Vote 45: Defence.

I move:

That a sum not exceeding £72,960,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1976, 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 certain grants-in-aid.

The Estimate for Defence for the financial year 1976 is a net sum of £72,960,000. It contains provision for an average strength of 1,341 officers, 171 cadets and 13,500 men. The 1975 Estimate amounted to £59,322,000 including a Supplementary Estimate of £10,376,000, and was based on an average strength of 1,211 officers, 146 cadets and 11,000 men. The current strength of the permanent Defence Force stands at its highest level for over 25 years—over 13,800 people.

The pay provisions in the Estimate account for £55,336,000. The terms of the national pay agreements have been applied to all ranks and the current pay rates for men range from £35.37 a week plus food and accommodation for an unmarried recruit to £76.70 a week for a married Sergeant-Major. Children's allowances are payable also. There are allowances for Border duty and special security duties in locations other than Border areas. These rates should make the Army an attractive prospect for young men.

A number of non-commissioned officers and privates of the permanent Defence Force are attending courses which will enable them to sit for the Department of Education day group certificate and the leaving certificate examinations. Others who have registered as apprentices in the trades of fitter, motor mechanic, sheet metal worker, bricklayer, painter, decorator and plasterer, are following courses at a number of AnCo centres. Some of these apprentices are attending either full-time off-the-job training courses or day release courses. During the past year over 100 men were involved in these courses.

Due to the abnormal demands of the present security situation I regret that it has not been found possible to release for these courses as many men as we would like. Deputies may rest assured, however, that no effort is being spared to improve the general levels of education and technical training of the soldiers in order to provide them with the knowledge and skills which are so vital to a modern army and which will also be of help to them in obtaining suitable civilian employment when their term of service has ended.

Members of the permanent Defence Force who attend third level courses of education in their own time are refunded the cost of tuition and fees; 87 cadets were appointed from competitions held during the year for the Army, Air Corps, and Naval Service. There are at present 137 cadets in training, 80 of whom will be commissioned during the year; 107 officers and cadets are pursuing degree courses at University College, Galway; 22 non-commissioned officers are completing a potential officers' course and will be commissioned later this year; 105 apprenticeships were awarded in the Army and Air Corps during 1975.

Games and physical training have a special place in Army life. Sports competitions are held at unit and command level and, where possible, matches are arranged with representative sides such as the Garda, universities and so on. An Army cross-country team took part in an international competition in Algiers in 1975 and a team was also sent to Tunis this year for a similar competition. All-Army gymnastic competitions are held annually and adventure training clubs have been established in all commands. Adventure training includes activities such as sub-aqua swimming, mountaineering, boating, sailing and canoeing. Swimming baths are hired regularly and swimming instruction is included in the recruit training syllabus.

Recent years have seen an increasing involvement of the Defence Forces in the sphere of internal security. In discharge of these duties the permanent Defence Force have been greatly helped by members of the First Line Reserve on full-time service and also by An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil, whose members performed week-end duties and other forms of part-time service. I would like to express my admiration for the dedicated manner in which all branches of the Defence Forces and all ranks have carried out their demanding tasks during the past year. They have earned the gratitude and warm appreciation of the Government. I feel sure that Deputies will also wish to be associated with this tribute.

The involvement of the Defence Forces in the role of assistance to the Garda Síochána is a grim reminder of the continuing gravity of the situation. Out of this involvement a close and harmonious liaison has been forged between the two forces at all levels. It is an assurance to law-abiding citizens that the rule of law shall prevail.

The extent of the Army's contribution towards security may be gauged from the following outline of activities during the 12 months ended on 31st December, 1975:

(a) About 5,500 military parties were supplied for checkpoint duties and helped gardaí to set up 10,000 joint checkpoints;

(b) over 5,400 patrols were sent out into the road network along the Border. These patrols are equipped with radio and can be directed to the scene of a Border incident by radio. The patrols have instructions to detain any persons found carrying arms illegally;

(c) escorts for explosives and blasting operations were provided on 1,000 occasions;

(d) almost 300 requests for bomb disposal teams were dealt with.

In addition, several vital non-military installations are under permanent military guard and others are protected by military patrols. There are also activities arising out of the guarding and escorting of civilian prisoners and the conduct of searches for arms, ammunition and explosives. While the list of duties set out above is formidable, it is by no means exhaustive. These duties tax very considerably the manpower of the Defence Forces.

Every citizen has a basic obligation to uphold law and order. It is not enough to leave the discharge of this fundamental responsibility to the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces. These are the democratically constituted forces of law and order but if they are to be successful in their task they need and are entitled to get the full support and co-operation of every right-minded citizen. Until violence is ended the Defence Forces will continue to provide full support for the Garda in the maintenance of law and order and in the preservation of the democratic fabric of the State.

The Naval Service continue to perform their special role of fishery protection. In 1975 one of the minesweepers went on a training cruise to France. There was a net strength increase of 75 during 1975 and the present strength of the Naval Service is at its highest for many years. The numbers will be further increased when the new vessel, to which I will refers presently, is brought into commission in 1977.

As I announced last year, the Government had to withdraw the Irish contingent serving with the United Nations in the Middle East. At the time of their withdrawal, it was made clear to the Secretary-General of the United Nations that the Government would be happy, when the present needs had passed, again to send an Irish contingent to the Middle East and that we regarded our commitment to the United Nations as a continuing one.

There are still 21 officers attached as observers to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation in Palestine. Deputies may be interested to know that two of these officers occupy senior posts in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission. In addition, one officer and four non-commissioned personnel are serving in staff appointments with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

As regards recoupment of expenses arising out of our commitments to the United Nations, the overall position in regard to the Cyprus operation is that out of claims totalling £4.8 million we have received payment of £3.62 million. This leaves a sum of £.56 million outstanding.

In the case of the contingents which served with the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East payments amounting to £427,000 on foot of pay and allowances have been received in accordance with the special financial arrangements covering this force. These arrangements, which were worked out by the United Nations in consultation with the troop-contributing countries, are based on a flat payment per man per month and have proved more favourable to us than the reimbursement arrangements which applied to previous United Nations operations. In addition, claims are being submitted in respect of military stores and equipment.

The considerable increase in the financial provisions for stores and equipment in recent years is proof of the Government's intention to provide a well-equipped mobile Army. Further substantial purchases are provided for in the present Estimate. The transport position has been improved considerably through a phased programme of new purchases. This year provision is made for the supply of additional trucks, saloon cars, landrovers and various other vehicles.

In the past year four Fouga Magister aircraft were delivered and a further two are expected later this year. These are jet trainer aircraft in replacement of the Vampire jets which have now reached the end of the road. Provision is also included for an initial payment towards the purchase of basic training aircraft to replace the old Chipmunks and Provosts.

A contract has been placed with Cork Dockyard for the construction of a second fishery protection vessel, delivery of which is expected towards the end of 1977. The Estimate includes provision for payments on foot of this contract.

A provision of £156,000 has been made for the Equitation School— subhead N—including £100,000 for the purchase of horses. Last year four horses were purchased at a cost of £41,500. During 1975, Army riders and horses competed in international shows at Dublin, Brussels, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Hickstead and Wembley. Two of our riders won the pairs competition at the international show in Brussels. In addition 39 horse shows and gymkhanas were attended. The total prize money won in 1975 was about £5,600.

The helicopter service, as well as playing an important role in security operations, has provided its customary rescue, ambulance and other services. In search and rescue 57 missions were flown last year and 66 ambulance missions were completed.

The building programme provision is £1,887,000 and, as usual, priority is being given to requirements in Border areas. The new accommodation at Monaghan is expected to be ready in the autumn. A new billet block was opened in Dundalk last year and further improvements are being planned at that post. Priority is being given to the improvement of accommodation and facilities at Finner Camp. Provision has been included for the commencement of a scheme of 50 houses for married soldiers at the Curragh Training Camp. It is planned to improve living conditions at a number of other posts. Among the works completed or substantially completed during 1975 were a new dining-hall and cookhouse and a new canteen at the Curragh; a new dining-hall and cookhouse at Columb Barracks, Mullingar; improvements to the dining-hall and cookhouse at McKee Barracks; a new officers' mess at Connolly Barracks, Longford; the modernisation of four billet blocks at the Curragh and a new FCA headquarters building in Navan.

Miscellaneous works already begun or planned to commence during the year include an extension to the dining-hall and cookhouse at Cathal Brugha Barracks, improvements to the cavalry workshops at the Curragh and a new apprentice school building at Casement Aerodrome. A new FCA headquarters building at Westport is nearing completion.

Last year I referred to the proposal to evacuate Cathal Brugha Barracks and to replace it by new barracks outside Dublin. In reply to a question in the House on 10th February last, I indicated that the matter was being studied by an inter-departmental committee, that the financial and service implications were considerable and that early developments were not expected.

Since the subject was first mooted there has been a large increase in the intake of recruits and all available accommodation in the Dublin area is urgently needed to assist in housing the additional numbers. Consequently, because of military exigencies, Cathal Brugha Barracks will continue to be used for some time to come.

The electricity supply to the barracks has been unsatisfactory for some years past. Arrangements were made with the Electricity Supply Board to have the married quarters connected directly to the board's network, thus reducing the load on the supply to the barracks proper, and to instal a new transformer for the supply to the barracks. The other ranks' married quarters have now been connected directly to the board's network and the officers' married quarters will be linked up within the next two weeks. Work on the provision of the supply to the barracks proper is expected to be completed at an early date.

The Yacht Creidne, which was purchased last year to enable sail training to be continued pending the construction of the proposed new vessel Brendan, carried out a full programme of training cruises during the 1975 sailing season. Creidne spent a total of 137 days on cruises covering a distance of nearly 5,000 miles. In all over 400 persons availed of the training cruises.

This year is a special one in the realm of sail training with international transatlantic races which will involve a fleet of tall ships crossing the Atlantic to the United States by way of the Canaries and Bermuda. These races are being organised to coincide with the American Bicentennial Commemoration and the piece de resistance will be the parade of sailing ships which will take place in New York Harbour on American Independence Day on 4th July. Under the guidance of some very experienced members of the Sail Training Committee Creidne has been carefully and thoroughly prepared over the winter months for her participation in the races. We have every confidence that she will acquit herself well in her class.

The Creidne will leave Dún Laoghaire on 15th April next for Plymouth from which port the race is scheduled to start on 2nd May.

Over 50 persons in all will be involved as crew members on Creidne from the time she leaves Dún Laoghaire until her return to Galway in late August. More than half of this number will be young people under 25 years of age.

A sum of £405,000 has been provided for Civil Defence—subhead G. For the expenditure of this modest sum, we have available a voluntary organisation which provides an invaluable service to the community. £285,000 of the provision represents the cost of paying grants to local authorities at the level of 70 per cent of their outlay on Civil Defence functional administration, on the recruitment and training of volunteers and on the storage, servicing and maintenance of equipment and so on. Deputies will be aware of the key role which local authorities play in the operation of the Civil Defence service and I am glad to pay tribute here to the officers of local councils and regional health boards for their work in Civil Defence in their areas. The subhead also provides for the purchase of new Civil Defence uniforms and equipment and for the replacement of existing equipment.

There are some 27,000 volunteers on the local authority rolls and while all who have been trained may not continue as active members, it is virtually certain that the services of the great majority would be available in an emergency. Meanwhile, the active members provide a most valuable pool of trained personnel, capable of dealing with peace-time calamities such as fires, floods and so on, or assisting at the scene of bomb disasters such as those in Dundalk last December and, more recently, Castleblayney. I am indebted to the Irish Red Cross Society, the Order of Malta and the St. John Ambulance Brigade for their valued co-operation with the Civil Defence organisation.

Subhead BB provides for a grant-in-aid to the Irish Red Cross Society which includes an allocation for emergency relief. I might mention here that during 1975 sums amounting to £12,775 were made available to the society to enable them to contribute to the relief of distress in Cyprus, Angola and the Lebanon.

Not many years ago it was a commonplace for people to ask such questions as: Why have an Army at all? What is the Army for? These questions are not asked any more because in the turbulence of our times there has been a growing sense of gratitude on the part of our people that the security of the State is in good keeping.

If today the emphasis in relation to the Army's function is on internal security and aid of the civil power, that is not to say that the Army are simply an auxiliary police force. It must never be forgotten that the Army are, in the nature of things, an armed force maintained by the Government for the essential purpose of defending the State. Because of that essential purpose it follows that the Army's numbers must be kept at an adequate level, that they must be properly equipped and that there are proper service conditions for their personnel. All this means expenditure but it is part of the investment we must make for the sake of the country's orderly progress and development.

I turn now to the Army Pensions Estimate which is also before the House. This is for a net sum of £12,305,000 for the year ending 31st December, 1976. The net figure for the year ended 31st December, 1975, was £10,542,000, including a Supplementary Estimate of £205,000.

Included in the £12,305,000 for the present year is a sum of £608,000 to cover the increases in the pensions and allowances which will become payable from the 1st July, 1976, in accordance with the principle of maintaining parity in public service pensions.

There are increases in the numbers of pensions, allowances and gratuities payable under subhead B, wound and disability pensions and gratuities; subhead C, widows' allowances, and subhead E, pensions and gratuities for retired members of the permanent Defence Force and in the number of funeral grants payable under subhead N in respect of deceased recipients of special allowances and military service pensions and a small number of deceased disablement pensioners.

Under subhead C there are about 4,500 widows of military service pensioners in receipt of allowances equal to one-half of their deceased husbands' pensions at current rates and subject to a minimum rate of £113.40 per annum. The average rate of allowance is £171 per annum.

The number of special allowances payable under subhead H continues to show a downward trend, reflecting the excess of deaths over new awards. At present there are about 9,500 allowances being paid and the average allowance works out at £250 per annum.

I commend both Estimates to the favourable consideration of the House. If the Deputies require more information on any points, I shall be glad to give it when replying to the debate.

I wish to support the Estimate introduced by the Minister. The people we are dealing with here lay their lives on the line and their service cannot be measured in terms of pounds and shillings. The Minister has given various figures with regard to payments but that does not seem a lot. I think at times that they are inadequately paid. The people concerned cannot be compared with any others in the country. They are in the position where they must put their lives on the line and death is regarded as an occupational hazard. During the years the personnel in the Defence Forces have shown unquestionable loyalty, whether to protect the liberty so dearly won or to ensure the right of people to live without fear or intimidation. As the Minister indicated, it is the duty of every citizen to assist members of the Defence Forces and the security forces in every way possible.

Nevertheless, there are many aspects that must be questioned and many problems that must be debated to ensure that the Defence Forces adjust to meet the ever-changing times and problems. We are a small country with limited finances and we must ensure that such finances are used to the best value.

In the last 12 months I have had the opportunity of visiting military posts in Galway, Cork, Athlone, the Curragh, Collins Barracks, Dublin, Dundalk and Cavan and I have observed the presence of the military forces in the Border area. I have also visited the Naval Service at Haulbowline, the Air Corps and the Equitation School. I have a fair insight into the problems that exist throughout the Defence Forces. I should like to pay a special tribute to all the people who assisted in the organisation of my tour. I was received with courtesy and got every assistance.

It appears to me from my tour that there has been no basic change in military thinking since the forties when I was serving. It is necessary to ensure that evaluation studies be of a continuing nature, not just from one emergency to another. This is very obvious to anybody who discusses the situation with those on the ground. There has been no basic change, but we must adopt ourselves to new tactics and techniques. It was the tendency of armies in the past to take the concluding tactics of one war as the primary tactics of the next, as seen with other armies in Dunkirk and elsewhere, but there is a need for radical change in thinking.

In 1922 we took over a colonial system and that has been maintained, with the exception of the changes in the 1940s, ever since. I am aware that many officers went abroad on courses but we have not seen any radical change in organisation or restructuring as a result. As one travels through the country one can see the unsatisfactory situation in relation to some of the military posts. There is unsatisfactory accommodation and I have no doubt that TDs or civil servants would not live in some of the accommodation military personnel who put their lives on the line are obliged to live in. Civil service standards can be seen in Castlebar or Teach Furbo which will be taken over or the new Setanta building. That is the type of accommodation civil servants have but not so for military personnel.

Recently I visited Cavan military barracks and, as the military personnel know, and the Minister knows, if one put a wheelbarrow across the entry gate it would be impossible for the military inside to get out. This one inlet and no outlet situation that exists there, and in Dundalk, should have been considered some years ago. It is of great importance in a Border area where the swift military movement of troops is necessary. With the use of the existing military establishment in Cavan and Dundalk it is necessary to have troop-carrying helicopters to ensure that military personnel can at least get out of the barracks. Any type of obstruction at present could prevent troop movement from certain military posts in the Border areas.

The necessity to acquire troop-carrying helicopters should have become obvious to the military thinkers over the years to ensure the free movement of personnel. What would happen in Dublin city if military personnel were required in O'Connell Street during the rush hour? How long would it take to move the troops from, for instance, Cathal Brugha barracks? They would certainly walk much faster. In a riot situation it is necessary to move troops speedily and this can only be done by the use of troop-carrying helicopters. We are well equipped with armoured vehicles but because of the terrain and the movement of road transport such vehicles can be impeded. It is not tank country or armoured vehicle country to any great degree.

A policy document was issued recently on the Army. I should like to state that as a result of my tour there are a number of matters I feel should be attended to. The Minister stated that equipment is being purchased and I have no doubt that it is but is the best equipment always purchased? In some cases I do not think it is. In my view many blunders were made in the not too distant past. The question of the purchasing of equipment should be examined on a much broader basis. In the document which was issued recently we set out a proposal for an alternation in age limits. We considered the present structure where the age limits have been graded upwards as a result of a variety of pressures, many of which ceased to exist. Many of those who have medals or bars who wish to get extensions have rightly obtained them. Nevertheless, in this new situation we must ensure that the personnel must be comparatively young, physically fit and able to carry out any of the duties required of them. There seems to have been some confusion in the minds of some of the personnel in relation to that matter. We were anxious to have the matter examined. We wanted those under an existing contract of service to serve out the contract and there was no question of interfering with the rights of personnel. This reduction to a more realistic set of age limits is necessary and desirable. Such limits would ensure that promotional opportunities would be available at an earlier age than at present.

If we look at other armies we will see that they have senior officers of 35 and 40 years of age. Our Army personnel should have those opportunities. There should be a proper career system which will attract personnel into the service. A comprehensive review of the career structure should take place. Periodic assessments would ensure that personnel would be able to avail of promotion opportunities or terminate their service if they felt the opportunities were not available. It is important that we have forward planning. It is necessary, in the first instance, that we have officers of the highest calibre.

I am not satisfied that the educational opportunities offered are the best available. Personnel should be assessed on lines similar to those in other armies so that they know their prospects of promotion within the service. If they are misfits they can adapt themselves through education and other means within the service for early retirement. This is imperative. We all know that a bad lieutenant becomes a bad captain, a bad lieutenant colonel and a bad colonel. However, an early assessment situation of officers, NCOs and men would ensure that we have men of the best calibre who are equipped to deal with modern problems making use of modern techniques. The outlining of a career structure to officers, NCOs and men would be a tremendous advantage. The position is haphazard. One takes his chance. If the person above the corporal cuts corners the corporal cuts corners. There must be a code. There must be standards. They are not there at the moment. There should be a positive career structure and positive career guidance and assessment at intervals so that personnel will know their long term opportunities or alternatively will be able to resettle at an early stage.

The pay structure should be altered. It is not enough that, say, an infantry unit should move into an area and ask "Where are the engineers? We want to detonate explosives." There should be in every unit personnel equipped to do this work. A variety of courses should be made available in relation to signalling, engineering, transportation and so on and men who pursue courses and get the necessary qualification should be paid accordingly. A fixed payment regardless of qualification means that the lazy man gets as much as the man who does his job effectively. People should be paid for knowledge. We would have a more effective defence force if people were paid for their knowledge. The person who does not want to commit himself, who does not want to increase his knowledge and skill, who is of minimal advantage to a unit should not receive the same consideration as the man who studied and equipped himself so as to give better service. The pay structure should reward personnel for time spent in the development of talent.

Accommodation is an important factor. I would hope to see a big change in the approach to the provision of accommodation. As I have said before, the accommodation in which some military personnel exist is not what I would consider suitable and I am quite confident that the Minister and other Members of Dáil Éireann, and, indeed, civil servants would reject out of hand the type of accommodation that is provided in some cases. There should be an immediate survey and apprraisal of all military posts and barracks and they should be brought up to modern standards. There is now an ideal opportunity to do this. The Government are paying people 85 per cent of their wages while they are unemployed. The Government should introduce public works schemes to which unemployed persons could be diverted. Such schemes could include the improvement of military barracks. Workers could be used to carry out work which does not require more than manpower if money is not available to purchase materials. Certain improvements could be carried out in military barracks and people would be taken off the dole queue.

I have been in Collins Barracks and I know how derelict some sections of the barracks are. The same applies to other barracks. The same applies to married quarters. The Minister intends to proceed with the provision of 50 houses for married personnel. I do not blame the Minister for the present state of married quarters. This is a long standing problem. Successive Ministers have neglected this matter. It is not one that can be rectified over night. Some of the married quarters are not fit for human habitation. If local authorities were to examine some of the accommodation, they would deem it unfit for human habitation.

During the war years I was stationed in the Curragh. Married quarters were evacuated and this is where I was stationed. In some cases the accommodation consisted of boxes and these are still occupied by families. One could get claustrophobia. Even military personnel who were prepared to rough it considered the accommodation outmoded at that time.

I am not satisfied that the provision of accommodation should be a charge on the Defence budget. In areas where military personnel are stationed there is a special responsibility on local authorities and the Department of Defence should not have to be burdened with this problem. It is the responsibility of the Department of Defence to maintain an Army capable of going into action at a given moment. Military personnel should not have to live in inferior accommodation. Personnel will be lax if the Army is lax in relation to their problems.

I would hope that the whole question of married quarters would be dealt with as speedily as possible in conjunction with the Department of Local Government. The question should be examined of the provision of housing for military personnel in towns where married quarters are not available. There are in Dublin city reserved houses. There is a responsibility on the local authority of any area where military personnel are based because of the substantial inflow of income to the area by virtue of that military personnel being based there. The provision of married quarters within barracks was desirable in the past but may not be so desirable now. The Department of Defence should not have to bear the burden of providing married quarters within barracks for the number of personnel required to meet the existing security situation.

Every effort should be made to modernise the training system and to ensure that individual skills and talents are fully developed. Every opportunity should be provided for personnel and they should be rewarded in accordance with their skills.

The Minister has touched on the question of physical education, athletics and leisure-time activities. What is important is that the soldier would develop all his military skills but it is equally important that he should have an opportunity of developing other skills and every encouragement should be given to him to develop such skills. In some cases those opportunities are given. In others they are not. Where you have sports conscious officers there will be adequate provision for sports but where such officers do not exist there will be no provision. Every member of the Army should have an opportunity of developing sporting skills. A high degree of physical fitness is necessary and desirable and the way to achieve this is through the provision of sporting facilities. Encouragement should be given to people with artistic or cultural inclinations to develop those to the best advantage and a general look should be taken at the situation to ensure no injustice is done.

I would hope that we would reach a situation where every member would be able to put on a flak jacket and go into action, if necessary. Unfortunately, that is not the position. Many men are engaged on duties of a non-military nature. Men are engaged as waiters and orderlies. To me it is humiliating for a soldier to have to polish floors or to make tea for officers. There should be a restructuring to ensure better service and the release of the largest possible number of fully trained personnel should the necessity arise. That is not the situation at the moment. There are as many men tied up on non-essential jobs as there are on actual military service duties. It is important that this should be examined. The number of people dug in, to use Army parlance, is quite considerable. The position is unrealistic. All men should be available for military service. That is the service for which they are trained.

There should be qualified career guidance officers in the Army. It is not satisfactory to appoint inexperienced personnel for this purpose, personnel who do not meet the basic requirements. Properly qualified career guidance officers should be appointed to assess capabilities and to ensure a systematic development in education, officers competent to advise on the many problems confronting the average soldier. It is sad to see so many overholders in married quarters with no hope of obtaining accommodation from local authorities having given a considerable period of their lives to the Army and the service of the nation. They should be advised at an early stage so that they would be equipped ultimately to meet the problems of resettlement in civilian life. From time to time personnel have been appointed to advise young soldiers and sometimes the advice given has not been to the advantage to the soldier seeking it, but rather to his disadvantage because of the inability of the person appointed to cope with the situation. That is why I say proper career guidance personnel should be appointed.

Education to enable a soldier to equip himself for civilian life on discharge is most important. Discharged personnel are very often forgotten men who find it difficult to obtain any kind of employment. Indeed, we see some of them hanging on to petrol pumps. That is no way for a man who has given 20 or 30 years' service to the nation to finish up. The Minister has outlined some of the educational opportunities being provided. He does not go far enough. We dealt with this in our policy document. Our aim was to ensure that these men would have an opportunity of employment when they leave the Army. There should be refresher courses and every educational assistance possible should be given to these men to ensure they will not be forgotten men. There should be special assistance given to discharged personnel.

The Minister mentioned the services available for a man in service, but the real difficulties are met when the man is discharged from the service. Then he is forgotten. After nine or 12 months in civilian life, if a man sees a job for which he thinks he could qualify with tutorial assistance, the Army should provide facilities, including loans, to enable him to pursue a degree course or courses leading to professional or vocational qualifications.

Disabled personnel are also forgotten. I have met a number of them in recent times and discussed their problems with them. They feel completely deserted by the State and rely for assistance of one kind or another from the local health authority. Some of these men could do correspondence courses which would fit them for civilian life. When a man is discharged because of a disability it is only after perhaps, three, four or five years that he is fit enough to pursue activities of this nature. The Army should still have that responsibility.

There are also the wives of disabled people and the widows of ex-servicemen. When they are the breadwinners educational and other facilities should be available to them. There is a whole area here that must be examined to ensure that these people are not forgotten.

We also proposed a system of vocational rehabilitation to give training to disabled ex-servicemen on a full-time or part-time basis, and that, in addition to the disability allowance, they should be given a subsistence allowance and also allowances for books and fees, and that suitable vocational counselling should be available to them in deciding on the most suitable occupation for them.

We would also hope that fuller use would be made of Army hospitals. There are many vacant beds in these hospitals. These facilities should be available to ex-servicemen on retirement pension, that is, long service men. These men are lost when they leave the Army. They have nothing in common with people outside. In many cases their families are gone and the only comradeship they have is that of old soldiers. If hospitalisation were available to them when required, it would be an advantage not only to them but also to the Army doctors who would have a fuller practice and would be able to keep abreast of modern medical techniques. The Army could be paid the social welfare or other benefits that are payable to hospitals, and in that way the cost would be minimal. The Army also has responsibility for the continuity of treatment for ex-service men who become drug dependent during service, particularly overseas service. Treatment should be continued through the Army because the case records would be available to military personnel. Greater use should be made of Army hospitals during the valley periods. I would hope there would also be a reappraisal of the Army Nursing Service.

I have referred to the Army Equitation School on a number of occasions in the past and I want to refer to it again. I believe this is an officers' club. If we are to have an Army Equitation School which is of no military value it should not be an officers' club. NCOs and men who have natural ability for horse riding should have the same opportunity as officers. Among the 13,000 or 14,000 other ranks I believe there are talented people who have been passed over. If the Army is picking a boxing team or a football team they do not pick officers only. If they are picking any other team, officers are not picked in toto. There seems to be special treatment in relation to jumping teams. This is a situation that has annoyed many people. We are living in a different period to the days of past glory. On occasions when NCOs did jump they did themselves and the nation proud. I am thinking of Sergeant Finlay and others who brought back trophies when they had to step into the breach.

There seems to be a power struggle between the Army Equitation School and Bord na gCapall. Between these two bodies they get £1 million, £316,000 for the Army Equitation School and over £600,000 for Bord na gCapall. This matter should be solved once and for all. Let either the Army Equitation School or Bord na gCapall have responsibility for equitation. The Minister said that the purpose of the Army Equitation School was to advertise and sell Irish horses abroad, which, of course, is completely incorrect. As I say, last year the Army Equitation School spent over £300,000 and Bord na gCapall spent £612,000.

This area should be investigated and expanded. It must be decided who will train the horses, Bord na gCapall or the Army Equitation School. If Bord na gCapall take over, there is no reason why competent Army riders would not be able to compete. If the Army Equitation School is to continue, I see no reason why it should not be open to privates, NCOs and members of the FCA who could compete with distinction for their country. I believe there are many men with natural ability who have been deprived of this opportunity because of the club-like mentality in the Army Equitation School. It amazes me that this attitude has existed for so long.

Recently I was speaking to a young man who joined the service believing he would have an opportunity to ride but found he was in a dead end. NCOs and privates work in this school but only the officers are given the opportunities to ride. That is wrong. I read recently in the newspapers that very high charges are being charged by the Army Equitation School to keep Bord na gCapall horses. We are told that these charges are way above those charged elsewhere. There is clearly a power struggle here and the situation must be clarified for everybody's sake. I would ask the Minister to broaden the base of the Army Equitation School to ensure that no man with ability will be denied an opportunity to advance, whether it is in education or otherwise. I see no reason why a private or an NCO could not attend courses in Galway university. At the moment this opportunity is available to cadets and others.

I have mentioned military justice on numerous occasions. We have reached the stage where we must take another look at it. The Minister should institute an immediate review of the present unsatisfactory situation. Because he has taken on certain powers in relation to promotion, an officer is denied the opportunity to redress a wrong. This right was clearly outlined in the Defence Act, 1954. If the Minister promotes a man against the advice of the Chief of Staff, it is to the Minister that the complaint is made if the man feels aggrieved because he has not been promoted.

The Minister dealt with pension provisions. He should take another look at the pension situation to ensure that some type of normality is restored to the present situation. It is difficult to interpret the pensions structure at the moment.

I believe the FCA are a forgotten force, notwithstanding the fact that the Minister has given them some praise. In theory, there may be a reserve but in practice there is not. We suggested that consideration be given to the feasibility of integrating the present reserve with the FCA to comprise one national reserve. This would give a suitable role to the FCA and the reserves and provide them with adequate methods of training. The reserves have no role to play at the moment and the FCA are neglected. The paper strength of the FCA bears no relation to the actual strength of the force. This is an important force of dedicated men who wish to serve but who, because of difficulties which have been placed in their paths, feel they are overlooked and disregarded.

We were told some years ago that a study was being made of the FCA, an assessment was being made, the matter would be reported on, the role of the FCA would be examined. Their integration with the Defence Forces was never on—we all know that— and for that reason it is necessary that at this stage a new look be taken at the FCA. I and many other people feel that a reserve on the old volunteer lines would be much more satisfactory than the present system.

There have been many varied complaints from the FCA and I will mention but a few. An FCA man who goes training, whether in camp or on nightly or annual training, is not insured by the insurance company. Neither is he insured by the Army. If anything should happen to him— death or injury—no compensation will be paid by insurance companies. The Minister should clarify this position because the personnel are very worried.

They are also worried about tax assessment, the collection of tax from those doing their 14 days' annual training. They are concerned about the one uniform they are issued under present regulations. If they are out on a march at annual camp and the weather is wet or damp, the drying facilities in the barracks are very limited—if there are any at all—and the men do not have a second uniform. In many respects they consider that they have been neglected.

The question of insurance, too, is very important and in this regard we would like to hear from the Minister when he is replying to the debate.

In recent times I have been to the Border area in order to find out at first hand what is the position there regarding operations. During those visits I recalled an occasion on which, with other Members of this House, I visited Berlin and all I can say is that there was not as much activity at Checkpoint Charlie as there was on the part of the British on their side of the Border. To say the least, the situation there is uncomfortable and the personnel did not appear to operate with nearly the same degree of assistance as was found among our own personnel on this side of the Border. The provocative manner in which some British military personnel carried out their tasks did not make for free movement of persons in the execution of their daily tasks across this artificial divide. This is a matter of concern to all of us. The position was much more satisfactory in so far as our personnel were concerned and I compliment them on the manner in which they undertake their tasks.

With the development of Border duty and in view of the general desirability of free and fast movement, it is necessary that the Air Corps be in a position to move men in the quickest possible time from one area to another. I compliment them on the wonderful work they are doing in the fields of air-sea rescue, the training of pilots and aerial photography. The unit is efficient but it does not meet with the requirement regarding the desirability to move personnel quickly from one point to another. At a time of crisis the speed at which these operations is carried out is of the utmost importance. It might be much better to be able to move ten men in ten minutes rather than to move 100 men in 20 minutes. This brings us back to the question of the provision of larger type helicopters. In this area, too, we should be thinking of the re-introduction of sergeant pilots, a rank which existed during the war years and many of whom have since made their mark flying the north-Atlantic route or for various airlines throughout the world. It is my contention that helicopter pilots should come from ranks other than officer ranks. In other words, we should be more flexible in our approach to the recruitment of these pilots and not to have the situation merely of officer clubs. The re-introduction of sergeant pilots would be an incentive to many people to join the Air Corps. This force, too, should have their own ground defence units. There is no reason why they could not combine with FCA units in such operations as the defence of airfields, installations and so on. There is a point of view within the FCA that the Air Corps could offer special opportunities to people residing in areas adjacent to airfields, for instance.

It is good to note that additional vessels are being made available to enable the Naval Service increase their facilities since their duties have expanded with the protection of oil rigs, territorial limits and so on. However, what is needed is an additional base on the west coast and in this regard I would consider Donegal to be an ideal location. While the base at Haulbowline serves the east and south coasts reasonable well, the extensive strip from Donegal to Kerry is neglected. A second base might not necessarily be of the same dimensions as Haulbowline but it would be very valuable and would be an incentive to people to join the Naval Service. However, until such time as territorial limits are defined clearly it will be difficult to assess what is required in that sphere but we are aware that additional vessels are required for fisheries protection work.

I was glad to hear the Minister indicate that the question of our forces serving abroad with the UN remains open. It was regrettable that there was so much panic in regard to the withdrawing of our troops from some of those places. That was an undesirable step because as I have said, the number of people in dug-in jobs is as great if not greater than the number in actual service and many of them could be released for service.

Recently I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs for some information about the situation in the Congo. He made a number of books available in the Library. I have examined those books but they do not contain any of the information I require. It has been pointed out to me that some of the information in the United Nations report is erroneous and contradictory to that in the book To Katanga and Back. The report of one particular situation, a flashpoint in Katanga, is either erroneously given in the United Nations document or it is erroneously stated in the book, written by Deputy Cruise-O'Brien, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. Will the Minister try to obtain information in relation to the matter about which I sought information from the Minister for Foreign Affairs? I refer to reports on Elizabethville, Jadettville and Kamina air base. It appears to me that the United Nations were misled in the production of this document. Their report is at variance with the statement in the book written by the United Nations representative at that time, the present Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.

I hope before very long we will have the opportunity of sending some of our Army personnel to serve with the other Defence Forces. This would give them the opportunity of maintaining contact with armies from other countries and also of viewing up-to-date equipment and methods employed by other armed forces. Many members of our Parliamentary Party expressed the desire to see the development of the Timoney armoured car, which I understand is reaching final stages and has been on display from time to time. Would the Minister make this armoured car available for viewing to Members of the Oireachtas at an early stage? This seems to be a very high class development which was initiated by Fianna Fáil many years ago. I understand this may have commercial possibilities. If it is in Dublin in the near future I hope that Members of the Oireachtas can view it so that they can see for themselves the type of equipment which can be produced here successfully.

I asked a question some time ago in relation to the bomb disposal equipment which is under construction by the Army in their workshops. Has this been produced? What development has taken place so far and is the progress satisfactory? The Press reports at the time indicated that this matter had reached a satisfactory stage and had great possibilities. That is just like the development of armoured cars. If we can produce an armoured car which has market potential and is superior to any we have at the moment or superior to that used by other armies then we may have the technical know-how in this field.

One area of the FCA where there seems to be some neglect is that of the marine and coast watching service. They could co-operate with the Air Corps and the Naval Service in coast defence and sea rescue service. They could perform a most useful service because they would have knowledge of the coast.

In relation to the defence of Leinster House this matter seems to me to be at a ridiculous level. When I came in this morning I was stopped for a security check at the gate. A van went in in front of me but was not stopped. A Minister's car came in behind me and was not stopped but I was stopped. I had to get out of the car and open the boot. My brief case was not searched and nobody looked under the bonnet. It seems to me that the whole situation is out of line. There are two security checks. When a Minister's car comes in there is no security check and there is no security check into Government Buildings. I understand that an investigation has taken place into the security of this House from the Army point of view. Do they feel Leinster House is adequately protected? Why should the security check only apply to TDs? Why does it not apply to everybody? The opening of the boot of a car is a silly system because people who want to plant bombs can use magnetic attachments which can be put any place, certainly not in the boot of a car. If cars are to be searched every car should be searched.

I understand the matters to which the Deputy refers are not the responsibility of the Minister for Defence.

I hope we will have some positive thinking in the future regarding the re-structuring of the Defence Forces. I hope that officers who go abroad on courses from time to time will bring back information which will help the Army. Military thinking here has not changed very much since the forties. The last thing I want to mention is the use of Press cards by the British army recently. I understand some of those people may have attended a Press conference in a military barracks. What check is kept on those people? What check is kept on people who cross the Border? It appears to me that there is a very substantial number of incursions in relation to crossing the Border and the map reading ability of the British army seems to be very imperfect. They do not seem to know where they are going. On every occasion they attribute the crossings of the Border, whether in cars, concealed or otherwise, to mapreading problems. This seems to be a great defect within the British army.

It amazes me how accurate they are when they want to blow up a bridge or crater a road. They can pinpoint that. In the normal course of events they can penetrate into the Republic. They can come in vans or cars. They can come in as civilians and they can come in armed, and they are allowed to go back. People who come in here armed should be picked up and charged the same as anybody else, whether they are members of the British army, the SAS or any other body. They have no right to be here. The fact that we liberate them is a matter which needs further attention. People were taken away from a farmhouse recently. Vans were stopped and Press cards were used. What has been the penetration of British intelligence? How much do we know about it? The excuses given are not at all satisfactory. This matter must be kept in check to ensure that we are aware of their activities as well as the activities of others.

I am completely happy with the services rendered by our own people. I hope the Minister will indicate the necessary and desirable structural changes which might take place. Will we have air cavalry units at an early stage which can move from place to place as quickly as possible? Will he indicate at what stage the report is on the reorganisation of the FCA, whether it is an ongoing situation or whether it has been shelved, or if it is proposed to dispense with that service? If the promised report is not available soon, many dedicated people who are interested in this service will lose interest and we will have no back-up for the Army.

Is there any further information available from the United Nations in relation to the problem I outlined earlier? It is very important that we should get factual and actual information so that Members of the House will be able to investigate fully for themselves matters which they deem it necessary to probe into. On any occasion I sought information from the Department of Defence they were always most co-operative and I have no grievance whatsoever there.

I have been informed that the information supplied by the Department of Foreign Affairs is erroneous in content. I should like more up-to-date information. Many aspects have to be clarified. The reputations of many men have been tarnished. We must get the information as soon as possible so that we can examine for ourselves the problems of the past which have caused some unpleasantness in some circumstances. I want to make this clear. It is not a question of a which hunt. It is a question of clarification and of arriving at a true understanding of a situation which developed at a particular time when men were injured and others lost their lives.

I think there will be general agreement by Members of the House to support this Estimate introduced by the Minister for Defence. While there is an increase in the amount sought, people will readily understand the necessity. The amount is to be increased from £59 million in 1975 to practically £73 million in 1976. It will be appreciated that it is vital that we maintain the strength of our defence services. The Army definitely must be maintained by the State to defend the State. If the Army have to be more actively involved in internal security, it is vital that adequate sums be provided to see that they are properly equipped.

The leadership provided by the Minister for Defence and by the Army GHQ officers has been very successful in maintaining a high morale amongst all ranks of the Army. It is important that we should maintain this standard while the internal security of the State is at risk. It is at risk. We had evidence of that on many occasions during the year. We are satisfied that the joint efforts of the Army and the Garda can cope adequately with any situation that has arisen or which might arise in future.

The most vital aspect of an army's strength is to ensure the continuity of an intake of suitable recruits at all stages. It is gratifying for the Members of the House and for the people to know that, for the past 25 years, we have not had a greater strength in the Army than we have at the moment. It is now at its highest level. It is good to know that the terms of the national pay agreement have been applied to all ranks. About 25 or 30 years ago, it was not the custom to apply such agreements to the Army.

It is vital to have suitable recruits attested in our Army if we are to keep up the quality and the youth of our soldiers. Parents and others who are responsible for encouraging young men to join our defence services, the Army and the Air Corps, and our voluntary services such as the FCA, Civil Defence and, indeed, the Red Cross, the Knights of Malta, the St. John Ambulance Brigade, should be aware of the educational facilities which are now available, and which are provided by the Department of Education. Young men have an opportunity to attend day courses and to sit for day group certificates and the leaving certificate. This is an opportunity which should be availed of and everyone concerned should know the facilities their children would have if they joined the Army. There are opportunities for young men who have registered as fitters, motor mechanics, sheet and metal workers, bricklayers, painters, decorators and plasterers. They have the opportunity to qualify in those trades. There should be a realisation that a young man coming out of the Army is much better off than when he entered the Army; his education is improved and his ability to get a job in civilian employment is much enhanced. The officer corps have an opportunity to get third-level education and a refund may be made towards the cost of tuition and fees.

There are generous opportunities at every level in the Army and this is quite right. We should give priority to the men who serve in the Defence Forces because we are aware of their dedication and loyalty to the State. We should all be aware of our dependence on them to preserve stability in the country and to allow people to do their jobs without being molested or prevented from leading normal lives.

The physical aspect of Army training has been improving steadily through the years. We now have adventure training, sub-aqua swimming, mountaineering training, boating, sailing and canoeing. In fact, swimming is included in the training of recruits. Those who encourage young people to come into the Army should know that their mental and physical training is receiving attention. I do not think there is any area in which young people could get greater scope to compete. There are sports competitions held within the different Commands and there are the all-Army competitions. The PT teams have a very high standard and they are a pleasure to watch.

The harmonious relations between the Army and the Garda Síochána have been obvious in the last few years. Those two forces have contributed greatly to the confidence of the people. They know that in the event of an emergency the Defence Forces and the security forces will be able to cope. At the moment some people possibly wish to disrupt security but the public have confidence in the ability of our combined forces to deal with all situations.

Some people may not be aware that non-military installations are protected regularly by the Defence Forces and in this connection the FCA play an important part. I doubt if there is full appreciation of the contribution made by the people who have volunteered to serve in the FCA in the last 35 years. It is not properly understood that they are available at all times, they are unpaid and their standard of training is high. This is obvious when they compete in the competitions held at the Army ranges throughout the country; their standards in weapon training are very high.

Many years ago it was not popular to be a soldier. I do not know if this was due to the feelings held by our people with regard to the presence of the British army. Too few people encouraged youth to consider making a contribution in the area of defence. The easiest way any young man could contribute would be to enlist in his own area. In the last few years because of the security situation and because it is not possible to have proper strongrooms in each company area, weapons had to be stored in barracks where the standard of security was adequate.

The fact that weapons were not available in some way impeded the availability of weapons for the FCA. Nevertheless, the standard has not gone down. We have within the State a crops of volunteers, some are ex-members and the majority are serving members, who, unknown to the civil population, are willing and available, and have sworn an oath to this effect, to assist the Army. This is reassuring for our people. It is good to know that there is no lack of support for the Army.

The helicopter service rendered invaluable help during the past year in taking people to hospitals and rehabilitation centres. The general public are grateful for that but I believe an extension of that service should be considered by the Minister. Prompt action is vital when an emergency occurs. We should compliment the volunteers in the Civil Defence Force. It should be remembered that local authorities get 70 per cent of the outlay involved in training members of this force. Those volunteers are doing a good service and they have been trained to deal with any calamity. They have reached a particularly high standard in fire fighting. They are available should the necessity arise and they should receive recognition for their contribution. County managers have an interest in seeing Civil Defence promoted within their areas.

We should not forget that a grant-in-aid is paid to the Red Cross and that in return it is distributed to areas of distress. The Red Cross have given excellent service over the years. People who make voluntary contributions to the Red Cross from time to time are discouraged when they see that money contributed to that organisation in some cases outside the State is fraudulently converted. Our people, however, can rely on the headquarters of that organisation in this State. At no time has anything gone wrong in the administration of the funds our people contributed to that organisation here.

I should like to thank the Minister for his association with the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen. He has maintained liaison with that organisation and many points raised by the executive with him have been attended to. I should like to express the gratitude of ONE to the Minister for his interest and attention to their problems which in many cases he was able to solve. From time to time criticism is levelled at the Army Equitation School because of the lack of success of their horses and riders. It is said that they do not reflect the glory of the past but in my view this could be related in many cases to the quality of the horses our Army officers are expected to ride in various events. Undoubtedly our successes are not as spectacular as they were in the past but now that we have started purchasing animals of quality we might achieve better results in a few years.

Reference has been made to the need to provide proper accommodation for personnel in barracks. There has been slow progress in that regard over the past 20 or 30 years. Our NCOs and men are entitled to good accommodation. The old houses used by the British are still in use in most barracks and too few of the Army billets have been modernised. I am well aware of the standard of such billets and the slow rate of investment by the State in bringing about more comfortable accommodation for our soldiers. Our soldiers are the first citizens of the country and they should get the proper recognition irrespective of how restricted we may be in regard to finance. Progress has been slow in this regard and the buildings occupied by single men as well as the married quarters must be modernised. Many people would make the Army a career if there was proper accommodation. I know many who have spent more than 21 years in the Army and many more would continue for that length of service if accommodation was improved.

It is gratifying to know that the standard of recruitment has been maintained and that the equipment of the Army is modern. It is good to know that there is a recognition, with regard to transport, that the quick movement of troops in proper vehicles is vital. I hope that there will be an improvement in the Air Corps for reconnaissance purposes. This is vital because the combined forces must work together in any situation if it is to be brought under control rapidly.

The extra provision for the Estimate is necessary. The taxpayer who grumbles about extra taxation to provide for his own security should realise that that taxation has to be imposed while the internal security of the country might be questioned by some people. It is the intention of the Government and of the Minister for Defence in particular to provide him with that security. I conclude by complimenting the Minister on the maintenance of a high standard of morale within all ranks of the Army.

First of all, I want to compliment the Minister. Nobody on any side of the House will disagree about the efficiency of the Army. The Minister is doing a good job. I want to praise also the Fianna Fáil spokesman on Defence for the interest he has taken in the Army. As Opposition spokesman on Defence he has dealt with the Estimate in depth. It is obvious that both the Minister and Deputy Dowling take an interest in their respective tasks. The Minister has to answer to the House for Defence and the Opposition spokesman must take a keen interest in the matter.

I hope that what I have to say will be helpful. I do not want to be critical. It is my view that in peace-time or in time of emergency we need an army. Those who advocated that we should not have an army adopted a defeatist attitude. It is not the size of the Army that matters. The morale of the Army and the way it was trained and equipped stood us in good stead during the emergency. If we had not had the Army it would have been quite easy for anybody to invade us. As long as we have a well-equipped and well-trained Army it will not be possible for anyone to invade us and to hope to remain here.

I am delighted that arrangements are being made so that members of the Army can equip themselves educationally and technically to give better service while in the Army and to improve their prospects on their return to civilian life.

We are getting a good type of person into the Army. I did not know a great deal about the regular Army but I knew quite a lot about the FCA. I am glad that the Minister has praised the FCA. The FCA is a voluntary organisation that was formed during the war years. It was composed of persons who while continuing their civilian occupations submitted themselves to rigorous training in the FCA for the defence of the nation. I should like to pay special tribute to the FCA. They have done a great job and they are becoming increasingly efficient, even since my time in the FCA. Training is better now. It is a force of which we can be very proud. I hope the FCA will be continued and that it will remain as efficient as it is at present.

I am very interested in the Army Equitation School and the Army Jumping Team which I believe to be the showpiece of the Army. I would emphasise that horses which are not capable of jumping well should not be shown in public. The horses used by the Army Jumping Team are supposed to be the best in the country and it is important that the highest standards should be maintained.

I should like to endorse what Deputy Dowling said about promotional opportunities in the Army. There may be some element of snobbery in the Army. I would not like that. There should be nothing to prevent an ordinary private who has the necessary ability from becoming Chief of Staff. In any walk in life the man who starts at the bottom and works his way up becomes the best manager. The man who starts as a private in the Army and who has the ability to work his way up will become the best Chief of Staff. People should not be pitch-forked into jobs. I realise that a certain standard of education is required but promotional opportunities should be provided for all ranks.

I am delighted that arrangements have been made for the purchase of another vessel for fishery protection. At the moment there is not adequate protection. If we get the fishery limits which we are hoping to get we will not be able to protect them. Every effort should be made to protect our shores against illegal fishing. Fishing is becoming increasingly important. I do not intend to discuss this industry on this Estimate. I merely mention in passing the importance of fisheries protection. We require more boats and bigger boats for the protection of our fisheries.

Since I became a Deputy I have made repeated reference to the members of the Old IRA who are in receipt of the special allowance. When a recipient of this allowance dies the allowance dies with him. The special allowance is given on the basis of the circumstances of the person. The military service pension is granted on the basis of service irrespective of circumstances. When the man dies the allowance ceases. I would ask the Minister to continue the allowance to the widow.

With regard to the Old IRA, these men are dying out gradually. They gave great service to the country and they deserve to be honoured for that service. I was at the funeral recently of an Old IRA man and there was no flag on the coffin and no firing party. A survey should be carried out by the Department of these people— it should be a simple matter because it merely means checking on recipients of pensions and allowances—and when these people die the Department should take the initiative and supply the flag and the firing party. Where there is an alert organisation or a public representative who is interested, the flag and the firing party will be there but, if there is no one to bother, no honours will be paid. To me, that is very wrong. These people are entitled to full military honours.

I am a long way from the Border but I have heard complaints about British troops crossing the Border. They seem to be bad map readers or, perhaps, they want to be bad map readers. All that happens is that they are told to go back across the Border. I believe they should be prosecuted. We cannot go in and they should not be allowed to come in here either. A very dangerous situation could develop. No British personnel should be put on Border duty unless they are competent map readers. I would like the Minister to take note of this.

We have a good Army doing a good job. Our spokesman on Defence has gone into the Estimate in detail. The Army is in good shape. We ought to be very proud of it. A good type is joining the Army. The sporting facilities are excellent. Unfortunately, there are complaints about quarters. The Minister mentioned the erection of 50 houses. I know one cannot do everything overnight and an effort is being made to solve the problem.

Where the jumping team is concerned there should be no suspicion even of class distinction. Any man, from private upwards, should be on that team if he is a competent horseman. There are people who query the existence of the Army and the need for it. While we have an army nobody will invade this country because it is easy to take us but it is very hard to hold us.

I compliment the Minister on the way in which he has tackled his job and the energy he has put into it. We were reaching the stage where people were reluctant to join the Army. There seemed to be no opportunities in an Army career. The Minister has taken the Army out of the doldrums and the Army is now taking its rightful place.

Hear, hear.

The Minister did not hesitate to station the Army at various centres throughout the country. He was quite right in this approach. It has helped the Army and it has helped the areas in which the Army is stationed.

It is only right we should pay tribute to the generous contribution made by the FCA. Those fine young men volunteered for service without any thought of reward. The country owes them a great deal. Some did not appreciate the effort these young men made. Week after week they went to the various centres to train and be disciplined so that they would be prepared to play their part if called upon. If an emergency arose they were there to render service. We owe a lot to those people.

One thing that has given the Army a boost is the increase in remuneration. The Army was regarded as an inferior type of job at one time because remuneration was very low and this did not encourage people to join up. Down in Manorhamilton I have been talking to some of these men who are back in the Army, having left because the pay was not sufficient. They are very happy to be back because they are well looked after and well paid. They also spoke highly of the new, improved uniform they are wearing today. It gives the young soldier an air of confidence in himself when he steps out in the comfortable uniform which is provided for him now. It is good that we are keeping up with the times where our young soldiers and officers are concerned. Over the past 35 years nothing much was done for the Army. The Army horse-jumping team and the Army band were the only units that figured prominently and we did not hear or see much of the rank and file. I suppose we should not be critical because there was very little money available in those days, but now we are moving in the right direction.

It is a great help to any town to have an army centre in it because the money that is paid to the personnel is spent locally. The next thing that is required is adequate housing for the young Army men who are getting married and who are going to live in this centre and rear a family. I am sure the Minister will not lose sight of this need for housing.

I have known many fine boys who joined the Army and came out well trained and capable of taking over good positions in civilian life. They could go into the building business or take up jobs as mechanics or as drivers. I know the Minister will pursue this policy of training Army personnel in this way for the future.

When an emergency arises and when very dangerous operations have to be carried out our Army are always there. They can carry out sea rescue operations by helicopter and can save the lives of many people when they are threatened with danger. It is very common to see a helicopter taking a patient, say, from Manorhamilton to Dublin or conveying a patient from Sligo hospital to another hospital in Dublin or elsewhere, and these helicopters have the advantage of being able to come right down to the hospital door. That is a very valuable contribution the Army are making to the community.

The world was watching our Army in the days when they went to the Congo and to many other countries overseas and gave a very fine account of themselves. I am sorry to say that one of those brave young men who was stationed at Sligo—I forget what his rank was but his name was O'Sullivan—died only last week. Some of those boys paid with their lives to serve this country. I know this will continue and that there will always be good young lads to take their place. Every encouragement should be given to young boys to join the Army. It makes men of them and prepares them for life after they leave the Army. The scales of pay should be advertised and brought to the notice of young people.

On two or three occasions I was asked to make representations to the Minister for Defence that the Army be allowed to take part in a St. Patrick's parade in Sligo or at festivals of agricultural shows in Manorhamilton. If peace was restored in this country, it would be a good thing for these centres to have such participation by the Army on these occasions. It would bring the Army more to the notice of the public and would add flavour to the event concerned. I would ask the Minister to consider this point.

I would like to make a plea for the dependants of Army personnel who may retire or who may pass on through illness and leave a wife and family after them. A woman might find herself without any allowance if her husband dies. I expect that the Minister has improved the situation but in the past a woman whose husband died after 23 or 24 years' service found herself without any allowance. If that has not already been rectified, I hope the Minister will do something about it. There is a small group of people who continually make contact with elected representatives, that is, some Old IRA men.

Nobody knows more about those representations than the Minister. I strongly recommend that the Minister consider any borderline cases and give them a special disability allowance. Some of those men made fine contributions to the freedom of this country. When they came back to civilian life many of them got good financial situations. Some of them had good businesses, others were farmers and so on, and did not need assistance nor did they ask for any. As the years passed, they found they were not able to manage as well as they expected. A small number of these men now hopefully expect that the Minister will give them a special disability allowance to supplement their old age pension or other income. I brought many of these cases to the notice of the Minister and I recommend that any borderline cases receive this allowance.

Once again, I compliment the Minister for doing a very good job. He has not hesitated to travel the length and breadth of the 26 Counties to do his job.

It is a long time since I felt I should intervene in a debate of this nature for the simple reason that if one has been involved in a specific area in the past, one can get rather set ideas and seek to impose them on people who are moving with the times. It is, therefore, with a certain amount of diffidence that I want to make a general comment on defence and our Army. If I should be open to the old charge of thinking in terms of the last war, all I can say is that I am trying to overcome that natural handicap of age.

I want to talk about defence in a general context, in a way which, I hope, will be helpful. Before so doing, I should like to join with others who admire the way our Army has progressed and who are re-assured to find that a certain spirit of service and dedication still exists in our defence organisation, both on the civil and military sides. This has happened in an age when, unfortunately, in many other areas of human activity, that same sense of responsibility, loyalty and spirit of service, are all too often conspicuous by their absence. It is not an exaggeration or a formal tribute to our Department of Defence embracing both the military and civilian sides, to say that by keeping with the times they have remained responsibly true to their traditions.

That, perhaps, is the most sincere compliment that can be paid in general terms. Anybody who thinks for a moment must realise that with the outside world as it is, that all the disorders—I am thinking not so much now of violence or even social disorder, I am thinking of individual disorder, the disorder in our thinking, the disorder that is in humanity, this tendency, especially among the young, where everybody does their own "thing",—have made it very difficult to harness the young people who were brought up in that contaminated atmosphere to meet the requirements of the Defence Forces. The greatest tribute that can be paid to the Department—I am using the word "Department", as I have emphasised, to embrace both the military and civil elements, that is, all the areas over which the Minister presides—is that they have been able over the years to absorb, train, impress the spirit and maintain the morale of the people in the service. When one reflects on this, one can be justly proud of our Army. It measures up to the yardstick of today and to the yardstick of yesterday.

I could go into details which naturally concern Deputies about the welfare of troops and soldiers, their conditions, accommodation and so forth, but this has already been discussed by other Deputies. If I do not labour it, it is because it has already been said. I join in the exhortations to the Minister in whatever regard is necessary. In my view, in a debate like this, we should pause and go a little further, to be neither content by applauding what is good nor criticising details which, in our opinion could be bettered, adjusted or corrected, or making various suggestions in certain cases. Instead of doing all that, we should occasionally look at the broader aspect. That is what I would like to do today. I take it that it is in order in an Estimate of this nature to deal with the general policy of defence.

What are our Defence Forces there for? They are primarily an organisation to give physical protection as far as possible to our people and our community. That fundamental concept remains even though during a period after the war, particularly in the 1950s, there was a lot of talk about peace; armies, in the old sense, were obsolete, and so forth. Sad experience is proving, however, that neither humanity nor the demand for defence forces have changed but that it remains in the last words of the introduction to the classic work of Foch on the principles of war, "It always remains necessary to establish the principles of war." That is tragic but it remains a fact and it is the basic reason for the existence of defence forces.

Perhaps it might be well to pause here for a moment and speak on one point. In today's world and, particularly, in our local situation, the role of defence forces very often is what used to be called "in aid of the civil power". This is a very important role and it justifies currently the strength and activities of our Defence Forces, making it easier for a government to maintain the numbers and find the finance necessary. But in the long term it would be a mistake merely to regard our Defence Forces as armed auxiliaries, so to speak, to the Garda Síochána. Although that is the practical task of the moment, it is a narrow view which should be broadened. Before I conclude I hope to give a reason for this assertion. However, in this role of supporting the Garda and providing for the security problems of the moment the Army are performing a proper and necessary function and, so far as one can judge, are providing the service excellently. In making that remark I am hopeful that what I have to say in no way contradicts the use of the Defence Forces in this concept. Rather, it would be my wish that what I have to say will be regarded as a broadening of the concept, a widening of our focus regarding the defence problem.

As I have said, defence forces are a tragic necessity in the modern world. After the first world war which was to end all wars there was the optimistic approach to life whereby there was talk of disarmament and matters of that nature but it transpired that all such laudable activities as disarmament and diplomatic negotiations, while they may have held off the evil day, in so far as they inhibited the facing up to realities and the preparation for such realities, they brought on the world a second world war. My fear today is that the all pervasive corrosive liberalism of the western world which to a large extent has destroyed the moral of that western world, coupled with the lack of order and discipline that is so apparent everywhere else—but which I am glad to say still exist in the Department about which we are talking—would seem in the light of history and of the way things are going, to be conspiring in somewhat the same direction.

I regret that despite the events of very good, dedicated and devoted people everywhere we are not moving towards a peaceful Utopia. In the area in which we are there is an element of demoralisation which is somewhat frightening and in which there is the suggestion of the decay of a civilisation. Therefore, the old Latin maxim, si vis pacem parabellum, appears to be forced again on everyone in the world. These are disturbing thoughts. Anyone with any semblance of sanity would not wish these thoughts to arise but simply because they are so horrible, so detestable, can we afford to deny all reality of them?

During the 30-year period since the last war there have been wars and rumours of wars from Korea onwards. Then there is all over the world what we are experiencing here, not organised war, but the break-up of war and disruptive and murderous violence. There were wars in the Middle East. When one conflict quietens down another erupts somewhere else like a volcano and all the time there are great powers who are maintaining large bodies of military forces, backed by a diabolical technology, mobilising in camps on the surface of this globe which, in human terms, is contracting. Whether one takes the great land mass that lies between the Far East and the West or whether one takes the western continent, the situation is the same. Then, it is perturbing for us to dwell on the apparent demoralisation of our western democratic society. Where will it all lead?

I will not delay the House with an analysis. I will just make this remark. Before the last war it was thought that gas and chemical warfare would be the dominating factor in the war that was to come but it was not. A very horrible war came, but gas or chemical warfare was not used to any great extent. We have been hearing of nuclear war and nuclear weapons. They are as much a reality as gas was before the last war. One must admit that the potentialities of chemical warfare undoubtedly put brakes on the rushing of powers into war before 1939. In the period since the last war the potentialities of nuclear warfare have fortunately acted as a deterrent. It is disturbing to find now that those who have studied the problem find the build-up of conventional forces in certain areas posing a new situation. One does not want to be too detailed about specifics when one realises where we fit into the scheme of things. I am merely interested in the problem we have to face. It is out of place to talk about the great powers of the world and their operations.

Things are changing. In the continent of Africa there are people who are young in civilisation with the vigour and ruthlessness of youth as against the decadence of a lot of the west. From an area in the west there is now an injection into that continent which completely alters the situation and the likelihood of how a conflagration can break out.

Would Deputy de Valerta pause and realise what he is saying? Where is the conflagration?

I will concede one point to the Deputy. I could delay too long if I gave all the reasons for what I want to say specifically on the Estimate. It is because those things are not being adverted to that I want to indicate the necessary background to the remarks I want to make on the Estimates. There are a few factors in relation to this matter which could be considered. There is an intervention in a most unforeseen way in the African continent. There have been unforeseen developments of violence and situations changing towards war all over the world. On top of that the experts see the greatest threat not in the nuclear weapons and all those things, as was seen before the last war in relation to gas, but in the build-up of the conventional forces. I will leave my background at that.

This is an occasion where one should consider, although I am not suggesting that the matter is proximate, what would be the position of a country like this? We are small but we are not isolated. The chances of being isolated grow less and less. What would the position of this country be if we were encompassed, in the words of the psalmist in straits, by a worsening situation? We have to realise our size and our role. I know it is very easy to say that we are so small that we will do nothing. Before the last war that, unfortunately was very often said. On the other hand, before the last war a lot of preparation was done, partly without being directly conscious of the defence need. In our case God helped those who helped themselves.

I suggest that we alert to certain problems which can develop in certain circumstances and in the broadest context of defence, the protection of the community, I want to focus attention on a couple of points. Before the last war our economic policy influenced a few things, our approach to fuel and food production and also the Defence Forces were given an opportunity from 1937 onwards to improve their organisation and equipment. There was also a good deal of attention given to the development of reserves. Therefore, when the crisis came in 1939 and 1940 we were in a position to survive. However, problems developed then. The problems were specific to the time but we must consider the nature of the type of thing which is likely to occur and we must try to be ready for it.

That is the type of philosophy in which I am trying to approach this matter. I am not attempting in any way to suggest what might in the more narrow sense be called a defence policy. I am talking about simple precautionary organisation and preparation. It is too easy merely to think of defence, especially if you are concerned mainly with a security role, as something like a tactical operation such as one reads about. One must have behind this the defence of the community. The first thing to consider is food. I will be specific now. I do not want to be an alarmist or to put my views forward as if there was a doomsday situation around the corner.

I would like the Minister to take this as taking the opportunity to say something which should be said at any time. I believe it is part of the defence of any community to think about the first requirement of survival, the feeding of that community. In a defence situation, that becomes the job not only of the Army quartermaster but also of the Government for the community. Consideration of that problem is vital for defence staffs. Therefore, I mention food.

If ever it should appear that the situation is deteriorating and it is necessary to consider the defence problem as a live problem, the Department of Defence should be in a position to help the Minister of the day to play his role so that the Government of the day can co-ordinate the whole question of food supplies.

Is the Deputy alluding to the transfer of arms and guns from Naas to the North of Ireland as his Party did?

Deputy de Valera must be allowed to make his own contribution.

I could say something but I will not. After that interjection which, I confess, I do not understand——

Does the Deputy want guns transported?

Deputy Coughlan must cease interrupting.

I was talking about food. I am suggesting that the Department should consider the mechanism by which the Minister of the day can achieve co-ordination with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Departments concerned with transport and supply to look after that fundamental requirement and the other specific provisions which would have to be made. This is something which can easily be forgotten at the early stages, and could be an emergency problem, as we know from past experience.

In exactly the same way there is the question of fuel. During the last war we were fortunate, accidentally to a large extent, in that under both these heads actual preparations had been made. I am suggesting that accidental circumstances may not always help, and the situation may be more complex. Our energy resources should be reviewed by the Minister's Department with a view to co-ordination in an emergency situation.

We will ship the guns.

I do not say co-ordination in a narrow sense. I mean co-ordination leaving all options open. Supplies are most likely to be disrupted.

I refer the Deputy to Deputy Haughey, Deputy Blaney and Deputy Gibbons.

Deputy Coughlan must cease interrupting.

Let us get back to the Estimate.

I will not listen to nonsense.

The question of supplies is more complex and more likely to be unpredictable. It is certain to be difficult. Flexible consideration of this problem is desirable. I urge the Minister to see that the strength of the staffs is adequate for these purposes. There is no need for a great commitment. One could overdo the commitment in regard to numbers or activities.

I have mentioned food, fuel and supplies. Transport and communications are two other headings. Transport comes much nearer to the actual operations of the Department and the Defence Forces. Whether it is on land, sea or in the air, the liaison between all the transport resources of the State and the Minister's Department, and their possible role, should be kept under constant survey, even for security purposes. I am sure this is being done. It is very desirable that there should be a constant and ongoing review, and that the necessary routine contacts should be maintained.

The same thing goes for communications of every nature, international as well as internal. Lastly, the industrial resources of the country should be surveyed and kept within purview. This is all basic staff work. It is remote to the extent that it should not be a preoccupation. It would be undesirable to get one's priorities all wrong but the past experience of this and other democracies is that it could be postponed too long. The obvious solution is to have some staff, both civil and military, establishing the necessary liaison in the broader field, taking a broad view and constantly anticipating problems as far as possible, without going into too much detail, and without evaporating—and there is this danger—into a theoretical sphere of imagination which, perhaps, in some ways, could be more dangerous than not looking at the problem at all. A balance is called for.

These are the first phases. I will come to the technology of it afterwards. Food, fuel, supplies, transport, communications and general industrial liaison are the considerations. This is the right approach in the broader context I tried to indicate earlier. It will also be of very material help in the security problem. In saying these things I am not faulting the Defence Forces or the Department. I am merely using the occasion to call attention to the matter.

Debate adjourned.