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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 160-174
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel
 Header Item Defence Forces Allowances
 Header Item Defence Forces Remuneration
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel
 Header Item Defence Forces Reserve
 Header Item Defence Forces Remuneration
 Header Item Naval Service
 Header Item Defence Forces Reserve
 Header Item Defence Forces Properties
 Header Item Defence Forces Operations
 Header Item Defence Forces
 Header Item Regional Aid
 Header Item Child Abuse
 Header Item School Enrolments
 Header Item Schools Building Projects

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 4
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 58 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 160-174

Defence Forces Personnel

 160. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of career break applications in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps in each of the years 2016 to 2019 and to date in 2020; the number of career breaks granted in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30695/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The administration of Career Breaks or Special Leave Without Pay and Allowances, is provided for by Defence Force Regulation A11, Paragraph 36.

  The Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) determines the granting of such leave, which is subject to the exigencies of the service.

  Members of the Defence Forces may be granted no more than two career breaks over the course of their service in the Permanent Defence Force. Career breaks may be granted for the purposes of domestic responsibilities, further education and travel abroad for periods of not less than six months and not more than five years. A career break for the purposes of self-employment will consist of special leave without pay and allowances for a period of not less than six months, and not more than three years.

  The number of Defence Forces personnel who availed of a career break at the end of each year for the period in question is set out in the Table below:

Year Army Air Corps Naval Service Total
2016 60 6 3 69
2017 71 2 1 74
2018 90 4 3 97
2019 85 3 5 93
2020* 61 4 4 69


  * as at 30 Sep 2020

  I am advised that details of the number of applications for Career Breaks submitted over the same period, was not available within the timeframe of this request. I have therefore requested Military Authorities to provide me with this information as soon as possible and I will duly forward this to the Deputy.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51

I have been advised that career break applications are received and processed at Brigade/Formation level. The military authorities have informed me that records pertaining to career break applications that are received and rejected are not held on a central database, and the figures requested are not maintained.    However, in relation to 2020, in addition to the 69 applications granted as of 30 September, I am informed that there are sixteen applications currently being processed.

Defence Forces Allowances

 161. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the cost of increasing military service allowances by 10%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30696/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Public Sector Pay Policy is determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, having regard to Public Service agreements conducted through central negotiations.

  The allocation for Military Service Allowance is included within the Permanent Defence Force Pay allocation of the Defence Vote. Military Service Allowance is paid to all ranks from Private up to the level of Colonel.

  In 2019 total expenditure on Military Service Allowance was €47.5 million. In simple numerical terms, the cost of increasing Military Service Allowance by 10%, based on the 2019 outturn figure, would be approximately €4.75 million per annum.

Defence Forces Remuneration

 162. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the cost of increasing technical pay by 10%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30697/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Public Sector Pay Policy is determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, having regard to Public Service agreements conducted through central negotiations.

The allocation for Technical Pay is included within the Permanent Defence Force Pay allocation of the Defence Vote. Technical Pay is a weekly allowance paid at different rates to certain, qualified enlisted personnel to fill particular appointments in a wide variety of trade, technical and specialist appointments.

In 2019 total expenditure on Technical Pay was €6.17 million. In simple numerical terms, the cost of increasing Technical Pay by 10%, based on the 2019 outturn figure, would be approximately €617,000 per annum.

Defence Forces Personnel

 163. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of discharges being processed and-or pending from the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30698/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am informed by the military authorities that it was not possible to collate the required information within the timeframe available. I shall provide the information to the Deputy once it becomes available.

Defence Forces Reserve

 164. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to provide employment protection legislation for reservists to allow for the undertaking of courses, exercises or other activities within the Defence Forces; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30699/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Ensuring an appropriate balance between voluntary activities and work and home life is a key challenge that is common to individuals involved in many voluntary activities throughout the State. In order to facilitate the voluntary nature of Reserve service therefore, and to maximise attendance of Army Reserve (AR) and Naval Service Reserve (NSR) members, I am advised by the Military Authorities that training is normally organised both in and out of normal working hours, at weekends and during academic and traditional holiday periods. However, the current public health guidelines associated with COVID-19 have had an impact on training this year.

Nevertheless, as members of the Defence Forces continue to contribute to the Government’s response to the current public health crisis, Some members of the (Reserve Defence Force) RDF who have skills which are required in the COVID 19 response, have been engaged in authorised COVID 19 training activities in support of the PDF, on a voluntary basis, and where their personal circumstances allow.

Members of the RDF are paid in such circumstances and their support is welcomed, however, these activities are also undertaken on a voluntary basis. In light of the implications for both employers and potential employees and the voluntary nature of RDF activities, there are no plans to introduce employment protection legislation for RDF members, for such activities or training.

The provisions underpinning deployment of the AR and NSR are contained in the Defence Act 1954 and Defence Forces Regulation R5. This legislation provides for, amongst other things, the call out of members of the RDF on permanent service during periods of emergency. The Deputy will be aware that while the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020 provides for employment protection measures in the event that RDF members are called out in such circumstances, there are currently no plans to do so.

The Programme for Government provides for the establishment of a Commission on the Defence Forces. The Work of the Commission will inform the future development of the RDF.

Defence Forces Remuneration

 165. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the cost implications of excluding wages paid to reservists from income tax for 2019 and 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30700/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Income tax is deducted by the Department of Defence from the pay of members of the Reserve Defence Force when they are on paid attendance and it is paid over to the Revenue Commissioners in accordance with the usual rules governing such matters.

  The amount of tax deducted in 2019 was some €0.45m. In relation to 2020, the amount deducted to end-Sept was some €0.2m. (The amounts involved do not include USC).

  Any decision to grant an exemption in relation to the deduction of income tax would be a matter for the Minister for Finance in the first instance.

Naval Service

 166. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the cost of establishing two Naval Service crews for each ship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30701/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Expenditure in relation to the Naval Service is drawn from a range of different subheads from across the Defence Vote and is not broken down on the basis of personnel numbers per ship or for the flotilla as a whole.

At present, the establishment for the Naval Service flotilla comprises 469 personnel out of a total Naval Service establishment of 1,094. Providing for increased numbers, beyond the flotilla's current establishment, to the extent outlined by the Deputy, would require consideration of a wide range of capability requirements underpinning such an increase, and an assessment of the associated cost implications.

The additional requirements and costs associated with establishing two Naval Service crews for each ship would be considerable. These would include, but not be limited to, significantly increased pay, allowances and other personnel related costs, additional equipment and ordnance requirements, significantly expanded infrastructure requirements including accommodation and a range of other facilities, additional training and education requirements, as well as organisational requirements in terms of additional headquarters and shore based personnel. My Department does not retain such costings.

Defence Forces Reserve

 167. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to modernise the public sector circular 51 of 1978, which provides reservists leave for training with the Defence Forces but does not provide cover for other situations such as aid to civil power; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30702/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am advised that the relevant Department of Finance Circular pertaining to Leave for attendance at training with the Reserve Defence Force, is Circular 51 of 1979.

  This circular, as the Deputy will be aware, outlines the provisions for leave arrangements by Civil Servants who attend Reserve Defence Force training.

  Any proposals to amend this circular, and increasing leave for Civil Servants under any circumstances, would be outside my remit as Minister for Defence and are instead, a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform.

  Under the terms of the Circular, civil servants who are members of the RDF, may currently, be granted special leave with pay as follows if they attend for the full period of the course of training:

  - For a course of annual training lasting 7 days – 3 working days

  - For a course of annual training lasting 14 days – 7 working days

  - For a course of annual training lasting 21 days – 10 working days

  - For a course of basic training lasting 14 to 30 days – Special leave with pay for 5 working days.

  In addition, selected members of the RDF may attend special courses of training and additional leave with pay is provided in these circumstances.

  Civil Servants are eligible for the concessions granted under this Circular once in any leave year.

  As members of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) continue to contribute to the Government’s response to the current public health crisis, some members of the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) who have skills which are required in the COVID 19 response, have been engaged in authorised COVID 19 activities in support of the PDF, on a voluntary basis and where their personal circumstances allow. Members of the Reserve are paid in such circumstances and their support is welcomed. There are no plans to engage members of the Reserve Defence Forces in Aid to the Civil Power.

Defence Forces Properties

 168. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to invest in accommodation to be provided to military families to ease the financial burdens on them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30703/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The provision of local authority, social and/or affordable housing is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

The provision of married quarters to serving personnel is no longer provided. There has been a long standing established policy since the late 1990's to withdraw from the provision of housing quarters for Defence Forces personnel. The policy has been given effect on a gradual basis and accordingly long term residential accommodation is no longer provided.

Defence Forces Operations

 169. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the strength of the Defence Forces and Reserve Defence Forces CIS units; the established strength of each; his plans to enhance cybersecurity protections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30704/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am informed by the military authorities that the establishment figure for the Communications and Information Services Corps (CIS) of the Permanent Defence Force is 491 personnel and for the Reserve Defence Force is 101 personnel. For operational reasons, current strengths are not provided.

The National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, is the primary authority responsible for cyber security in the State.

While the primary role of the Defence Forces with regard to Cyber Security relates to the defence and security of its own networks and systems, the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are committed to participating, under the leadership of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, in the delivery of measures to improve the Cyber Security of the State.

Department officials and members of the Defence Forces are actively involved in the implementation of the National Cyber Security Strategy which, in conjunction with the White Paper on Defence 2015, will continue to inform our engagement in this critical area. This includes work to develop an updated, detailed risk assessment of the current vulnerability of all Critical National Infrastructure and services to cyber-attacks and the provision of a member of the Defence Forces for secondment to the Cyber Security Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia.

In addition, the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces have a Memorandum of Understanding and a Service Level Agreement with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications to provide support in the area of national cyber security.

While it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the specific cyber activities and the resourcing of same by the Defence Forces, for both security and operational reasons, I can inform the Deputy that the priority for the Defence Forces CIS is the protection of the Defence Forces Communications Network.

Defence Forces

 170. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if all members of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps are provided with a Defence Forces email address upon joining to facilitate easier communication throughout the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30705/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Defence Forces official email facilities are provided to members of the Defence Forces whose official duties require them to have access to Defence Forces email.

The Defence Forces Internal Communication Strategy aims to ensure that Defence Forces personnel feel valued, listened to and have a common purpose. All leaders are required to pro-actively communicate with personnel so that all our ranks are kept fully informed at all times.

Internal communications methods used to keep personnel informed include face-to-face communications, Chain of Command structure (talks to troops), Standardised Notice Boards, An Cosantoir Magazine, the members area on www.military.ie, the establishment of a feedback e-mail address open to all ranks and use of Internal email. A number of enhanced IT solutions are currently being explored with the Director of Communications and Information Services, including an internal communications smartphone messaging app where personnel can access information off-site. An initial proof of concept and field test of the app and initial feedback has been completed, and the planning to expand this app including security, verification, budgeting and content is currently being investigated.

Regional Aid

 171. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the value of regional aid granted under the regional aid guidelines granted by his Department or agencies under the remit of his Department in each of the past seven years; the value by county or lowest possible NUTS level over the period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30894/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Department of Defence has not been involved in the granting of regional aid, over the specified period.

Child Abuse

 172. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the progress made in respect of a report (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30821/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley While the report was launched last Friday the 9th October, my Department is very conscious that survivors will continue to need support into the future.

In July 2019, two facilitators employed by the Department published a report on the outcomes of their initial consultations with survivors. It was intended that the consultation would set out the themes and issues to be addressed by a survivor led consultation group. Facilitators are continuing to work with a group of survivors to identify what their needs are and to see how mainstream services should be configured to address those needs. The publication of this report is a welcome addition to the body of knowledge on the long term needs of survivors.

School Enrolments

 173. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the number of pupils in primary schools in the Malahide, Portmarnock and Kinsealy areas; the number of pupils in post-primary schools in the same areas; her plans to expand the number of primary and post-primary places; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30651/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not publish or collate data for specific geographic areas. My Department publishes comprehensive enrolment data on the Department's website, www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Data-on-Individual-Schools/ with 2019-20 being the most recent year for which data is available. This data can be filtered by school roll number and geographically by Local Authority, County and school address.

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential development in each area. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development.

Where data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

Under Project Ireland 2040, my Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector, in order to meet demographic and other demands. My Department will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population.

A new school, Malahide/Portmarnock Educate Together Secondary School was established in September 2019 and is currently based in interim accommodation on the site where the school's permanent accommodation will be constructed. The building project for the permanent school building is currently at tender stage.

The current status of all building projects being delivered may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie and this information is updated regularly.

It is open to schools to apply for accommodation under my Department's ' Additional School Accommodation Scheme' if individual schools do not have sufficient capacity to cater for school enrolments.

Schools Building Projects

 174. Deputy Charles Flanagan Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the status of a new building for a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30665/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently under construction. Construction ceased during the National lockdown and recommenced on site recently. It is anticipated that the project will be complete in Quarter 1 2021.


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