Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Army Married Quarters.

25.

asked the Minister for Defence if a specific sum of money will be made available through the Department of the Environment to rehouse former members of the Defence Forces at present overholding married quarters; if he will give details of the number of meetings he has had to discuss this problem; the number held by his predecessor; and the total number held since the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 16 of 26 October 1977; the result of such meetings; and how he plans to resolve the problem.

I informed the Deputy on 28 January and 19 February 1981 that I proposed to approach the Minister for the Environment with a view to having more accommodation made available for overholders. I have made such an approach and will have the outcome communicated to the Deputy in due course.

Would the Minister consider making a specific sum available to the local authorities concerned? This position is getting progressively worse, and rapidly so, and if the nettle is not grasped now the situation will get out of hand completely.

We are tackling the problem in the best way possible. We are having it examined.

How long would the examination take? I have been asking questions for years about Army accommodation and I have always been told it is under consideration but I have never been told the result of such examination.

I share the Deputy's concern and we will try to speed the matter up.

Will the Minister consider giving a specific sum to local authorities for this purpose?

I could not give such an undertaking.

26.

asked the Minister for Defence if he will undertake a study of the housing requirements of the married members of the Defence Forces and their children in order to ascertain if they are at present in rented or privately owned flats or houses; if he regards such a study as essential in order to plan for future requirements; and if he will indicate the criteria employed in formulating future requirements.

A board of officers was convened by the Quartermaster General in September 1980 to examine and make recommendations regarding requirements of men's married quarters at selected barracks and posts taking into account existing married quarters and their suitability. The board's report is expected to be available soon and will be taken into account when plans for the building of new married quarters are being considered.

As has been stated on many occasions in the past, the provision of housing is primarily a matter for local authorities and married soldiers have an equal claim on such housing with other members of the community in the same income group. The policy of my Department is to supplement the efforts of local authorities where soldiers' housing needs are greatest.

Is the Minister aware of the conditions in which Army personnel are being accommodated in city centre barracks, particularly in the north city centre? Would he be willing to meet a deputation from the local authority for the purpose of seeking funds to try to remedy this problem?

I share the Deputy's concern but I could not give a guarantee. I am sure the Minister for Defence would consider any such request.

Will the Minister consider meeting a deputation on behalf of those people who are trying to rear families in these abominable conditions?

If the Deputy will put down a question——

We are sufficiently adult to be able to deal with this now. Is the Minister prepared to meet a deputation? The Dáil will be going into recess——

If the Deputy will put down a question we will deal with it.

It shows how concerned the Minister is.

Will the Minister accept that the Minister for Defence has said in this House that this is a matter for the local authority, that his predecessor said in the House that Army personnel were not getting a fair crack of the whip, and would the Minister change the system entirely?

The answer is to provide more houses for all sectors of the community. That is what the Government are trying to do for people inside and outside the armed forces.

The fact remains that almost all married quarters in this city occupied by Army personnel have been condemned in a medical officer's report. How can the Minister say he is making progress?

He will not even meet a deputation to discuss the matter.

I did not say I would not meet them.

Cliché No. 2d.

27.

asked the Minister for Defence if he will introduce provisions on the sale and purchase of houses, similar to those available to the Garda as outlined by the Minister for Justice in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 264 of 27 November 1980, for members of the Defence Forces; and, if not, why, in view of the fact that members of the Defence Forces are subject to involuntary transfers.

Defence Force regulations, under which the pay and general conditions of the Defence Forces are prescribed, provide for recoupment of members of the Defence Forces in respect of expenses incurred by them on change of permanent station. These arrangements provide members of the Defence Forces with the same type of facilities as are available for other public service categories including the Garda Síochána.

Will the same transfer concessions be applied to Army personnel as to Garda?

The provisions for the Defence Forces are in line with arrangements available to the civil service.

I am asking the Minister if the concessions awarded to the Defence Forces for involuntary transfers are exactly the same as for the Garda Síochána?

I do not think they are exactly the same but they are quite similar.

Does the Minister accept that they should be equally attractive?

I accept that.