Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Army Apprentices' Accommodation.

1.

asked the Minister for Defence in respect of each of the past five years, the number of Army apprentices (a) accommodated in Army Barracks and (b) boarded out; in relation to the Army accommodation available for apprentices the nature of the accommodation, for example, if it is dormitory or single rooms; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Limerick West): The number of apprentices in the Permanent Defence Force using military accommodation on 31 December for each of the last five years was as follows: 1987, 183; 1986, 193; 1985, 246; 1984, 223; 1983, 206.

No apprentices have been boarded outside military barracks.

Dormitory accommodation exists at the Army Apprentice School, Devoy Barracks, Naas, while double room facilities are provided at the Air Corps Apprentice School, Baldonnel.

Where did the Minister say that the double room accommodation was available? Was it only in Baldonnel?

(Limerick West): It was in Baldonnel, yes.

In reply to a question with regard to female apprentices the Minister said that accommodation was not available. Could double room accommodation not be made available for female apprentices just as it is for male apprentices?

(Limerick West): The question does not seem to relate to what I was asked. I was not asked about males or about females. I was asked about accommodation that is available.

There is no accommodation for females. There is only accommodation for males. I am asking the Minister, if this accommodation is available and suitable for male apprentices, is there any reason why similar accommodation could not be made available for female apprentices, as the lack of accommodation was the reason given why female apprentices could not be taken on.

(Limerick West): If it is necessary, the accommodation can be provided. It is important that apprentices are catered for within the training area because the normal daily routine of apprentices undergoing training starts at 7 a.m. and part of the training of apprentices provides for compulsory study on three nights of the week. Of course, personnel are also required to undertake a certain amount of military duties. Another important consideration is the fact that apprentices may be as young as 16 years of age on enlistment and as they come from different parts of the country they would not be able to return home at night. For those reasons and many others it would be impractical to allow apprentices to live out.

The Minister said if necessary the accommodation could be made available. Does the Minister agree that should his Department decide in the future to enlist female apprentices, accommodation would not present a difficulty and that the Department could easily undertake the necessary work to provide accommodation for them?

(Limerick West): Every aspect is looked at on an ongoing basis. We have to take budgetary constraints into account as well as the demand at any one time in any one area of the Defence Force.

I want to move on to a further question.

Will the Minister have the situation with regard to female apprentices reviewed and will he look at the question of accommodation, which seems to be the main problem with regard to recruiting female apprentices?

(Limerick West): I assure the Deputy that all aspects of the Defence Force are under constant review.