the remainder of 2019 to fund same. [9193/19]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar No expenditure was incurred by my Department on advertising or sponsorship in respect of conferences in the years in question. While the Department did not directly fund advertising services for the Data Summit held in 2017, the company that provided conference organisation services for the Summit did incur costs relating to marketing and advertising. The overall costs of the Data Summit 2017 were met though sponsorship, registration fees and a contribution from my Department.

Departmental Data

 60. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of staff in his Department that attended a summit (details supplied) in Dublin in 2017 and 2018, respectively; the cost to his Department or agency under the remit of his Department; if his Department or an agency under the remit of his Department undertook advertising or sponsorship in respect of the summit; and the cost in this regard. [9210/19]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar No staff from my Department attended the specific summit in Dublin in 2017 and 2018 referenced by the Deputy. No expenditure was incurred in relation to advertising or sponsorship by the Department in respect of this summit.

EU Funding

 61. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the breakdown of funds received by his Department or channelled through his Department from EU funds in 2017; and the programmes these funds supported. [9557/19]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department did not administer any EU funding programmes in 2017.

Departmental Staff Data

 62. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of conferences staff of his Department have attended in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the number of staff that attended each conference; the cost of same in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9166/19]

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 not immediately available, but is being compiled and will be sent to the Deputy at the earliest opportunity.

A deferred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Departmental Expenditure

 63. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the amount spent in advertising or sponsorship in respect of conferences external and internal, respectively in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, by conference; the aggregate amount for each year; the amount available in the remainder of 2019 to fund same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [9183/19]

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 costs for advertising and/or sponsorship in respect of conferences for the period in question.

Departmental Data

 64. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of staff in his Department that attended a summit (details supplied) in Dublin in 2017 and 2018, respectively; the cost to his Department or agency under the remit of his Department; if his Department or an agency under the remit of his Department undertook advertising or sponsorship in respect of the summit; the cost in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9200/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Secretary General of my Department was invited to attend a dinner in January 2017, which was associated with the event referred to by the Deputy. No costs were incurred by my Department for this attendance. There was no attendance from any agency under my remit, nor was there advertising or sponsorship undertaken by my Department or any agency under my remit, in the timeframe indicated.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

 65. 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 further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 58 of 12 July 2018 and 115 of 12 February 2019, the reason different figures were provided for days of sick leave taken by members of the Defence Forces. [9226/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe All absences due to ill health are recorded on the Defence Forces Personnel Management System (PMS). This is a live system which is updated on a continuous basis. While the introduction of this system has improved the maintenance and tracking of sick leave absences for members of the Permanent Defence Force, there can be discrepancies in the figures produced from reports run on different dates.

The military authorities advise me that this can arise for reasons such as the clearing process required when certificates from civilian rather than military medical personnel are relied upon or where a medical board revokes sick leave. With the passage of time, the variation for a particular year reduces.

Defence Forces Recruitment

 66. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to make changes in the recruitment criteria for apprenticeships within the Defence Forces to allow persons that have colour vision deficiency to wear corrective ophthalmic appliances during psychometric testing similar to those used in other European countries. [9268/19]

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 current eyesight colour vision requirement to enter the Defence Forces is grade one on the Ishihara Test.

The conditions for entry to and service in the Permanent Defence Force, including the methodologies used for assessments, are subject to continuous review and modification having regard to the needs of the organisation and the development of best practices.

I am advised by the military authorities that a Defence Forces Colour Vision Working Group has been established to review the colour vision requirements for joining the Defence Forces. This review is currently in the final stages of deliberation and I look forward to considering the recommendations of the Working Group.

Defence Forces Pensions

 67. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if a pension issue for a former member of the Defence Forces (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9349/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I am advised that the relevant information in this case was sent to the Local Authority in question by my Department in August 2018.   

  I am also advised that on foot of recent contact from the Local Authority my Department has sent the information again.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

 68. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of Permanent Defence Force recruits under the minimum height requirement of 157.48cm that were admitted to the Defence Forces in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and the number of these still enlisted in the Defence Forces. [9453/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The policy on height requirements for general service within the Permanent Defence Force is intended to ensure that personnel can conduct safely the various military tasks assigned to them, and they are of general application to all recruits. The minimum height requirement for general service recruitment is set out in Defence Forces Regulation. This prescribes a minimum height requirement for enlistment for general service in the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) of 157.48cm. This requirement was introduced following recommendations by a Defence Forces Working Group, which reported in January 2006, and the previous height requirement for both males and females was reduced.

Entry criteria as set out in Defence Forces Regulations must be observed. In order to provide the information sought by the Deputy, the Military Authorities inform me that it would be necessary for them to inspect the individual file of each general service recruit inducted between the 1st January 2011 and the present date. Given that there is a regulatory requirement that specific height requirements are met, such a significant investigation could not be justified. In the case of this question, I am informed that several thousand files would need to be inspected.

The military authorities have informed me also that a study group has been convened by the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) in order to review the standards of height for entry into the Defence Forces. The terms of reference for the group provide for the group to assess and recommend changes to the current height standards.

The group contains representatives from all three services of the Defence Forces and includes medical personnel, personnel from training establishments and military HR. The group convened in late September 2018 and I am informed that the group is in the final stages of deliberations and should report in the coming weeks.

EU Funding

 69. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the breakdown of funds received by his Department or channelled through his Department from EU funds in 2017; and the programmes these funds supported. [9568/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Horizon 2020 is an EU Research and Innovation programme covering the period 2014 to 2020. My Department received the sum of €13,500 in EU funding in 2017 under this programme.

Defence Forces Operations

 70. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if Ireland’s agreement to the EU SOFA would expand the breadth of the peacekeeping missions of the Defence Forces to include crisis management and battlegroups. [9687/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Prior to Ireland's agreement to become party to the EU SOFA Irish Defence Forces' missions and operations included crisis management operations, such as Operation Sophia, and included participation in a number of EU Battlegroups including the Nordic Battlegroups in 2008, 2011 and 2015. The agreement of the EU SOFA does not change this position.

Participation on crisis management operations strengthens Ireland's ability to make an effective contribution to the promotion of global peace, security and development, whether through the UN, the EU or our own bilateral actions. Participation in EU Battlegroups supports the development of rapid deployment skills and capabilities within the Defence Forces, together with improved interoperability with like-minded States. Ireland's participation in EU Battlegroups also reflects Irelands support for the UN, where successive Secretaries General of the UN have endorsed the development of the EU Battlegroup concept and Ireland's participation therein.

Defence Forces Training

 71. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which Army, Naval Service and Air Corps personnel have access to up-to-date modern training facilities and standards with a view to ensuring a ready ability to interact with other EU and UN forces in the event of a major security or rescue requirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9719/19]

 73. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which upskilling and advanced training continues throughout each branch of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9721/19]

 77. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which all members of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps can have access to retraining and upskilling on an annual basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9725/19]

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. 71, 73 and 77 together.

  The primary function of training and education in the Defence Forces is to develop and maintain the capabilities necessary to enable them to fulfil the roles laid down by Government. The Defence Forces conduct training and education under four broad categories namely; Leadership, Skills, Career, and Collective. Leadership Training is the medium through which the Defence Forces ensure that personnel are prepared for exercising command authority across the full range of military functions both at home and overseas in international operations. Skills Training ensures that Defence Forces personnel have the requisite individual, specialist, and crew skills. Career Training, and education, provides the organisation with the necessary pool of leaders and commanders at all levels. Collective Training allows military personnel to use their individual, crew, specialist and career training together, to develop integrated and coherent combat forces.

  The scheduling of training in the Defence Forces, including the Reserve, is underpinned by an analysis of training required to meet operational output and capability development requirements. A long term strategy is adopted with current planning horizons set out to 2021.

  The Defence Forces seek to constantly benchmark training across all three arms of the organisation against best military and academic practice. Military best practice is ensured by implementing a policy of standardisation that is in line with EU and NATO/Partnership for Peace partners. Academic best practice is ensured by benchmarking courses through accreditation under the National Framework of Qualifications which is validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.

The Defence Forces deliver military programmes and modules meeting national and international standards and engage with external educational institutions in order to facilitate organisational learning. This engagement with national and international educational institutions, military and civilian, aims to ensure that the Defence Forces retain currency with regards to best international practice and employ all relevant modern training methods.

  I remain committed to ensuring that the personnel of the Defence Forces continue to be trained to appropriate standards.

Defence Forces Recruitment

 72. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which recruitment to the Defence Forces remains ongoing; the number recruited to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9720/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Government remains committed to on-going recruitment to increase the strength of the Permanent Defence Force to the establishment level of 9,500 personnel.

  In 2018, this resulted in 611 new entrants being inducted in addition to 15 Permanent Defence Force members being awarded a Cadetship.

  The 2019 recruitment campaign for the Defence Forces has already commenced. The recruitment plan proposed by the Permanent Defence Force envisages some 800 new entrants being inducted in 2019, comprising of General Service Recruits, Apprentices, Cadets and Direct Entry Officers.

  The Government is committed to ensuring that the Defence Forces retain the capacity to operate effectively across all roles.

Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 71.

Defence Forces Strength

 74. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the strength of the Air Corps; if numbers have increased in recent times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9722/19]

 75. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the strength of the Naval Service; if numbers have increased in recent times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9723/19]

 76. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the strength of the Army; if numbers have increased in recent times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9724/19]

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. 74 to 76, inclusive, together.

As of the 31st January 2019, the latest figures available, the whole time equivalent strength of the Permanent Defence Force stood at 8,921 personnel, broken down as follows:

  - Army:                         7,215 personnel

  - Air Corps:                     722 personnel

  - Naval Service:               984 personnel

  The Government remains committed to on-going recruitment to increase the strength of the Permanent Defence Force to the establishment level of 9,500 personnel.

  In order to achieve this target, the recruitment plan proposed by the Permanent Defence Force envisages some 800 new entrants being inducted in 2019, comprising of General Service Recruits, Apprentices, Cadets and Direct Entry Officers.

  The ensuing net change in strength will be dependent on a variety of factors including the number of trained personnel that depart, the achievement of recruitment targets and the number of trainees that successfully complete training, all of which can vary year on year.

  The Government is committed to maximising recruitment and so retain the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles

  Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 71.

  Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 48.

Overseas Missions Data

 79. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of Army, Naval Service and Air Corps personnel serving overseas with the UN or otherwise; the number of missions anticipated in the course of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9727/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe As of 1 February 2019, Ireland is contributing 673 personnel to 9 different missions throughout the world and also to a range of international organisations and National representations.

  The total number of Defence Forces personnel, Army, Navy and Air Corps currently serving overseas is 653 Army, 16 Air Corps and 4 Naval Service.

  The main overseas missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed is the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 458 personnel and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria with 136 personnel. The UNIFIL mission in Lebanon continues to represent Ireland's largest overseas deployment.

  Until recently, Irish troops served as part of a joint Irish-Finnish Battalion in UNIFIL. The Finnish contingent also included an Estonian Platoon comprising some 36 personnel. Due to other National commitments both Finland and Estonia withdrew from the Irish-Finnish Battalion in UNIFIL in November 2018.    As an interim measure, an additional contingent of approximately 106 Defence Forces Personnel have been deployed to the UNIFIL mission to cover the backfilling of the Finnish contingent for a 12 month period. This additional commitment will continue throughout 2019 as Ireland has assumed full duties and responsibilities of IRISHBATT up to November 2019.

  Poland advised that they would be willing to partner Ireland in UNIFIL from November, 2019. It is proposed that Hungarian personnel would also deploy as part of the Polish contingent. Discussions on the details of this arrangement are currently being advanced.

  With regard to the deployment of Defence Forces personnel to new military operations overseas, the deployment of a small contingent of Army Ranger Wing personnel to the MINUSMA mission in Mali is under active consideration for 2019. MINUSMA is the UN mission providing support to the Malian Government in reasserting its authority over northern Mali. I must stress however, that these considerations are at a very early stage and further detailed analysis and planning will be required in advance of seeking Government approval for a deployment.

  The Department of Defence constantly reviews the deployment of Defence Forces personnel overseas. Ireland receives requests, from time to time, in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis.

  Ireland has always been a strong supporter of the United Nations and UN Peacekeeping. Our commitment and support for the primary role of the United Nations, in the maintenance of international peace and security, is expressed in Ireland's long-standing tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations. This commitment is also expressed in our engagement in the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)

   Full details of all personnel currently serving overseas are shown in the tabular statement beneath.

   MEMBERS OF THE PERMANENT DEFENCE FORCE SERVING OVERSEAS AS OF 01 FEBRUARY 2019

  NTA capital and current Exchequer allocation as per published Agency Statements

€m
NTA Allocation as % of total allocation for Vote PSO funding allocated to the NTA under Vote

€m
PSO funding as % of NTA allocation

2010 905 39% 276 30%
2011 507 30% 265 52%
2012 377 24% 278 74%
2013 399 33% 227 57%
2014 361 28% 212 59%
2015 350 29% 210 60%
2016 449 33% 237 53%
2017 461 32% 264 57%
2018 525 26% 285 54%
2019 584 25% 287 49%

Defence Forces Personnel Data

 80. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which retirements and resignations in the Defence Forces have been replaced with a view to ensuring an adequate management structure throughout; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9728/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The number of personnel inducted and departing can vary significantly from year to year. 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.

The 2019 recruitment campaign for the Defence Forces has already commenced with the first of these, the Naval Service General Service Recruit competition, having closed on 21 January. The 2019 recruitment plan proposed by the Permanent Defence Force envisages some 800 new entrants being inducted, comprising of General Service Recruits, Apprentices, Cadets and Direct Entry Officers.

With the support of the Chief of Staff, I remain committed to maximising recruitment to ensure that the Defence Forces are staffed in a manner that will enable them to continue to deliver the services required of them by Government.

Defence Forces Equipment

 81. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which the Defence Forces are adequately equipped to deal with emergencies in respect of which they may be called upon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9729/19]

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 operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

  At National level, representation on the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning by both the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, ensures the fullest coordination and cooperation in the event of an emergency and that the command structure within the Defence Forces is compatible with the requirements in this area.

In accordance with the Framework for Major Emergency Management, primary responsibility for responding to emergencies such as severe weather events or terrorist attacks rests with the three designated principal response agencies, namely, the relevant Local Authority, An Garda Síochána, and the Health Service Executive. The Defence Forces provide the fullest possible assistance to the appropriate Lead Department in the event of a natural disaster or an emergency situation in its Aid to the Civil Authority and Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) roles. Major Emergency Plans have been developed by local and regional authorities and these Plans identify the procedures for requesting assistance from the Defence Forces.

  I also wish to assure you that the Defence Forces retain a wide range of specialist skills and equipment. The full spectrum of Defence Forces personnel and equipment are available for deployment in response to any emergencies that may arise. The Operations Directorate in Defence Forces Headquarters manages the necessary cross-service coordination in responding to requests for support. In this context, the security environment is kept under constant review. An Garda Síochána can request a broad range of specialist supports from the Defence Forces including Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams and the Army Ranger Wing. These arrangements have proved effective in all emergencies encountered to date.

  The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me. Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service is considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process and I wish to assure you that significant investment in equipment is taking place in the coming years in this context.

I am committed to ensuring that the personnel of the Defence Forces continue to be equipped and trained to best international standards and I can confirm that the Defence Forces keep their operational plans and response capabilities for dealing with a wide range of threats under constant review. I am satisfied that the Defence Forces are equipped and resourced to respond, as appropriate, to any such events were they to occur in this State.

Search and Rescue Service Provision

 82. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which the Air Corps and Naval Service continues to co-operate in air and sea rescue missions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9730/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Defence Organisation provides a broad range of services in accordance with its primary security role while it also undertakes a diverse range of non security related tasks.

With reference to Search and Rescue, since 2004 the Irish Coast Guard has overall responsibility for the provision of Search and Rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue region. Both the Naval Service and the Air Corps provide support to the Irish Coast Guard in maritime Search and Rescue operations on an “as available” basis. A Service Level Agreement is in place setting out their roles and responsibilities in this regard.

The Defence Organisation will continue to provide support, as available, to the Irish Coast Guard in respect of Coast Guard Search and Rescue operations.


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