asked the Minister for Defence the total strength of the armed forces at 14th March, 1973, and at the latest date for which figures are available.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Armed Forces Strength.
I assume the Deputy has in mind the strength of the Permanent Defence Force. This is compiled for the last day of each month. The strength was 10,618 on 31 March, 1973 and 11,312 on 31 March, 1974.
Will the Minister ensure that a sufficient number of armed soldiers are sent to Border areas to protect the Garda who are, at the moment, unarmed and are under attack?
That is a different question.
The Deputy will be aware——
It is purely a statistical matter.
——that the position at the moment is that the Department of Justice and the Garda ask for this service. In every case in which the service is asked for it is provided. As well as that, military patrols are also provided in a general way.
On a point of order, the Chair intervened on a supplementary question put by Deputy Cunningham indicating that, because it was a statistical question, it was not in order. Is it the case that, if the Minister is asked about a matter of statistics, you rule that as new matter being brought in by the Deputy?
That is not the position. The Chair decided new matter was being introduced on this particular question.
I am sorry if I was out of order, a Cheann Comhairle.
Has this not to do with the number of the armed forces? In respect of the number of the armed forces, I am suggesting a use that could be made of the extra numbers. I think, therefore, my supplementary question should be in order.
I am sorry, a Ceann Comhairle, if I transgressed.
I did not say anything about the Minister.
I know that.
I was merely looking for clarification.
In every case in which the Department of Justice ask for assistance that service is given and made fully available.