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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Mar 1965

Vol. 214 No. 9

Committee on Finance. - Vote 43—Defence (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a sum not exceeding £6,959,800 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1966, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Defence, including certain Services administered by that Office; for the Pay and Expenses of the Defence Forces; and for payment of a Grant-in-Aid.
—(Minister for Defence).

Before I reported progress last night, I referred to the fact that there are still people in this country who seem to think that if a young fellow gets into trouble, the proper thing to do is recommend him to join the Army; at least a few weeks ago I saw such a comment by somebody who should have known better. I was interrupted by the Minister who pointed out that those people were not accepted in the Army. I am well aware they are not accepted and it is an excellent thing they are not. But, if somebody in a responsible position makes a comment that a person who has been up for breaking the law should join the Army, it gives the impression that the Army will accept people of that type. I want to make it clear that as far as this House is concerned the expressed opinion is that the Army are doing the proper thing in refusing to accept any except people of good character. That is the system at the present time and that system should be continued, and should be made clear to everybody concerned.

Reference was made by Deputy MacEoin and myself to the people who served both in the Congo and in Cyprus and there is one point I should like to draw to the Minister's attention. Perhaps he is unaware of it. When many of these people return to this country, they have reached the stage at which they can retire and they leave the Army. I am reliably informed that quite a number of people have found it impossible to obtain civilian employment. Some of them I know of were in very bad straits and usually such people finish up in England, perhaps join the British Army, and are lost to this country. That is a shocking state of affairs.

When people who have given such excellent service to the Army leave the Army, every effort should be made to find employment for them. I know of one person who tramped around from barracks to barracks trying to get an ordinary labouring job with the Board of Works, and although he was a fine young man capable of doing a good day's work, he could not get a job. Although there were vacancies, there was no vacancy for him. It is too bad that that situation should be allowed to continue. We have a further responsibility to these men after they leave the Army.

The strength of the Army and the question of recruitment come under review on this Estimate. The matter, to my mind, is not being faced up to in the way it should be. For instance, the figures for the Army strength last year were 11,666 all ranks but the Minister has not told us what the strength of the regular Army is today. He knows that the strength is very much below that figure and a significant thing was that we got the figures of what this strength would be, if at full strength, and what the cost would be, but as soon as we came to deal with the actual cost, the figures for the strength of the Army were dropped. Obviously there was some reason for that and the Minister should come straight out and tell us the position. We would all like to give him every possible assistance to bring the Army up to strength but there are half a dozen different reasons which caused the Army to reach its present level.

One of the chief reasons is the question of pay. It cannot be stressed too much that it is unreasonable to expect young men to embark on a career in the Army when they know the rate of pay they will receive will be very much lower than what they could earn even as labourers in civilian employment. It is also unreasonable to imagine that those who have been serving for a number of years—and some of them have been a very long time in the Army—should continue to be content with a rate of pay which does not make them even second-class citizens, because they cannot compete with their civilian counterparts when they leave the Army.

The Minister may consider that those are harsh words but I have a keen interest in the Defence Forces in which there are many of my former comrades and I do not believe that they are getting a fair deal. It is all right for the Minister to say that they got the ninth round but so did everybody else. One thing which was wrong with the ninth round was that the man with low wages, on a percentage increase, received very little compared with somebody very much higher up, on the same percentage.

One thing which happened last year, and the Minister must be aware of it, was that for some extraordinary reason a rumour was started about last November to the effect that there was a further increase for soldiers about to take place. Every soldier I met, no matter of what rank, was under the impression that that increase was coming. Some of them are even foolish enough to believe that it is still coming and that they will get it with retrospective effect. I do not know who started the rumour but it was a rotten, shabby trick to play and it has resulted in grave discontent among the ranks. They feel they were prevented from getting something to which they were entitled. If they are to get an increase, give it to them; if not, do not let us start the rumour high enough to make them believe it is the truth.

One thing which a man in a job likes to look forward to is a pension scheme. Civil servants, local authority employees and employees in civilian jobs are well covered in that regard and are treated decently when they retire. That is not so, however, in the Army. To begin with, a man must complete 21 years service before he is entitled to a pension. The pension he then gets is only a small pension. If he is an officer, he is all right: certain types can get a gratuity which will enable them to get a start in life but the soldier who has spent from 21 years upwards, whether as an NCO or private, will get only a small pension but no gratuity when he leaves.

The Minister can say that he gets the 90 days to which he is entitled on leaving the Army but often he does not get that. If he is fortunate enough to find employment in the State, he does not get any predischarge leave or gets it only until he takes up employment. If the soldier who is going out looks for employment, he does not get his insurance card until the 90 days predischarge leave is up. In effect, he is looking for a job for 90 days and if he is fortunate enough to get it, he draws his insurance card and the State feels it has no further responsibility.

The private gets a very small pension but if we come up as high as a company quartermaster sergeant who has, say, 21 years service, then his basic pension is £2.17.9. a week. The contributory old age pensioner gets almost that now. Is there any use talking about treating people fairly when you have this sort of thing going on? If the man is going to stay on after 21 years, his commanding officer must OK him. He may be as satisfactory as could be but if the commanding officer does not OK him, for one reason or another, out he goes. If the commanding officer decides to OK his employment in the Army for a further two years, then he gets one shilling per year of service. After two years service he gets a further shilling per year of service up to a maximum of ten years, which adds to his £2.17.9d. another 10/-. Glory be to God, if he is a married man, the Army certainly looks after him. He gets a married pension of 18/11d per week.

With whom do the Army authorities or the Department of Defence think they are dealing? Those men have given responsible service, there is no doubt about that. I have deliberately chosen this particular rank because there are, I understand, 120 of them employed on FCA training at the present time. They are responsible not alone for a tremendous amount of gear belonging to the Army and the FCA but they are also responsible for the safekeeping of this property. How are they treated when they leave the Army? They get this money, £2.17.9d. plus 10/-, if they are a further ten years over 21 years there. If they are married they get 18/11 extra, a total of £4 6s. 8d. pension.

Some of those people joined the Army at the beginning and have had over 40 years service. When they are retiring, this is what they get. There is no point in saying they can get another job because one of the most frustrating things for any ex-soldier is his inability, if he has been over 20 years in the Army, no matter what his age is, to find suitable civilian employment. The young fellow who does a few years may have some chance but the man who has stayed 21 years not alone cannot get suitable employment but cannot get any employment unless he is very lucky and gets somebody to pull strings for him. The belief is, because he has spent over 20 years in the Army, he would not know how to do anything else. He is just paid off by the Army with a few shillings, and pence for the children. There is no point in the Minister saying those are regulations which have been laid down and we are carrying them out. If the Minister were big enough to acknowledge that this is wrong and that something should be done about it, he would get the support of every Deputy.

The State in order to help soldiers with long service should give them a start by granting them a gratuity. It would not break the country. It would not break the Vote of over £10 million for the Department of Defence to give them a gratuity of £400-£500. When such schemes are suggested, the Government's attitude is to ask where the money is to come from and whether the Opposition can say where it can be found. I should like to remind the Minister that before the last war the Army estimate was very small. Overnight, when war was declared, there was absolutely no difficulty at all in finding the tremendous finance required. Nobody objected because it was needed. I suggest it is needed now and if the Department of Defence are really serious about the Army, they must give them more than they are getting. As serving soldiers, they should be treated decently when they are leaving the Army. It would be an encouragement for young men who have an inclination to join the Defence Forces, if they knew they would be treated properly both in the Army and when they were leaving it.

There are a number of things I should like to refer to in connection with the Army. In the Minister's speech on the Estimate less than one page was devoted to the Army. I was rather surprised. It made me wonder why. Perhaps, the Minister deliberately spoke about other things in his opening address but most certainly he was very sparing in his reference to the regular Army. We have got, according to the Minister, quite a substantial number of people in the FCA. I do not think the Minister is right there. While there are a number of dedicated people in the FCA who are doing everything they possibly can to keep the work going, I believe the attraction for the youth to join the force is waning. That should not be so. I believe the main reason is the way the FCA are being treated. The whole approach is wrong. A very definite effort should be made to improve the position.

I want to refer to the uniforms. The Army uniform was improved last year but if I had any say in regard to the selection of the uniform, I would not have selected either the type or the cut of material used in the Army or FCA uniform. The FCA uniform is baggy. Everybody knows the young people in this country—leaving out the teddy boys—take pride in their attire. It is certainly no attraction to them to have to wear the type of uniform supplied to the FCA and the Army and be required to walk through the cities and towns of this country.

Apropos dress, I understand that an order was issued recently. It is the most ridiculous one I ever heard. Everybody admits the present walking out dress of the Irish Army officer is a very smart one. It looks well and if they go to the trouble of dressing properly, it is very impressive. I understand that a direction was recently issued requiring officers attending civilian functions to wear full dress uniform. The full ceremonial Irish Army attire for officers is a blue uniform with red stripes. It is a shocking thing to suggest that this should be done and I would ask the Minister to make inquiries and find out if that is so. If it is so, somebody has made a bad mistake and it should be rectified. We know what will happen now. Officers will go in mufti and we will no longer see our smart looking officers.

The question of Civil Defence was mentioned. I do not know whether the Minister is serious or not but he has given 17,000 as being the present strength of the Civil Defence service. Does he believe that is correct? I do not. I have travelled a lot around this country and let me be quite frank about this. The only people I see interested in Civil Defence are the officials of local authorities. The main reason they are in it is that they are told they should be. If there are 17,000 people in Civil Defence in this country, perhaps the Minister will break down the figures and tell us how many there are in each county. I know how many there are in my own county and how many there are in the neighbouring counties. I would be very interested to know how the 17,000 are made up. I believe it is just, as it was described last year, a bad joke on the people of this country if they are given the impression they are there. I believe the place to talk about this matter is on the floor of the House. If the Minister is able to tell me that there are 17,000 active people in Civil Defence, I shall be the most delighted person in the House, but I am afraid he will not be able to do that.

As far as the Red Cross is concerned, they have, over the years, been doing quite a decent job. I will not refer to the political affiliations of the Red Cross, but there is one comment which has been made again and again. It has been said that if something happens anywhere in the world, the Irish Red Cross immediately step into the breach, but that they do not seem to be so anxious to do something when a minor disaster happens in this country. Maybe that is not so; maybe they do step in—I do not know—but that comment has been made both by individuals and in the public press. Perhaps the Minister can point to the activities of the Red Cross in cases of severe hardship. I should be glad to hear him. I know that a number of voluntary organisations have been doing excellent work.

The Minister referred to the training of Aer Lingus pilots in Gormanston. That is an excellent idea, but someone has to look after those pilots, and the situation is that a few men are on fatigues continuously waiting on those pilots and looking after them as if they were royalty. They are doing that work without getting an extra penny as recompense. I do not think men who join the Army to defend their country, if necessary, should be asked to act as batmen to a group of civilians. The Minister should make other arrangements, or those people should be paid for doing the work. Civilians could be brought in to do it. That type of fatigues can develop into something very like slavery. It is a situation that should not be allowed to continue. It leaves a bad odour. I am bringing it to the Minister's attention and I hope he will take the necessary steps to see that it is discontinued as quickly as possible.

Another item that merits comment is that men over a certain age cannot get promotion. I know quite a number of men who would make excellent NCOs but who, because they were a few months over the age, were told: "We know you are the right person but you cannot get promotion." In fact they were acting as unpaid NCOs. This question of sticking strictly to the letter of the regulations is overdone in the Army. The Minister relaxed a number of annoying regulations when he took office and made Army life much more bearable, but there are still some things that could be changed. If the regulations are there, they will be adhered to by those in authority. I know one man who was a couple of days over the age and could not get promotion. That is all cod, and I would ask the Minister to do something about it.

The same thing occurs in the case of men who want to rejoin. I brought to the Minister's notice the case of a sergeant who had long service. He was a marksman and an instructor in various types of weapons. He left the Army and then applied for readmission. It was found that he was one month over age and his application was held up for a couple of months, until it could be said he was a few months over the age. He was refused permission to rejoin the Army at a time when the Army were finding it impossible to get recruits. This is not the Minister's fault, but the fault of all the red tape and the green tape. In his own interest, the Minister should wipe out a lot of that sort of thing. If he does, he will be doing a good job, and he will be remembered with pleasure by members of the Defence Forces long after he has left his present office.

Deputy MacEoin referred to the housing of soldiers and to the fact that a number of local authorities will not house soldiers or ex-soldiers. I am glad to be a member of a local authority that will house either or both according to their living conditions. It does not matter if they are serving soldiers, ex-soldiers or civilians, if their housing conditions warrant it, they are rehoused. That is as it should be, but that is not the end of the story. The Minister should continue with the experiment which he referred to of building houses for members of the Defence Forces in the areas in which their permanent barracks are situated.

I live beside Gormanston Camp and I know a number of young married men whose wives live in County Dublin while they live in the camp or somewhere else in the county and they cannot get housing accommodation from the Meath local authority because they have no temporary accommodation in County Meath. I believe the onus is on the Minister to ensure that houses are made available for such people. He could build houses in such places as Drogheda, Laytown or Bettystown, where sites could be made available.

The special allowances were referred to also. The Minister tended to take pride in the fact that there has been an increase of £4. He said that the average was £20 per year. If the average is £20 per year and some people can get as much as £140 per year, the minimum must be terribly small. I do not think it right that men who have to prove that they gave service to the country when they were required, should be offered a sum like £20 a year or 8/- a week. The Minister should appreciate that people who apply for special allowances are in a certain class. They are in the class of people who feel they require some assistance or they would not demean themselves by asking the State for something.

I do not like to interrupt the Deputy but I do not want him to base his remarks on £20. The average is £75.

There is a reference to the average of £20 being increased by £4. It is in the debate and I shall get it before I finish. However, the Minister says it is £75 and that does not make much difference because if the maximum is £140 the minimum must be very small.

There is another aspect which the Minister should remember. I know an instance of a man who applied for and was given a special allowance. He had reared a big family. He was ill and was on social welfare benefit—as a matter of fact, he was at death's door a few months ago. He had some money invested when he applied for the special allowance. Since then, someone went around snooping and it was found that he had more money invested than was originally thought. It was not enough that his allowance was discontinued and that he had to pay back the amount he had received but in addition, he was taken to court so that everyone would know that according to the State he was dishonest. I am quite sure that if instead of being released at the end of the Tan War, he had been executed and brought back to Ireland only a few days ago, he would have been given a State funeral. That man did everything he was asked to do at that time and the thanks he got from the State was to be taken to court so that everyone would know he did not mention a few pounds he had in the bank, and got a few pounds to which he was not entitled, and therefore he must suffer the consequences. I am not condoning dishonesty in either this or any other case but when dealing with people who, years ago, gave good service to the State, they should be dealt with with the gloved hand rather than the mailed fist. The mailed fist was used wrongly in this case.

The helicopter service has made an excellent effort to justify its existence. For a long time, Deputies had been asking the Minister to do something in that direction and we feel now that the service, as at present constituted, is not enough. When they were being purchased, the Minister said that three were being bought because they would require a nest of three to service one. We have the Naval Service in the same condition for different reasons. The Minister should now make provision for the further extension of the helicopter service, particularly in view of the fact that the fishery protection service is so inadequate. Something should be done to improve it.

The extension of the fishery limit to 12 miles has put an insurmountable burden on the helicopter service and on the Naval Service. There is no point in trying to deal with that problem at present because it cannot be done. The purchase of smaller and lighter boats has been suggested and while I do not know enough about these matters to be able to comment on that proposal, I do know that it should be possible to spot the trawlers which come not alone inside the 12 mile limit and the three mile limit, but into the very mouths of the rivers to catch the salmon and take them from our fishermen.

The Minister has referred to the apprentice scheme and to the fact that the trade unions now recognise the scheme for service outside. That is an excellent thing. The lads who are being trained there are getting a very good training, but, owing to the small amount of money they receive, the temptation is very strong for them to come outside and earn a few shillings. The result is that many of these young men are leaving the service and coming into civilian life. The Minister should look at that aspect of the question.

There is also the case of the young fellows who join the Army and who find after a few years, perhaps because of the death of a father, that they are unable to make enough to support the family. Usually they go on leave, do not return, and are posted as deserters. Many of them go across the water and when they come back, are courtmartialled. When cases of this kind are published, the reasons usually given in excuse are financial ones. I hold no brief for deserters but perhaps the Minister would consider putting some type of limitation on this offence after which these people would not be prosecuted.

There is something wrong in the idea that if a man leaves the Army because of the human factor, if he goes away and makes a good living for himself—and I know some who have built up a good business and have families to look after—and if he wants to make his peace with the Army, he must come back and go through the ordeal of being courtmartialled. These people are still members of the Army although they are unwilling soldiers. Such people are bad soldiers and of no use to the Army. Perhaps the substitution of a fine for the courtmartial would be a better way of dealing with the matter. The Minister would have more experience of this matter than I but I know that quite a number of people have written to the Minister about it. The reply has always been that they should return and surrender themselves to their unit, after which their cases will be considered. That sort of case should be dealt with in a different way and the Minister is the man who can do that.

I was amazed at the information that two boats have now to be bought because of the erection of a bridge. A large sum of money is being laid out on them. Surely there should be some other way out of this problem? If we have to spend £66,000, because a bridge was built in Cork, to service Spike Island, I think it is stretching the thing too far. That is quite a substantial sum of money which could be applied in other ways to assist the Army.

I would again ask the Minister to look into the matter of our overseas commitments. No country in the world, big or little, can claim that we have not done our share, and more than our share. I know there are many young men who are looking forward to a trip overseas, firstly, because of the extra money and also because they want to see the world, but despite that we have done our share. It looks now as if we will have to pay extra ourselves because, quite rightly, the Government do not wish to accept the voluntary contribution and it is time the whole question of sending further troops overseas should be considered.

The whole question of service in the Army is bedevilled by the fact that there is so much killing boredom. Serving soldiers tell me there is so little to do: a certain amount of fatigues, a certain amount of drill, very little sport and no other activities. Would the Minister consider doing something to enliven Army life? During the Emergency a number of people in my battalion were inclined to become very bad soldiers because of boredom but when there was a chance of active service, these men immediately took an interest in their work and became fellows on whom you could depend to do their share. I suggest that there should be some scheme which will give an interest in their life to the present serving soldiers.

I notice, too, over the past few years, particularly, that the number of Army teams taking part in local sports is getting fewer and fewer. Has the idea that the Army should be engaged in various types of sports as a recreation died down? Where once we had hurling, football, soccer and rugby teams all over the place in Army units, we do not seem to have them competing with civilians any longer. The Minister might take an interest in that.

I believe that the first thing we must do is to try to make the soldier contented with his lot. After pay and conditions, which means the way he is treated in the unit, I think sport should come next. It is one of the things which the Minister could very well advert to and advertise. If he does that, he might find it far easier to get the recruits he needs so much.

I shall not refer at all to the Naval Service because I believe that the approach to that, also, is out of date and that if we wait a little bit longer, it will deal with itself by going out of existence. I believe we must, however, see to it that the Army is kept up to date with weapons and with the type of training they get. That can be done only if there is a greater interest in the personnel engaged in the Army and if we just do not have people clocking in at 8.30 a.m., attending parade at 9 a.m., fatigues until lunch, then parade at 2 p.m. and at 4.30 p.m. they are gone, and that is the end of it. That is not my idea of having an up-to-date Army and I am sure the Minister will agree with me.

I very much agree with the concluding part of Deputy Tully's remarks. I was disappointed that the Minister did not pay more attention to the Army in introducing his Estimate for the Department of Defence. It appears to me to be a chronic mistake, which is always being made, to regard the Army as just one part of the Department of Defence. The only significance of the Department of Defence is as the administrative organ for looking after the Army but the Army is the essential part. Far too often, we get tangled up in the Department of Defence. There is no excuse for having a Department of Defence at all except in so far as we have an Army.

Once again, I should like to express my great disappointment that we have had no statement of general Army policy. An excuse is made from time to time that it would not be in the public interest for us to disclose State secrets but, when the whole question of Army policy is discussed in Washington, Westminster, Paris, Bonn and everywhere else without anybody feeling that something frightfully secret is being discussed, I do not think we need be so shy about it.

I have never yet heard a statement of general Army policy. First of all, is the Army really a defence force and, if so, what in the name of all that is wonderful is it defending us against or against whom are we being defended? I believe that the thinking is still that, at some period in the future, there may yet be a danger of an airborne or a seaborne invasion.

There is always a tendency amongst military people to fight the last war over again. In this case, I think military thinking appears to be in the context of the last war but one. I may be completely mistaken—I sincerely hope I am—but I am afraid I am not. I am afraid we are still regarding the Army as a sort of defence force against an unknown and unnamed enemy who may come in and try to invade us. I firmly believe we must get this idea right out of our heads.

We have no tactical or strategic importance at all as an island now. We used to have. We were the back door of Great Britain. No invader of Great Britain would ever feel that a foothold on Irish soil was necessary any more because an attack against Great Britain would now be made almost exclusively by intercontinental ballistic missiles. Nobody will suggest that it will be an enormous Russian horde out of a fleet of submarines and landing at Bournemouth or somewhere like that. That sort of thing does not happen any more.

If there is a war, which Heaven forbid, it will be a war in the sky, with unmanned missiles. In that context, what is the point in having an Army at all? I think the Minister to some extent answered the question by starting off his speech by a fairly lengthy reference to United Nations operations. Surely that is the answer—that the basic reason for having an Army in training is that we have certain obligations, by reason of our membership of the United Nations, to provide armed forces for peacekeeping operations overseas? That was something which I forecast long before it happened.

Immediately we were called on to supply officers for observation duties on the north coast of Africa, I warned the Minister that this was only the start and that, very shortly afterwards, we would be asked to supply actual troops for United Nations duties—and nobody paid any attention. As a result, when we were called on for United Nations duties, we were caught on the hop—we were caught without men, without units and without equipment.

Our Army is still organised on entirely the wrong basis. As far as I know—though it is a fairly closelyguarded secret—our Army is organised as infantry brigades and a certain amount of command troops. There, we go back to the last war again and to the last war before that. We still have units like anti-aircraft artillery. If anyone gets involved in hostilities, the sort of anti-aircraft gun we have got is about as useful as a catapult. We did have to send certain Ack-Ack units to the Congo to protect troops in an unusual situation against low-flying aircraft. The guns which we had were of no use even for low-flying comparatively slowspeed aircraft. Our Bofors guns and their control equipment were quite out of date. There may very well be certain United Nations operations, such as that rather isolated incident in the Congo, where ground troops will be subjected to low-level aerial attack but it is very rare and I doubt personally whether it will ever happen again.

We have a lot of money locked up in completely out-of-date anti-aircraft artillery. If we are to go in for some anti-aircraft defence for ground troops, let us do it right. It is no use fooling ourselves that the present methods will give any defence whatsoever. In spite of protests which I and I think others have made in this House and elsewhere, we have not organised the Army to carry out its primary function at present, that is, as a United Nations peacekeeping force. No reason has ever been given to me why we could not do this on a proper businesslike basis.

The present method whereby you take one company from Western Command, one company from Eastern Command, one from Southern Command or from Headquarters or the Curragh, is ludicrous and damnably dangerous because you are sending men on active service—officers, NCOs and men—who do not know each other. Only the fact that the men are so superbly trained has kept casualities down to such a low level. Under active service conditions, you must be well trained yourself but in order to carry out any combined operation, you must know the fellow on your right and on your left and not only know him but know how he will probably react in conditions of danger. You do not get to know that by having a short course of a week, ten days or a fortnight in combined training at the Curragh. You cannot get proper training at the Curragh for riot duties in Cyprus or jungle warfare in the Congo.

What we should have done right from the start is to send out proper, well-constituted units that have been working and training together as a unit for a very considerable period. What we have done is to send out so-called battalions that have only been together for a very short period in the Curragh before they flew out and were hardly together at all while overseas. They did not even come back as a unit but came back in various airlifts and were never seen again as a unit. That is very expensive and most unbusinesslike; it gives the maximum amount of trouble to everybody. We have sent out units which are not units in the proper sense of the word and this means that the battalions and fields companies that are left behind are even more hopelessly under strength than ever before; they are entirely unworkable units. Some battalions and field companies are reduced to half peacetime strength, with the result that there is so much maintenance work and fatigue work that the units crumble away as an effective part of the fighting force.

I was sorry that the Minister made no reference to the recent conference in Canada where a number of countries engaged in United Nations duties came together to discuss the whole question of the provision of troops for the United Nations. That was a very important conference—I hope. The only comments from the military and civil personnel who attended it were so guarded that we were left completely in the dark.

The fact remains that the Scandinavian countries in particular are already making provision in their defence forces for certain units to be formed and kept specially for United Nations duties. That is precisely what we should do. We should have something in the nature of a flying column, if you like, with a force of infantry of, say, 600 or 700 men accompanied by the various other arms and services to make it into a composite unit. That should be formed here ready to move at any time, having been suitably inoculated for overseas service and requiring only transport. Immediately it goes, it should be replaced by another similar unit. I think we should try to work on the basis of three complete United Nations units ready to move at any time. As soon as one goes, the second steps into an immediate stand-to reserve. The third one carries on with ordinary training. As soon as the first unit comes back, it should not be disbanded and thrown around the country in bits and pieces but should be used as a propaganda weapon for recruiting. We have never used United Nations service in its proper context for recruiting purposes.

If other countries can do it, we can do it; it is not a question of saying we can do anything as well as they can; in actual fact, our record in this particular regard shows that we can do this sort of job fifty times better than anybody else and the calls for our services will increase. We could well be asked to supply very many more troops than have been sought so far but the number the Minister reports as having already served overseas is extraordinarily high—the more credit to all those lads who have gone out as volunteers. We should not leave this as a matter of volunteer service; it should be, and is, in fact, now, a matter of the normal terms of enlistment. When you enlist in the Army now, you enlist not only for service at home but also overseas and with the United Nations.

I wish the Minister would look into this again and give me even one reason, if he can, why this should not be done. I have given him plenty of reasons why it should be done. I have discussed this matter with Army officers, ex-officers and civilians and nobody has yet been able to give me any reason why this should not be put into effect immediately.

I should like the Minister specifically to refer to the recent conference in Toronto, Canada, of countries discussing United Nations peacekeeping activities. If he can give us any information on that I am sure he will not be breaking any confidence and the information will be very valuable.

I was sorry to hear the Minister's very guarded and uncertain reference to the question of fishery protection. Like Deputy Tully, I am worried about that and even more worried when I see that two new launches have been provided at a cost of £65,000 for running around Cork Harbour while we cannot spend a bob on getting proper naval craft for fishery protection duties. Let us face it: the Navy is a joke and nothing more.

Hear, hear.

I do not want to be rude about it. It is not the fault of the Navy because it has never been given the tools to do its job. I know the Minister says he cannot do anything because he says he cannot get recruits, but who would want to go to sea in a corvette? It is a filthy ship in a bad sea; it is very ancient. The conditions in which the men are living are quite out of this world. I do not see why anybody should want to join the Navy if all they are going to do is go on one of those corvettes. But it is not that our men do not want to go to sea. The Minister should face the fact that the Irish Lights Commissioners have a long waiting list for men who want to join as crewmen on their ships. That is because those men are properly paid, properly looked after and are given a lot of time on shore. They are allowed to live on shore for a very considerable period. If Irish Lights can get ample recruits for their very large fleet of ships all around the coast, it is only our own fault if we cannot get men to join the Navy.

I have seen descriptions of some of the craft available for fishery protection duties. There is a new type of corvette which, I understand, is on order for some of the navies of the new African States, a new corvette to replace the present one, which would cost about £1½ million. That, to my mind, would be complete and utter waste of money. This sort of fishery protection out to the 12 mile limit against the large fishing trawlers which can continue operating in very heavy seas cannot be done with small launches. What is required is some vessel somewhere between the motor torpedo boat type and the corvette. I understand the Minister has already received specifications of a small fishery protection vessel which is absolutely adequate for the work required, which would cost about £160,000 only. I think £160,000 is not out of this world at all but I am absolutely convinced that if we got the proper ships, properly equipped to do the job they have to do and if we could give the proper pay and conditions, the Minister would get all the recruits he wants and we would get proper fishery protection. At the moment we have to admit that we have none. One corvette is worse than useless. It is only waste of time and money having a thing like that.

I was very glad that helicopters were used on certain occasions but I was terribly disappointed that the Minister should inform everybody that they were no use because they cannot accurately establish the position of a poaching trawler. Why on earth did he have to let that out because, according to a press report, one foreign trawler captain confessed that he did not lose any sleep over the corvettes but was frightened of the helicopters because they came at him so quickly.

If at the present time an Air Corps observer is not able to take proper observations to establish the position of a trawler immediately below him, I would be very surprised. I think he does not know his job. If they need additional equipment, it could not be all that expensive to get it. It should be at least as easy, and, as a layman, I should have thought far easier, to establish the position of a ship from the air as from water level. At least, aircraft could identify a poaching vessel and probably frighten it off, which is what we want to do. It is not only a question of catching them but of getting them out of our territorial waters. I would hope that if we had the proper surface craft, it could work with aircraft and aircraft could identify which trawlers were operating inside the territorial limits, radio to the surface craft, who could, if necessary, chase the trawler, catch it and bring it back. We seem to be only tinkering with the problem at the moment.

A terrible blank in our whole service is the fact that we have no coast watching service whatsoever. That was very forcibly brought home to me only last Saturday week in Dún Laoghaire. Two men went out, in a very foolhardy fashion, in a very small dinghy with outboard motor, in a very bad sea. The boat was upset in Scotsman's Bay and turned turtle. Luckily, some friend of these two men spotted what had happened. That was purely luck. They might have gone out without telling anybody and nobody would ever have known. In fact, one of the men managed to swim in and to bring his companion with him—a magnificent achievement in a very bad sea.

As I stood on the shore there, I was horrified by my own helplessness. Granted, the ambulance had been alerted and was there. Granted, the lifeboat had been alerted and came out as quickly as it could, but that is not the sort of equipment you want for that sort of operation.

What we should have had and what we should get as quickly as possible is a proper coast-watching service, proper coastguards, particularly in bad weather, so that when a small boat gets into difficulties such as this dinghy got into so recently, there would be somebody there to raise the alarm immediately with the lifeboat and also possibly to take immediate action by throwing out a line with one of these rocket guns which can throw a line out to sea a very considerable distance. If any such equipment had been available, we could have got these lads in much quicker. There was great danger that the weaker swimmer might have been drowned. He very nearly was. There was no small boat available. The sea was too rough for such a craft to get out from the shore, even if one had been available. The lifeboat did arrive as quickly as was conceivably possible but it, again, was in difficulty. It had brought its landing boat with it, a small skiff, behind it, but it would have been in tremendous difficulty operating very close to a rocky shore. A proper coast-watching and coast lifesaving service would be equipped with lines which could be fired out to sea to help people in that sort of situation.

I was reading of the Lifeboat Institution only last week and it seems to me a terrible reflection on us that the secretary of the Institution in Dún Laoghaire had to say to the members of the public who were present: "Will you please remember to keep an eye out to sea and if you see anything that looks at all dangerous, let us know?" We should not be relying on isolated members of the public looking out to sea at the right moment. There should be a regular service of coast watchers at all times during bad weather.

Helicopters have done jolly well so far. It is a great source of satisfaction to those of us who have been advocating their use for a long time.

The Minister referred to the lack of technicians, the wastage of technicians. It is no use just bewailing the fact that men who are trained in the Army apprentice school tend to go off into civilian employment later on. There are only two reasons why they do that. They join the Army to get the qualifications. They go off into civilian employment because (a) the pay is very much better and (b) the conditions of employment are very much better. Nobody wishes to submit himself to Army discipline, to the obligation of wearing a uniform and doing all sorts of other duties if he can possibly avoid it. People would much prefer the regular five-day week, with a working day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. with Saturdays and Sundays off as a matter of right. That is what everybody would like to have.

If a man qualified as an aircraft technician finds he can get at the Airport far better pay, far better conditions, a civilian job all the time, why would he not take it? There is only one answer, that is, to make the pay and conditions of service for the technicians and for practically all Army personnel at least comparable with those in civilian life. That is not being done. So, what we are doing is—a good job, I suppose, so far as the national interest is concerned— training good technicians but at the cost of the Army and the Army is getting no advantage out of it. Not only are we losing technicians but we are losing men out of the Army and we are failing to get them into it. There is no proper recruiting publicity. Very slight efforts have been made from time to time. Last year we were told that publicity had been abandoned in favour of a system whereby serving soldiers got £5 for each new recruit they could bring in. That to me is a nauseating suggestion and singularly ineffective.

The Army must study publicity as a commercial enterprise would do. One sees the sort of advertisements that Aer Lingus are putting in the Irish papers, as well as the full technicolor advertisements in the Sunday papers in England. That is the way to get a message over, by highly qualified technical experts advising you on public relations. The public relations department of the Army is and always has been non-existent. They have not an idea in the world; they sit there wringing their hands and saying: "We cannot get recruits". There is no incentive offered to anybody to join the Army.

There are plenty of incentives that could be offered. It is a good life but nobody ever tells the public about it at all. The Army is kept as a secret weapon behind locked doors. It is never brought out in public. No reference is made to the fact that Army enlistment now entails acceptance of overseas service under the United Nations. That is an exciting prospect for any man, to know that he will almost certainly be involved in a really worthwhile, man-size job overseas for which, incidentally, he will be extremely well paid. The risks are there all the time but they are risks which any young man would be perfectly prepared to take.

The Minister and the Department will never tell me why there is no reference to United Nations duties in connection with Army recruiting. As I said before, even the troops going overseas and coming back are never shown to the public. We go through this business of a farewell and send-off parade at the Curragh. It is so much a matter of routine. They are inspected by the Taoiseach or the Minister. Those who have been out before probably know the speeches by heart by now.

What we should do is send those lads marching through our cities either before they go or when they come back so that we can take proper pride in those first-rate United Nations men who are doing such a magnificent job. We do not make any effort to get that idea across and I do ask the Minister, even at this late stage, to give it a crack now. I believe it would have a tremendous effect on recruiting. We would get men who would turn into good soldiers and enable us to carry out our United Nations obligations far better than we have been able to do before, and that is saying a lot.

Apart from the Regular Army, I have been asked only last night by an officer of the Army Reserve, do the Government take the Army Reserve seriously at all or would they be happier if we were all dead and buried? I do not think the Army Reserve is taken seriously as it should be. I think the most important thing about the Army Reserve is the Reserve of Officers and that is not simply because I was an officer myself but because it takes much longer to train an officer than it does to train a soldier. In a moment of danger, what is wanted most of all is a good body of Reserve officers who can step into the breach and start not only commanding but training troops as they are mobilised.

The conditions offered to the officers of the Reserve are literally scandalous. For years and years there was no promotion and we had a Reserve of Officers with the oldest lieutenants in the world. No country had such ancient lieutenants as we had. At last there was some effort to promote some of these lieutenants to captain but the situation remains that the rate fixed in 1926 as the retainer if you like, that is over and above the pay for the period he is in training, £30 per annum for a lieutenant, £50 for a captain and £75 for a commandant, is precisely the same rate in this year of grace. One cannot say that grants of £30, £50 and £75 payable in 1926 should not have been at least doubled by now. The very least that should be done is to have those grants increased immediately by over £100 per annum each. To expect a man to remain in the Reserve of Officers for £1 or so a day while he is in training and a grant of £30 or £50 just before Christmas is very poor encouragement, to put it mildly.

I know the Minister is favourably inclined towards us and I would ask him not to waste any more time but to increase these grants at once. The Minister has received deputations about this. He has agreed that it is most reasonable; he will look into it; it is under active consideration and something is going to be done. But nothing ever is done and that has gone on for years with the Minister and his predecessor. This must be done now or the Minister has got to say on behalf of the Government: "We do not give a damn about the Reserve of Officers. They can go and bury themselves and we will save a lot of money as soon as they do it." They are far too fine a body of men to be treated in this way, so I would ask the Minister, as a matter of urgency and as a matter of justice, to increase these grants by £100 per annum. Of course, the immediate reaction then would be: how are we to get the money? On the estimated strength of the 500 officers of the Reserve of Officers set out in the Estimate, it would cost at the most about £50,000. We can keep that in mind and see where we can save on that later on.

There is another source of grievance in the Reserve of Officers. The FCA officers who have nothing like the training which the Reserve officers have had or the experience of long periods of service with the Regular Army, are being promoted much more rapidly and much more regularly than the Reserve officers. There are quite a number of commandants now in the FCA who have been in the FCA for only a few years, whereas very many of the captains in the Reserve of Officers have been captains for 20 or 30 years at least.

There is no reason whatever why there should not be further promotions in the Reserve of Officers, or why some of these ageing captains, who are still perfectly fit and well able to do the work, should not be promoted commandant. I do not want to suggest that all captains should be made commandants. Never having got to the rank of commandant myself, I have a certain disrespect for it, but at the same time by a process of selection, it is only right that captains who are worthy of the rank should be promoted commandants and given the same hope of promotion as officers in the FCA.

As far as the NCOs and men in the First Line Reserve are concerned, we know that the numbers are falling steadily. A high proportion are not expected to return for training. What is the point? Are we codding ourselves here again? I think we are. We turn to the FCA. I agree completely with Deputy Tully that the strength of the FCA is very largely illusory. I would agree with him, too, that there are some very dedicated men, officers, NCOs and men. A large proportion of the FCA personnel are between the ages of 16 and 19 years. They cannot get in before 16; they will not stay on after 19. You could make the age group even smaller because the actual turnover is far too quick. They go in, they come out, and we are not building up a body of well-trained reservists. There is far too high a turnover.

When the Estimate sets out clearly that a high percentage of the total strength is not expected to turn up for training, then I say it is about time we chucked it. The FCA units are trained entirely separately from the regular units. They are a class apart. They do not mix. I understand the position is that the FCA commandants are referred to by the Army personnel as just "commandant" not "sir"—that a Regular Army captain or Reserve captain would no more think of saluting an FCA commandant than he would of saluting a private soldier. There is contempt for these senior ranks in the FCA by the Regular Army and that is a tragedy.

If a man is a commissioned officer of the Forces, whether FCA or Regular, he should be given proper respect for his rank, but if there is this feeling— and I believe there is—that men holding that rank are not really worthy of it, that they are holding a rank far higher than Regular or Reserve officers who are far better qualified, it is a situation that can cause a great deal of trouble. I believe the only real Reserve should be a small one which could be organised as small components of each Regular unit. For instance, an Army battalion could have, say, one platoon. It would mean there would be a chance that the infantry battalion could be brought up to war establishment during training simply by the calling up of its own reserves. It would also have the advantage that the reservists, when reporting for training, would not be trained with other reservists but side by side with regular soldiers.

It would end the necessity to keep up separate establishment as at the moment. There would be no extra expense because the one company quartermaster sergeant would still look after the stores and equipment and the stores and equipment of the reserve platoon as well. At the moment you have a number of very good NCOs— company sergeants, company quartermaster sergeants and even corporals— engaged in nothing else but FCA duties which are entirely unproductive.

References have been made to the uniform. I admit it is a bit better and I am deeply grateful, as are the men, that at last it has got a proper open-necked tunic. The old tunic was most unhygienic, as well as being uncomfortable. However, the cut of the uniform is abominable. It is years out of date and the material is far from ideal. But the cut is all wrong. First of all, the tunic never fits. The men go out into the city looking all right down to the waist, but from the waist down the uniform is a mess. It should never have been designed for use with a leather belt around the waist. It is a waste of time. It looks dirty half the time because the men do not bother to clean it. In an effort to make the tunic look as if it fits, the belt is worn too tight, the tunic is distorted, the pockets and skirt of the tunic stick out all round like a kilt.

What we want is a design and there is no earthly reason why we should not have it if only the Minister and his officials would look for it. They are under the impression that what has been good enough for many years is good enough for a few years longer. It is not good enough; it never was good enough. It looks cheap; it is cheap. It is an insult to anybody to ask him to wear it. It is not quite as bad as its predecessor but it is still far from being right.

Our men have still got no proper battledress. The Army boots are very good for long route marches, but long route marches have gone: everything is being done now by mechanical transport and the amount of route marching done is negligible. Our men need proper campaign boots, more suitable for climbing, for cross-country work, than these enormous canal barges we have at the moment, so heavily studded and so on. They are very good for knocking down doors, for bashing your way through things. Our Army need proper modern battle-dress. We can notice that our lads going overseas are far better equipped, far more ready for the job. Of course we could make them far more ready still, and I would ask the Minister to abandon all concepts of uniform he has had heretofore and ask an expert to design a proper one. I would also ask the Minister to provide for proper uniform material. I do not believe we could do better than base our uniform on the British Army uniform or the American Army uniform. We make first-rate British uniforms here. If we can do that, surely we can do it for ourselves. But this is a cut-price outfit and it is about time it stopped being that. If we are prepared to pay, our mills are able to produce first-quality material for first-rate uniforms. The reason we have not got a first-rate uniform is, I think, that somebody has been quite unnecessarily stingy.

We need more expenditure on a number of things. We need new expenditure on fishery protection vessels and on aircraft. We need more helicopters. Three is a good start, but it is not nearly enough. We also need new jet trainer aircraft. The jets we have are neither one thing nor the other; they are neither proper trainers nor proper fighters. It would be completely ludicrous to try to keep up with the supersonic jet fighters, but we should have proper machines as jet trainers. Piston-engined aircraft are completely out of date and, apart from the helicopters, we can forget about them. We should have an airport equipped with jet trainers. I suppose there might be a few observer aircraft or small transport planes like the de Havilland Dove. Our main concern, however, is with good jet trainers and good helicopters.

Again, on the question of expenditure, we need very much higher grants for Reserve officers and higher pay for technicians. We need better quality and better design in uniforms, including the uniform of the Army Nursing Service. You do not often see the Army Nursing Service on parade but, if you did see the uniform, you would not wonder why they do not come out in it more often. It is really a disgrace.

Now, if we are to buy more aircraft and more new vessels, these would have to be financed as special items; but, so far as better grants for Reserve officers are concerned, more promotion for them, better pay and conditions for technicians, and better pay for all ranks, all these could be dealt with immediately out of the customary surplus which is surrendered each year out of this Vote. It is no use saying we have not got the money. In 1962-63, the Minister handed back a surplus of £753,000. A sum of £753,000 was voted to him by this House for expenditure on the Army and he did not spend it. He gave back this huge surplus. In 1963-64 he handed back £823,000. Now, apart from new aircraft and new vessels, such things as improving conditions, uniforms, annual training grants, and so on, would be covered many times over by this surplus alone, and that without any savings whatsoever. I feel, as I have always felt, that there could be a tremendous saving on this Estimate. There is an enormous amount of very wasteful expenditure. Perhaps we could not save it all but, if we saved it on certain items, we could spend it to much greater advantage on others.

As far as the FCA is concerned, I think we should face up to the position as to whether or not this should be entirely reformed as an integrated Reserve, completely integrated with the Regular Army, at about half its present nominal strength. That would be some 10,000 men. That is one suggestion. Alternatively, we could abolish it altogether. The Minister's predecessor tried to do a fair amount of work from the point of view of integrating the FCA and the Reserve generally into the Regular Army. He tried, but, with all due respects to him, he did not succeed. The Reserve is still a separate, independent outfit on its own. It is not integrated into the Regular Army.

At present the cost of uniforms for the FCA is as high as for the Regular Army. We spend, or are estimated to be about to spend, £200,000 per annum on uniforms for the FCA. That is partly because of the numbers involved and partly because, as I said before, there is far too quick a turnover. Men come in for six months, or a year, and then get out. The uniforms are scrapped. So are the boots. The new men who come in get new outfits. Even if we reduced the strength of the FCA by integrating it into a much tighter Reserve, a better controlled Reserve which would actually turn up with its regular unit for training, reducing it from 20,000 to 10,000, that would mean we could reduce the clothing bill by £100,000 for a start. Again, if it were at half strength, we would save £150,000 in pay alone of FCA personnel. If we integrated it completely with regular units, we would save the cost of hiring halls, etc., which is estimated to cost £15,000 per annum. Personally, I think we should abolish it altogether. I cannot see that it is serving any useful purpose. As far as I know, it has been a deep disappointment to the many officers and NCO's who have done their best for it. It simply has not produced the desired result. Those who have dedicated themselves to it would, I think, be willing to join a new Reserve closely integrated with the Regular Army.

We could also save a great deal of money by having smaller vessels. The cost of upkeep of corvettes is far too high. The cost of upkeep of small vessels reduces very rapidly. We could save a great deal of money, too, on the buildings occupied at present by the Army. We could sell many of the old barracks. We still have Griffith Barracks, which is partly FCA, partly an emergency housing unit for displaced Corporation tenants, and partly Labour Court. It would be far better to get rid of it altogether and give it to the Corporation. A proper building could be erected elsewhere for the Labour Court. To have evicted tenants, the Labour Court and the FCA all mixing in the one building seems to me far from ideal, to put it mildly.

These old buildings are most uneconomic to maintain. They are brutal to live in. They are dark; they are damp; they are cold. They have nothing to commend them. The sooner they are got rid of the better. All the time they have to be heated, cleaned, painted; roofs have to be repaired; plumbing has to be repaired; electric wiring has to be replaced. Money is being poured down the drain. The sooner we get rid of them the better. I cannot see any necessity for having Cathal Brugha Barracks, Collins Barracks, and McKee Barracks. There is bound to be some economy possible there. Clancy Barracks is used as a store, and it is one of the nicest and most modern. Large blocks of buildings are also being maintained in the Curragh, but they are not used.

We could save money by reviewing the whole set-up of the Naval Service. Here, you have quite a number of men with quite a big shore establishment, a big administration and everything else, all looking after one corvette, which occasionally puts to sea. The situation has got so completely out of balance that I think our Naval Service could gain, and would gain, if no corvette existed at all. The purpose of having a naval service is to have an outfit to do the job required. Our Naval Service is not doing that. It is about time some decision was taken.

Reference has been made to civil defence. Here, again, I would like to repeat a request to the Minister to re-organise this entirely. Nobody except a few dedicated and well-informed people seriously believe that we are in danger of aerial attack with atomic weapons or that we are in danger of radiation from the explosion of nuclear weapons. I know it is foolish that we do not believe it, but we just do not. I do not think civil defence means anything to anybody. If this were an emergency rescue service, fully coordinated with the Garda Síochána, the fire brigade and a newly-constituted coastguard service, lifeboat service and helicopter service, it would begin to make sense. The only jobs they have done, and done very well, are such things as emergency rescues in the mountains, emergency cooking facilities in cases of flooding, and so on. Those are the jobs they should do. That has nothing to do with civil defence; it is emergency rescue work, which is vitally necessary. If it were reconstituted on that basis and less time spent on arguing about radiation dangers and more time spent on existing activities such as training for rock climbing, mountain rescue, air-sea rescue——

Or Croagh Patrick on the day of the pilgrimage.

Exactly. In any sort of emergency, the emergency rescue service would then be there to deal with casualties. There is no use trying to persuade the public, no matter how much the Minister and the Department may try to do so, that we are in any danger from radiation from the explosion of nuclear weapons. The public will not believe it.

I have another bee in my bonnet about one part of the Army service, that is, the Legal Service. I am not at all satisfied, and never was, with the legal procedure in the Army. It is completely out of date but, worst of all, there is no right of appeal from a courtmartial. This is a matter where, in full consultation with the legal profession generally, there should be a comprehensive review and reform of Army legal procedure. There have been some improvements, but I do not think they have gone far enough. There should be a formal right of appeal from a courtmartial verdict or sentence.

I cannot see any justification whatever for the maintenance of the office of Judge Advocate General. The Judge Advocate General is a civilian barrister, a well-qualified man, who is merely a rubber stamp. He gets very well paid, and nobody pays any attention to him. I know that because I have seen it happen. I have conducted courtmartial proceedings myself. I have had to produce the complete record and send it from the Divisional Staff I was on up to GHQ. It was passed by the Deputy Judge Advocate General and passed on to the Judge Advocate General, and I never saw a constructive comment from a Judge Advocate General in my life. Granted my experience is short, but I have never heard of the Judge Advocate General upsetting a decision or making any comment which was of any value. The only real reason for having him was that it was some form of guarantee against some miscarriage of justice in a courtmartial. I do not think it has been that. I think a right of appeal to the High Court would give far better protection to serving men and would make sense to them. It would also save money. I have nothing personal in this. Let us get rid of the Judge Advocate General and make the senior officer of the Army Legal Service the Director of the Service the same as the Director of any other Army Corps or Service.

I have the greatest respect for the Army. I would like to give it the maximum support. They have done a terrific job in the Congo and an equally good job in Cyprus and will continue to do that. But it still is a cut-price outfit. The Army have never been given the better equipment, better uniforms—all the conditions to enable them to do the job properly. One of the greatest weaknesses in it was referred to by Deputy Tully, and I thoroughly support him on this. There is not a proper service to deal with the re-employment of ex-servicemen when they go back to civilian life. It is very difficult for NCOs and men to get a job when they come out at the age of 50 or so. I also feel Deputy Tully was right when he said that gratuities for NCOs and men are essential. The pension is very small, and the least we can do is give them some sort of gratuity to give them a start in civilian life. The amount of savings we can make on this Estimate is more than adequate to account for all the expenditure I have advocated. I think if we did cut out an awful lot, we would get far better value for money.

I have one last point. During the terms which our troops served in the Congo and Cyprus, there was only one recognised case where an officer, NCO or man carried out some act of gailantry beyond the call of duty. That is an insult to the Army. I do not believe it. I think our troops have done magnificently, but there is some block somewhere. The only awarded medal was a posthumous one. Every other unit that goes on overseas duty like this, or is involved in any sort of activity like our troops have been, has given proper recognition to acts of gallantry carried out by their own men. I am not in favour of having rows and rows of medals for everyone, but I know, and we all know, of officers, NCOs and men who have gone far beyond the call of duty time and again; and for a gang of hidebound, chair-borne officers in GHQ to say to the Minister: "We do not consider anybody has been specially brave" is an insult which, I think, should be stuffed down their necks. It is time they got out of their chairs, got out to Cyprus or the Congo and saw what active service was like.

I asked the Minister what sort of officers comprised the board which advised him and how many have had active service, and he refused to say. I can only assume—I think, absolutely rightly—that the officers who are advising him are entirely chair-borne warriors. If a proper procedure were adopted, a particular commander should be entitled to make immediate awards to his own troops for actions of gallantry carried out under his command.

I should like to close on that note. It is something which, I think, is of tremendous value. We do not want medals dished out, broadcast, nor do we want anybody to say our troops have served in the Congo and that there was only one brave man amongst them, whereas other troops had a higher proportion. Our proportion is as high as, or higher than, any other and it is long overdue that some recognition should be given to them. The cost of each medal would be 8d. and I do not think that is too much.

Usually a mere handful of Deputies take part in the discussion on the Defence Estimate and these are generally the same Deputies. They are usually former Army officers or old IRA men. This is a special Department of which one must have some knowledge in order to be able to deal with it at any length. I usually refer to matters affecting the old IRA, as Deputy Booth has just done, when speaking on Defence policy. I happen to be President of the Old Fianna and, naturally, I am expected to speak for the old IRA.

I have expressed my opinions here before in regard to defence. I am no expert but I do claim to have a good knowledge of history. I was not an Army officer, although I have old IRA experience. I have such a sound knowledge of history that my children often ask me why I do not go on Telefís Éireann as I am always able to answer nine out of ten of the history questions asked.

I fail to see the purpose of the Army, except that it is a symbol of our independence and a symbol of our right to have a force. Personally, I do not see how, as a force, we could ever defend the country in any conventional manner. We are not an African state having all around us states of lesser power than ourselves. We are surrounded by empires, Britain, France, Germany and possibly, Russia if she took over Europe. So we have to contend with empires in the event of any invasion of this country, and not just someone on the left or right of us. Whatever we have, they have one hundred thousand times more so I do not see how we could ever put up a conventional defence. I always hold our Army is more a symbol of our right to have an Army than a means of defence. If anyone attempted to invade this country—and I do not think it would come from Britain but it could come from some other country invading Britain—they would put anything we have out of operation in 20 minutes.

We all know from reading reports by the American Defence Secretary that this great power has war strategy and military matters under its thumb and has press-button targets everywhere. Likewise, if anyone were to come in here, they know where their targets are situated—they know where the Curragh is, and they would make short work of it in 20 minutes. Any defence we could put up would be a sort of guerrilla defence. In spite of all civil defence efforts, and so on, everything would collapse overnight and we would be back where we were in 1918.

I always ask myself what sort of retaliatory effort could we make. What can we do if someone invades our country? What would our follow-up be? The sort of defence I think about is guerrilla action. The few planes and the few ships we have do not serve any purpose. The ships protect our fishing, perhaps, and that is all. Why should we not have midget submarines? That may seem to be a gimmick on my part. But if we have such things as artillery, why not have it by way of submarines? If there were a sudden attack and the country were invaded, there could be attack by way of sinking ships and doing as much damage in one effort as the whole country could otherwise do in a combined effort. We know the Italians made use of midget submarines and sank capital ships and aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean.

My point is, if we have a Department of Defence and can help the United Nations, we ought to be in a position to make it tougher than tough for anyone invading this country and have something with which to attack people coming in here. I hold any invasion from the air will be only a light invasion with which we might be able to deal. But the proper invasion would come by sea. What will we do about ships coming with guns and weapons? Will we not make it tough for them? I am sure midget submarines would cost less than aeroplanes and they would be more effective as a weapon of defence. I make this case because I feel we ought to have some means of counter-attack and a way of making an invasion tougher than tough.

There is another point I have in mind and I have mentioned it before, that is, that the Army should be equipped with steel breastplates. Do not think I am going back to Roman times. A few weeks ago I was watching a picture of riot police in action in Japan. They used shields, just as they did in the jungle two thousand years ago. This equipment enabled the riot police to deal with considerably more rioters than any force could, either here or in Britain. They were able to stand up to blows from stones and bottles and I have seen a picture of a dozen police putting thousands to flight. These shields act as a protection, and, if they serve that purpose, on the same principle soldiers attacking armoured cars and tanks feel protected. Likewise, if our methods of defence are modern, we should be tougher than tough, tougher than we are. We should have our armour plate.

I am not suggesting anything cumbersome as it beats me, on visiting a museum, to understand how people fought in the past. A small plate on the chest could save fifty per cent of the lives lost. We hear of gangsters using them, and they are not using them for fun. Do not think I am going back to mediaeval days. I am making a practical suggestion and suggesting that they would save half the lives lost. If our men in the Congo were wearing such protection, how many of them would have been saved at the Niemba ambush?

I should like to refer to that with which I am more concerned. We come in here to debate large estimates for guns, tanks, and so on, and it is our duty to make comment.

In regard to our efforts on behalf of the United Nations, we are, in my opinion, in much greater danger in Cyprus than we were in the Congo. In the Congo we had to deal only with poorly armed and uncivilised people but in Cyprus we are dealing with two powers, Greece and Turkey, and there is grave danger there because the question has not been settled. In my opinion, it will be settled either by partition or by force. When people talk about partition—I do not want to enter into a Department of External Affairs debate—they think of this country but there is no similarity. Cyprus was never independent. It is right up along the coast of Turkey, not 100 miles away, but it is 600 miles from Greece and 400 miles from Crete. I do not believe that the Turk will ever back out of Cyprus because Cyprus could be a dagger at Turkey's throat and they know it. The Greeks may not want to back out for prestige purposes. Overnight, force could be resorted to and it would not be the same type of force as was experienced in the Congo but force of a devastating kind. If such a thing occurs, I hope the Department have some way of taking out our troops overnight. It might not be possible to depend on the Americans to take them out as there might be no place for planes to land, but the Department should have some plan for removing the troops to some neutral area.

Because I represent the Old IRA, I always speak on the question of pensions. I am one of the few who represent the Old IRA and it is always those of the Old IRA who speak about it and that is understandable. It is because we were part of it and we feel it. Someone has to put any grievances they have to the House. I always hold that a great many Old IRA got a raw deal. For example, in regard to pensions, the Civil War was recognised as service where an officer commanded a certain number of men in the Tan War; he did not have to fire a shot but as long as he commanded so many men, that was recognised as service. In that case he got the Civil War service and likewise if a man fired a shot —one shot—in the Tan War, he got the Tan War as service and also got the Civil War as service. Either the Civil War was service or it was not. We know there was a difference between us. We will forget about that. Men destroyed one another, or injured one another or ruined one another financially, especially on one side. It is to be regretted but it happened. It is a question of justice. To the men who took the Republican side, it was the same struggle; perhaps it was not but to them it was. We have all agreed not to question what went on.

In regard to the pensions, there were doubts about who served in the Tan War but did not fire a shot, probably because it was up to their officers who had not the courage to do so. There may be no laurels in a civil war but if there was no justification for awards in the Civil War, why do certain people get them and others do not? I know a lot of men who suffered a thousand times more in the Civil War than in the Tan War. The Tan War was a picnic compared with what certain people suffered in the Civil War.

Another thorny question is the question of medals. Some years ago the Department decided that any medals issued before a certain date were not duly awarded and that only medals awarded after that date were duly awarded. There is now a doubt about the medals that some people have and that doubt will remain until they apply for a special allowance and until the question is re-examined. The Old IRA object to this doubt. Yesterday Deputy MacEoin said that it would be much better to accept everybody, even if there were some abuse, rather than do greater harm, by doing an injustice through lack of evidence to genuine cases later on.

It is ridiculous that these cases should not be re-examined until people are 70 years old, or until they become invalids when they will qualify for a special allowance. I was in the Fianna and I am only 60, but assuming for argument's sake that I apply ten years hence, who would be alive then to verify my case? There would be no one; yet I am one of the youngest. There are thousands of such cases. The Minister should decide to accept everybody with a medal as a bona fide case for a special allowance and should hear him now. He should re-examine them now and issue a certificate to all he considers were duly awarded a medal. By taking no action and by waiting for people to apply, he will more than likely do a greater injustice to people who may apply in five or six years' time.

To my knowledge, there is only one man who could verify my case but when he dies, what will be the position? I might say that I am wellknown, and that I am a TD and that I will be all right, but what about all the other people, the rank and file who are not known and who will try to make their case on their own? I am making the case that if they are not going to be recognised for special allowances, the Minister should make up his mind to have all cases re-examined so that there will be no question of a further inquiry with regard to special allowances.

There was some reference to a new Act to consolidate all military pensions legislation. It is high time that this was done because it is most difficult having to look through all the various Acts if one wishes to refer to a particular provision. One sees something in one Act and it refers to some other Act, which, in turn refers to some further Act. One has to be a lawyer to know what is what. It is good to know that all military pension legislation may be consolidated and brought up to date.

There was also mention by the Minister that there will be some changes. I hope so and I hope, in view of the special period next year is, the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Rising, that once and for all justice will be done. Next year will be the one last great rally and if everything is not finalised and justice is not done by then it will never be done. There are certain cases, I am not going to go into personally here, where there was a raw deal. The Minister's excuse in relation to them, was that because of a statute he could do nothing about it. He is a man who can change statutes. Now that he is talking about bringing in a new Act he can make those changes. Let us hope the Minister's new Act will be the last one and that there will be no further grounds for complaint. When people start meeting for next year I hope they will have no cause for complaint.

I have often heard of armies being destroyed by enemy action and of navies being destroyed by enemy action and by storm but here we have an Army being run down by the Department of Defence. We also have a Navy that is practically ready to sink at its moorings through the same Department. The Minister mentioned the service rendered by Irish soldiers in the Congo and in Cyprus. For the Army it was just providential that this duty arose because up to then there was not an Irish battalion that was completely equipped with fully automatic weapons. It took the Congo emergency, or whatever we may call it, to bring about a state of affairs where the men sent there were armed with modern weapons. These weapons had to be bought in a hurry.

These men did their duty well. We were able to follow events in the Congo during the civil war, or whatever you like to call it. Perhaps, it would have been as well if we had not been able to do so. We gained experience from that operation. We have reached the position in Cyprus where our troops are standing between two contending parties. Our officers and men there are worthy of the greatest admiration. They deserve the congratulations of the people of this country. Soldiers are soldiers, I suppose, all over the world. You might have somebody break through the lines or through the rules and something might happen. It is greatly to the credit of our troops in Cyprus that nothing like that, which often happens with expeditionary forces, has happened there.

With regard to recruiting for the Army the Department have failed in this matter, particularly in regard to publicity. A great deal of it is in the Irish language and a great number of potential recruits are not able to read the advertisements. As well as that, people down the country never see the Army as an army. They never see ceremonial parades and they seldom hear our great Army bands. They only hear them on very rare occasions. Deputy Booth mentioned this matter.

I should like to take this matter a step further. We have these very fine parades when the men are going to the Congo. They take place in the Curragh inside the barrack square. We have a review of troops by the Taoiseach which the Minister for Defence also attends. The troops are then put into trucks and brought to Collinstown airport. That is the end of it. When they come back, triumphantly, they arrive at the airport, are pushed into trucks and brought to the barracks again. There ought to be a little more ceremony when the men come home. There ought to be a march to some barracks. Surely an Army which is coming home should not be pushed into trucks but should march. What with modern fighting techniques and mechanisation, the soldier of the future will not be able to march any distance. If his transport breaks down it looks to me as if he will have had it.

There are centres all over the country which were used only during the emergency. The barracks are manned by a small skeleton staff in case of an emergency. The Department of Defence should consider sending detachments of troops to these such places. They should parade to Church on Sunday morning and back again. The people would then be able to see them. Any time I saw soldiers parading I was always very proud of them. I saw the great military tattoo during the war years at Ballsbridge. That was produced as well as any professional army in the world could produce it. We can do this but we hide the men.

There are special occasions in relation to the opening of the Dáil—I do not mean after a general election—such as we had a few weeks ago when the House resumed after the Christmas recess. On that day there ought to be a ceremonial mounting of the guard with the No. 1 Army Band in attendance. It is a great thing that the Irish people have their own Parliament but we just forget it. We are drifting away from everything.

A good fellow like Deputy O'Malley would get all the parades then.

I would give him credit for this. If he had anything to do with it he would do it. We had the great State funeral on Monday last. It showed what the Army was capable of. It was a great tribute to a very fine lonely man and it was due to him from this country. On the occasion of a State funeral it is good to employ modern equipment and everything else but such a ceremony should be based on tradition. We are supposed to be mad about horses in this country. It is a legend that has built up but I suppose not half per cent of the population ever sat on a horse. We try to perpetuate this legend of the Irishman who is mad about horses. Everybody has a horse in his backyard according to reports in some of the newspapers. The gun carriage, on the occasion of last Monday's State funeral should have been drawn by horses who would go proudly through the streets of Dublin with officers marching on each side as pall bearers. These are the things which the Department of Defence are cutting away all the time. It would be impossible for us to produce a company of mounted Irish cavalry men. The three types of mounted soldiers embrace chargers, troopers, and gunners. We have an Army Equitation School and these people know their business where horses are concerned. They would be in a position to advise the Minister on the matter of bringing some horses into the Army for ceremonial purposes.

The reason the jumping team is not doing so well is that there are not enough horses bought for them. In the years when they did very well we had two or three good horses and they toured all Europe and then were hauled back to London and hauled back home to compete in our own great Horse Show in August. A matter that has been pressed on every Estimate is that there should be more horses. You will often buy a horse that is a failure but if such a horse is bought for the Army they are stuck with it and they will not be allowed to buy another one.

Before I ever came in here, I heard complaints about two horses that were bought for the Army by a foreigner but even though one of these was a wind-sucker and could be heard at the top of the stands he never hit a fence and we won the Aga Khan Cup. You cannot keep your strength of jumpers down to a small number and the Army Equitation School authorities must have power to buy a greater number of horses. Our jumping team is a great promotional idea and we can look back with pride to the days when they went abroad with good horses and were able to compete with former empires and great and wealthy nations and beat them. That is a great advertisement for the Irish horse and for Ireland.

There should be an extra allowance for officers of the jumping team to enable them to purchase boots and breeches. A good pair of hunting boots such as an officer would wear at an international horse show cost from £15 to £20 before the war and they are costing an enormous sum now. The pay and allowances in the Irish Army are not that great and the officer serving at home is not wearing his boots and breeches as often as the man who is training horses and competing at shows. They should be turned out better than the soldiers who come here from other countries. I have seen our men well turned out but when one sees them in contrast with Japanese, French, Belgian, American or British officers one realises that the latter have been turned out for their job down to the last button. These men are our best trade representatives abroad and I consider that they should be turned out better than any other nation in the world.

Deputy Booth reminded me that the Bofors guns are out of date. They look well during parades but that is about all they are good for. My information is that if it were not for the Congo and Cyprus operations our soldiers would still be parading with the old Lee Enfield rifles. My information also is that except for the units that are now abroad and the unit that was at the funeral the rest of the Army cannot be armed with modern weapons because they are not there.

The matter of uniforms has to do with recruiting as well. Our young men are becoming quite finicky about dress. I am not talking now about teddy boys but about the ordinary boys in the country and the smaller towns. They are not going to appear in the get-up offered to them as uniform by the Department of Defence. In other years Dublin had the reputation of having great military tailors. They made uniforms for other countries and are still doing it. I suggest that the tailoring trade in Ireland should be invited to submit designs for uniforms and that a board to examine these designs should be set up, a board consisting of members of the General Staff but not of them alone. There should be other people in on that examination, even members of this House who have had Army service, so that we would have a proper uniform for our young soldiers. That would help recruiting.

There is awful boredom in the Army. That is my understanding of the situation from meeting young men in the Army. You have to talk to them for a long time to convince them that there is a future in it. There is so little to do in the Army that it grinds them down. If there were more ceremonial and church parades and if the Army were sent down to centres in the country where there are unoccupied barracks it would do some good. The people should be let see the Army and see the turn-out. They could bring the best of their athletes and have them compete with the local foot-ballers, hurlers or soccer players.

I come now to the Irish Navy. We have three corvettes, three dreadful craft. They have very bad quarters for their crews in a heavy sea. We can only have one of them at sea at a time and the Minister admits that we only have sufficient seamen to man one of these three ships. I suspect that two of the three cannot be started up at all. I submit to the Minister that he must now bravely do what they had to do with the three famous fishing boats they bought: they will have to sell them, and the sooner the better. The decision must be made eventually; why not now? I do not know whether the Minister or his officials were interested but I told him some time ago that an American type of coastguard cutter was sent to Ireland and visited many of the ports so that the people could see it. The manufacturers of this craft were trying to interest the National Lifeboat Institute in using these boats as lifeboats. These boats are preventive craft and can be mounted with a very effective pom-pom gun and manned by a small crew.

A defender of the Department of Defence said these would be no use in arresting one of the big trawlers because you would be required to put a boarding party on board. I dispute that: you do not need that. If one of these boats found a large foreign trawler fishing within our limits, it could challenge the trawler and if he did not stop, it could fire a shot across his bows and if he then did not stop it could sink him. If the small boat got within hailing distance he could order the trawler into the nearest port, escort him there and arrest him there.

This is a matter of the greatest urgency. The greatest herring fishery in the country, and one of the great herring fisheries of West Europe, lies off the south-east coast of Ireland and thanks to the neglect of the Department, that fishery has been pillaged and ravaged by enormous continental fleets. The Irish Navy could do nothing to prevent it because they have only one ship and if they actually made an arrest and brought the trawler into Cork or Waterford Harbour, all the other trawlers outside would then come in and fish right up to the rocks.

I should like to point out that the average Deputy thinks of a foreign trawler as a craft of 80 or 90 feet long with one funnel. That dates back ten or 12 years ago. The ships I have seen through my glasses fishing off the east coast are up to the size of small steamers, with crews of 40, 50, 60 and 90 men. They are factory ships also and are able to catch more of our fish in a day than some of our muchvaunted fishing villages catch in a year. They are using a type of net no decent fisherman would use because it will catch and scratch up everything that is in the sea out of it. I said this before and I repeat it because one must continue saying these things to the Minister—nothing but water can get through this net.

It took various Deputies from both sides of the House about five years to sell the idea of helicopters to the Department of Defence. It should not have taken so long. But for the decency of the British Navy who launched an aircraft carrier into the Bristol Channel and got a helicopter to take off to save the men off the south coast of Wexford, these men would have been drowned because they could not be taken off by the lifeboat. We were helpless at the time because we had no helicopter. However, we have three of them now and that is a start.

I think the Minister could make a great job of this. He has said that the extension of fishery limits provided for in the Maritime Jurisdiction (Amendment) Act of 1964 raises the whole question of the adequacy of our fishery protection service and that this question is being thoroughly investigated but that it is a problem to which there is no easy solution. I think this is being approached in the typical Civil Service manner: you cannot make any mistake if you buy nothing. The Minister must realise that he has three corvettes and he is not able to put them to sea. Even if he could recruit sufficient men, if he could fit out these boats and get them to sea, they are not adequate to protect our fisheries.

The obvious thing for him to do— the experts will tell him he cannot do it but this is a case where the political head of a Department can make a decision and say: "Let this be done. We will take a chance on it"—is to bring in about six of these armed coastguard cutters and station them at various ports where fishing is likely to be heavy and when shoals start to run, they could be so directed as to have three of them at one fishing ground with a helicopter.

The Minister said it had been reported to him that the helicopter is unable to take a bearing that would measure the distance between the baseline and the ship. I find that hard to believe in an age of precision bombing instruments and navigational aids such as radar and asdic. Surely it must be possible, even if the baseline is drawn from head to head and that the measurement must be made from the portion of the sea through which the baseline passes. You then measure out 12 miles and anybody within that 12 miles is breaking the law. You must know where the 12 mile limit is. Surely there must be some method of dropping a colour buoy to mark the baseline? Surely if, in marking a ship, the helicopter came along at a low altitude and set his asdic on the buoy, he could measure precisely the distance he was away from it.

I am going into great detail about this because we are throwing away millions of pounds worth of fish and do not seem to bother about it. I am fully convinced that if the captains of these trawlers saw the support coming from these fast armed coastguard cutters that would be called out and put on to them and the helicopter staying over the fellow running to get outside the limit and marking him, saying: "There is your man", they would be more careful. When he is brought before the local justice, he usually has £25,000 to £30,000 worth of a catch on board. This is seized and the local justice usually fines him a fairly stiff fine of £1,000 or £1,500. He can walk out of the court and buy back his gear, return to his ship and go away again and will think that the chance he took was worth taking.

One such trawler captain was brought into the port of Waterford. He did not get his catch or his gear back. The gear was sold to Bord Iascaigh Mhara for about £1,400. I do not know whether or not I am being unprofessional in this matter. I happen to have been the auctioneer. I had great satisfaction in selling that gear, which consisted of good nets and good ropes, to my own countrymen. I considered it preferable that it should be given to my countrymen at the right price than to let these pirates sail away with it.

The Minister must not waste any time about this. I should like to read on the paper next week or the week after that the decision had been made in the Department of Defence to dispose of the corvettes and that trials were being made of craft or cutters that would be supplied on order because there is competition amongst those who build that type of craft.

The next thing we have to consider is the manning of the craft. For the position in the Naval Service, we must lay the blame at the door of the Minister for Defence. In a reply to a Parliamentary Question regarding recruitment to the Naval Service, I discovered that last year there were no officers recruited and there were 20 men recruited. The wastage is extraordinarily high. That is due to the mean pay a seaman will get from Dark Rosaleen if he goes into her Naval Service. A senior petty officer gets 25/- a day, free quarters and uniform. An ordinary labouring man in the country who might not have half the skills a senior petty officer must have is better off than that. Here is a man who has submitted himself to the discipline of the navy and has worked his way up from being a seaman, fourth class, up to senior petty officer. The Minister must be realistic and remember that good seamen are at a premium at the present time.

Now let us take the seaman fourth class. He will not be bothered by the income tax collector. His pay is 13/8 a day or about £4 10s. a week. That is in the year 1965. The Minister knows that his recruiting drive is a failure and must realise why that is so. Yet he does nothing about it. The Minister must realise that if he offers 13/8 a day, he has no chance of securing recruits in view of the competition at Whitegate and the dockyards in the vicinity of Cobh. Nobody will sell himself for 13/8 a day when he can get a whole lot more money in a far softer job. The Minister must approach this matter realistically. It may be that the Minister is going to do that. It has been the policy of Fianna Fáil not to budget for enough, to show that they are aware of the necessity for economies. If the Minister faces this matter realistically, he will have to bring in a Supplementary Estimate.

The Minister has indicated that the helicopter service could not be used at night or in storms at night to take people off islands or to go to the islands in an emergency. I do not agree, any more than I agree with the suggestion that helicopters could not establish the position of trawlers out to the 12 mile limit. Flares can be used and landings can be made. Of course, the Minister has firsthand knowledge of this matter. I believe that at one time he was marooned on one of the islands and could not get off. It could happen again and it might be very important that the Minister be got off the island. If, say, there were a division coming up in the House, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach would not be very pleased if he got a message to the effect that the Minister was marooned on an island and that a helicopter could not take him off because it was dark or stormy. In view of the fact that helicopters were able to take three men off Carnsore in the greatest storm that blew for years, I have no doubt of their ability to operate in bad weather. The Minister should review the matter and get in touch with the officers in charge of the helicopters.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.