Na Rialacháin um Thoghcháin Údarás na Gaeltachta, 1979, ina nDréacht: Tairiscint. - Defence (Amendment) Bill, 1979: Second and Subsequent Stages.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Defence (Amendment) Bill, 1979 is designed to amend the existing Defence Acts so as to provide in an express way for the enlistment of women into the Defence Forces, the appointment of women as officers of the Defence Forces and certain other connected matters. It is, accordingly, the fulfilment of the Government's undertaking to establish a Women's Service Corps, the organisational basis of which I now propose to outline.

The only specific provision in the Defence Act, 1954, for the admission of women to the Defence Forces is that which establishes the Army Nursing Service. While this service is an integral part of the Defence Forces its members do not serve in the mainstream of military life as they are not, for obvious reasons, required to undertake ordinary military duties and are not subject to the military code of discipline. The Bill now before the House is, therefore, the first legislative measure in the history of the State designed to admit to the Defence Forces a body of women soldiers who will have the same legal liabilities as men and will be integrated with their male colleagues in forming the modern Army.

Since this will be such a radical departure from tradition it was desirable that the most painstaking examination of all its aspects should be carried out. Accordingly my Department have given the most careful consideration to the question of how women might best be introduced into the hitherto exclusively male military environment. As a result of this examination, in which I have taken a very personal interest, I have come to the conclusion that it is only by offering women a career which will allow them to participate in the fullest possible way in military life and activities that they will be enabled to find a level of career satisfaction commensurate with their aspirations and their undoubted abilities. I intend, therefore, that, subject to their exemption in normal circumstances from combatant status, women will be employed in a most comprehensive range of military duties. Important and worthwhile appointments are available for them and there is absolutely no intention of adopting a policy of employing women in obscure areas of activity or on tasks which might be regarded as menial or subservient. I would be most concerned that this assurance is clearly understood by all women who are interested in joining the Defence Forces.

As regards entry to the forces and conditions of service generally the position is that enlistment will be open to both married and single applicants and with, one important exception, the conditions for enlistment and discharge will be the same as those which apply to men. The exception I have mentioned is a recognition of the importance which our society attaches to family life and the care of children and will take the form of a provision in Defence Force Regulations that women who wish to do so will be allowed to terminate their military service on marriage or pregnancy or for related domestic reasons. Paid maternity leave will be available to female personnel on the same basis as applies elsewhere in the civil service. There will be no differentiation as between men and women in rates of pay and allowances. I intend to provide an attractive uniform and I will ensure that there will be a good standard of accommodation available. This will be done either by adapting existing buildings where practicable—and work has already commenced in this area—or by erecting new buildings as part of the ongoing programme of providing better standards of accommodation for Defence Force personnel generally.

In order to ensure that there will be well organised facilities and personnel to look after the reception, training and welfare of the first general intake of recruits it is envisaged that a small number of specially selected women officers will be appointed initially and given a period of familiarisation and training. If it is possible, the intention is that some of these will be women with previous military experience who will fill the key appointments of director and training officers. The appointment of this initial group will be undertaken as soon as practicable following the passage of the Bill and general recruitment will be initiated as soon thereafter as circumstances permit. It is firmly intended that, with the minimum possible delay, the presence of women throughout the Defence Forces will be expanded to a significant degree. According as numbers increase, deployment of women to appointments in every one of the four Commands will be stepped up.

Tá traidisiún againn anseo de mhnáimh a bhain clú agus cáil amach de thoradh a gcuid gníomhartha. Is féidir linn bheith mórtasach as mná cróga Chumainn na mBan agus tá cáil faoi leith tuillte ag gníomhartha an Chuntaois Markievicz dár ndóigh. Gan aon amhras tá na tréithe a chruthaigh na mná siúd chomh bríomhar inniu agus a raibh riamh agus tá a lán muinín agam mar sin as éifeacht na mban atá chun teacht isteach ins na Fórsaí Cosanta. Tá súil agam go bhfuil na tairiscintí sa Bhille soiléir anois agus molaim don Seanad é dá réir sin.

It is not appropriate for me to start developing any generalised views on the whole question of women in anything, but specially and expressly I welcome this Bill as a remedy against one of the injustices imposed on women by many societies. But I regret having to say to the Chair and to the Minister that I find it a little condescending for the Minister to say of the career proposed that it is one which will allow them to participate in the fullest possible way in military life and activities and that they will be enabled to find a level of career satisfaction commensurate with their aspirations and their undoubted abilities. Glory be to God, are we still at the point of thinking that, whatever the differences between male and female, the physiological aspects are capable of being developed to different degrees of eloquence by different Senators? The psychological factors are very real also, but the nature of the injustice in the treatment through many centuries in many societies is such that I find I can adopt the words which I take from a recent publication by a German theologian, who was good enough to write it in English for me:

A most harmful power in the world is male power or sexism.

If I may go on to quote, on the Defence Forces Bill, he proceeds:

As early as the Book of Genesis we are shown that the domineering attitude of man over woman is a result of sin and alienation and continues to embody sinfulness in the world.

That is, Genesis, verses 3 to 16. It is important to say this. I am glad to note the reference, in the last words of the Minister's speech, to the Countess Markievicz. I do not think it necessary to remind the House of the earlier and very much greater Joan of Arc whom Shaw said had the realism of Napoleon and the capacity to maintain her intent until the other fellow was beaten every bit as real as Napoleon had. I do not wish to harp upon it, but it is a little condescending to be talking of the careers of women being commensurate with their aspirations and their undoubted ability. One female Senator has been described as the best Senator in this House by somebody. I was present when the words were used and I felt it like a flash of pain upon my back. But if there is any serious competition for placing her there it comes from her own sex. So much for the male reference to the female's undoubted abilities. I trust that the policy of adjusting this matter—I have a point on that which will apply not merely to this Bill but to many other situations of this kind, that there is a general's baton, or whatever is the modern equivalent to the marshal's baton, in every woman's knapsack——

And handbag.

Senator Murphy can be very funny sometimes, but not always. I do not find that funny because men carry handbags, very sensibly, in certain places when there are a lot of unpleasant other men around and unpleasant women too. Let us not get this wrong either. I hope that the highest places in the Army are available in the manner in which this is constructed. I do not understand the reference to the exemption from combatant status. I do not see the necessity for this, I wish immediately to say that it is not merely a question of simply what they call family life. It is the infinitely more precious thing of the relationship between the mother and child, the closest unity known psychologically to man, that must be borne in mind in relation to combatant status or any other thing that woman is free to choose to do. I would like to end with a repetition of what I intended to be a compliment to the Minister in relation to this Bill, the direction in which it is going. I am glad that Senator Robinson has just come in. It would be inappropriate on her arrival to quote Kipling that the female of this species is more deadly than the male.

I want to direct the House's attention, please, to the word "justice" and the first four letters in that word "j, u, s, t,". These letters are, I believe, exactly the same letters and have the same meaning as the letters "j, u, s, t" which appear in "adjustment". I would like to put the view that the correction of injustice is a question also of timing. It is a question of how quickly do you make an adjustment? If you decided at 12 midnight that all the clocks should be put back by four hours you would have to wait for a few hours to do it.

There is always a time for doing things. There is always a matter of judgment involved or the question of the speed of change. All you can do is recognise something to be wrong. The cost of putting it right is to be borne. Let us see how to judge how this cost should be borne. After the enactment of this Bill we do not need a new Countess Markievicz to take over the Army. Long before compulsory literacy Joan of Arc was able to wield very astonishing power. I dare to say that in the presence of Senator Murphy. Therefore, the timing of any changes is important on the matter of doing justice. We should recognise the injustice of sexism. We want to put it right. We must know that it is a cultural matter, there is a cultural carry forward and a psychological structure in other people affected by that, who will not understand because there is limited understanding.

I would like to welcome this Bill and I am delighted to see it brought before the House by the Minister. It is appropriate that women should play their role in the Defence Forces just as men do. There is, as the Minister has said, a long tradition in this country of women playing a role in relation to Cumann na mBan and also the Minister has mentioned Countess Markievicz. Recently we have had the nursing service which has integrated so well as part of the Defence Forces. In today's conditions particularly, where you have very modern, very sophisticated equipment of all types, not just sheer physical sloggery, there is no reason why women should not play an effective role if they so wish and it is on a volunteer basis that we are talking. Women are taking their part in every other aspect of national life. It is just and appropriate that they should have, if they so wish, the opportunity of playing a role in relation to our Defence Forces as well. I am sure that it will be a very beneficial and very useful role.

There are many examples elsewhere. In Britain there is the Women's Royal Naval Service, the Royal Army Corps and the Women's Royal Air Force. They are an integral part of the British defence forces serving both in Britain and with British overseas forces. As well as that, they have the nursing services and women members of the forces, the same as men, have the opportunity of serving up to 22 years either on active service or on the reserve. Women are involved both in the regular army itself and in the territorial army as volunteers as well.

Without going into all the details but taking, for example, the Women's Royal Army Corps in Britain, women's employment extends right across communications, motor transport as well as the sort of clerical and catering duties which the men do and should do as well. They also occupy intelligence positions and they take part in the staff headquarters matters. They play a role right through the armed forces in Britain and this role is constantly being enlarged. I was glad to read the statement on the Defence Estimates for 1979, paragraph 404, which emphasised the progress which has been made in integrating the organisation, training and employment of members of the Women's Royal Naval Service into the Royal Navy and in equalising their conditions of service as far as possible. They have an ongoing study on the wider employment of the Women's Royal Army Corps which is nearing completion and as part of this and in continuance of the policy of employing women as widely as possible in the Royal Air Force, present policies are under examination with a view to permitting them into the Army and Royal Air Force for defensive purposes only. The Royal Navy have no plans for arming the Women's Royal Naval Service. Male nurses are to be incorporated into the RAF nursing service. This is just an example of what is going on in Britain.

In the States, of course, there is a very large component. The authorised women's establishment in the US Forces is over 48,000 and very few practical problems have arisen. They are recognised now to have played a very valuable role both at home and overseas. This role includes the US Navy, where women now serve in many of the technical branches of sea-going vessels. Again, there is no reason nowadays, when many sophisticated pieces of apparatus exist, that women should not do these jobs as well as men and have the opportunity of doing so. Where women have been given this opportunity they are certainly showing that they are more than capable of doing it perfectly well.

There are many other examples elsewhere. The Minister will know from his recent visit to the Middle East that in Israel there is compulsory service for women. Single women from 18 to 26 years undergo compulsory military service and they remain on the reserves until they are aged 34. Again, there have been very few problems and the women in the Israeli army have played a very valuable role which has encompassed all military duties other than direct combat responsibility.

A more extreme example is the Soviet Union where during World War II women played quite a major combat role although this is not perhaps fully recognised. I am sure we have no intentions in that regard but I hope, other than that, the Minister will see that women officers and women soldiers in our Army have every possible opportunity to compete on equal terms with men both for posting and for promotion. I hope that our women soldiers have the opportunity also of serving overseas just like the men. I am delighted to welcome this Bill.

I do not propose to steal my colleague's thunder, here on my right, but I just want to say a few words. What strikes me about the Bill is that it is extremely vague. It tells us very little indeed and the Minister's statement tells us a great deal more. Why is that so? For example, there is no reference in the Bill, as far as I can make out, to the question of combatancy or non-combatancy nor is there a reference in the Bill to the Women's Service Corps which is mentioned in the first paragraph of the Minister's statement. It is very difficult to talk about the Bill itself because it tells us so little about what is actually proposed. Of course, one welcomes the general principle of the introduction of women into the Defence Forces but as has already been pointed out there is a certain tone of condescension in the statement and I am sure women are very concerned as to how far this condescension will be translated into hard realities, cash, promotion, and so forth.

With regard to the question of combatancy, I see no reason whatsoever why women, if they want to be involved in the part of a real army, should not be willing to undertake combatant roles. As has already been suggested, it is an historic tradition before modern man perhaps began to relegate woman to what he deems to be her proper place. It is a fine heroic Irish tradition stretching all the way from Queen Maeve to Granuaile and on to Countess Markievicz and to the various formidable women who were to be found mostly, I am afraid, on the anti-Treaty side in the revolutionary period.

The question of combatancy is a serious one, not, indeed, that one hopes that any member of an Irish Army will ever be engaged in any kind of aggressive combatancy, that we would ever be committed to making war on our fellow men and women. To the extent that frontline risks exist for our soldiers in peace-keeping operations and in security operations within the State then I see no reason whatsoever why women should not undertake these roles as well as the more perhaps stereotyped roles envisaged for them. Here is the crunch point, of course: can the women really be integrated into the Army? The phrase is used in the second paragraph of the Minister's speech. Can the women be taken seriously by their male colleagues in the Army unless they have the opportunity of fulfilling all roles which are open to them in Army life and unless they are paid and promoted accordingly? There is the crunch. Are the women under this legislation to form a sexist regiment of their own or section of their own? Is their eligibility for promotion to stop short within their own terms of reference or are they going to have an equal crack at all levels of promotion which are now open to men? It is with some reservations and with these questions in my mind that I welcome in principle the introduction of women into our Defence Forces.

I believe I am talking as the only woman in the Oireachtas who has been in an army in another nation from private to commissioned rank seeing sights which I hope nobody else will see. We were non-combatant. At first I thought when this Bill came that it was a good idea that women should be non-combatant but I must say now, thinking over my four years in the army, that probably what I was doing was as bad as pulling the trigger of a rifle. In fact, I was letting a man go to the front and I was taking his job at the back. I was on a searchlight site adjoining an anti-aircraft site. We were trying to find the aircraft and the men next to me were trying to shoot them down.

I feel in all conscience that that really is a comedy. I welcome this Bill very much. I am certain that this women's army will be as good as any other army in the world and as good as the army that I was in. I am still not sure about combatant and non-combatant status, but I want to say that this army will be a model army, and it will not be as it was 30 or 40 years ago when you actually saw what you did to your fellow man when you pulled a trigger or helped to pull a trigger. I would not want anyone to see what I have seen of bodies being blown to bits or people screaming with wounds in their stomachs. You could easily say that that is a brutalising thing but it brutalises men as well as women and maybe women have more sympathy to the sights that they see. I can say that seeing these horrors did not brutalise me. I am just as worried as I was before if I run over a dog or hen on the road. I am just as squeamish and just as likely to faint or be sick. I feel that if this women's army are to be a real army they should be, if necessary, combatant.

I would like to take up just one point, though, that Senator Murphy referred to. He said that if they were non-combatant perhaps they should not be paid as much as the men who are combatant. May I say that during that war in another place there were ten men who were non-combatant to the one who was in the field fighting and there was never any hassle about whether one should be paid more than another? The corporal doing the stores got the same as the corporal who was actually in the firing line and fighting. I do not think that is a very good point Senator Murphy made.

I am really thinking on my feet as I did not know that I was going to speak today. I feel that this women's army should be a full army and being full army means that they will pull the trigger. Nowadays it is not so much pulling the trigger, it is pressing a button and hoping they will not see the disaster they are causing. Hopefully this women's army will never be needed for anything like that but if they are the women could and should be fully combatant. It will not make them any more masculine, if men are frightened of that, it will not brutalise them. When you come out from that war, you come home never wanting to shoot a bird or hunt a fox. You never want to hurt anybody or anything because you have seen too much and, therefore, I ask the Minister to think about it. I welcome this Bill because it is very necessary. Women can play a full and proper part. I believe they will get an even chance. I am certain that after a year or two the men in the Army who may not be liking this very much will understand that women are equally able either to take up arms or do a job to release a man in the field.

I should, very briefly, like to welcome this Bill and indeed to wish the new ladies' corps every success. Many very important points already have been made in the debate. I look forward to seeing the fair sex play a very leading role in the defence of the nation. The only place that I have seen lady soldiers is in Israel. I met them there driving tanks and lorries a couple of years ago. They seem to be able to undertake every task with the same ability as their male counterparts.

I hope the Minister will be a little more generous when it comes to designing and providing smart uniforms for these girls. It is a crib in the Defence Forces, in the FCA more than in the permanent forces, that successive Governments and the Department have always been rather stingy when it came to providing the finance to provide good quality and smart looking uniforms for their personnel. If we are to have a ladies' section this detail will have to be attended to. We have the very smart uniforms of the Irish Army nurses who were all commissioned. They served the country and the forces well, as previous Senators have said, over the years. If we are to have all ranks, privates and corporals, the Department will have to come up with the finance and perhaps the style to equip these young ladies so that they will be able to be not only an asset to the force but a decoration to the force as well. I can see, once these young ladies get established, a great rush to join the armed services. I wish the Minister well in his recruitment drives.

The Bill itself is not very informative. The Minister does not go out of his way to point out the actual tasks the Department or the Minister has in mind for the first batch of recruits. He does not say whether they are to be stationed in every camp. I had the opportunity of visiting a number of Army camps in 1969. I know that at least one new camp has been provided, but the services and facilities available up to a few years ago were not great. I hope that the Department will be in a position to provide the proper services. I remember being involved in a hassle to get the Board of Works to provide more than one wash hand basin for the entire nursing staff in the Curragh. That is only two or three years ago. If we are now going to embark on bringing a new ladies' corps into the Army at least we have to provide all our soldiers, whether male or female, with at least hot as well as cold water in the washrooms.

There is nothing in the Bill about that. I see nothing in the Estimate for the Department for the provision of new facilities. The Minister should have given the Members of this House an opportunity of looking at the facilities across the country to see how suitable they are to take on any lady members of the forces, and how suitable the existing services are. There should be hot and cold water in every washroom in the State for the ordinary privates, corporals and every rank. When it took three years' agitation to provide a second wash-basin for the entire staff of nurses in the Curragh hospital I have my doubts whether or not the Department see any urgency in providing 1980 standards for members of our permanent Defence Forces. Nothing is being done to attract young girls into the permanent Defence Forces.

I am hoping that the Minister will be able to give the House an assurance that the facilities and the services available to these new recruits are up to modern standards, to the standards that people expect—indeed the standards they enjoy in their own homes. With those few reservations I welcome the Bill and I wish success to those who will opt to serve our country in this way.

I should like to say a few words of welcome for this Bill. I feel that I was somewhat responsible for the inclusion of the suggestion of this legislation in the policy document of some years ago. I congratulate the Minister on putting into operation some of the items that were outlined in that discussion document and indeed in the manifesto.

In this area there are many important items that have not been touched on. Many of the speakers have tended to speak about the role of the women's corps which is going to be an evolving role in any event but we should examine also the question of recruitment, of conditions of employment and, indeed, the question of retirement. We should have a look at some aspect of the situation in relation to each of those factors. Then we can come to realistic grips with the problem. The first consideration—and this was in my mind at the time the document was formulated—was that there would be a positive career structure. We have the advantage of knowing what has been the experience in other countries in which women have been engaged in the defence forces. One speaker here who has been a member of such a service could be of great assistance in the development of the service as a whole. It is important that there be a positive structure on which people coming into the service can base their future. It was all too sad to see people coming into the Defence Forces at times when the career structure was not as positive as it might have been, but that situation has changed. The career structure aspect has been modified and updated, with great credit to the Minister in the short period that he has been in the Department of Defence. People must know exactly what their opportunities are and how far those opportunities will go during the course of their service. We must ensure that during the course of their service there is the availability of technical training, of educational facilities and of leisure training and that there is scope for the fulfilment of whatever academic or cultural attachments recruits may have. We must think in terms of a much wider basis than, for instance, the pulling of triggers. There must be far more to this women's force than just the pulling of a trigger.

The cultivation of a career structure followed by periodic assessments will be necessary in the evolution of this service. The role of the service will evolve over a period, and in that period we will have to take all these positive factors into consideration so that on retirement women will be able to enter the labour market with positive updated trends to meet the requirements of the labour market in the future. It is not just as simple as saying "Bring them in, train them and let them out".

I am sure the Minister will be very concerned about the whole procedure from the day that people are brought into the service to the day they retire. Women can perform a very important and very practicable service in the force. Some aspects of that service have been outlined here today, but there are a great number of areas where women can participate in the future. One of the speakers mentioned the highly sophisticated equipment that is being brought in. We are moving into a computerised situation now in armed service, not alone here but elsewhere. In the future there will be highly-sophisticated, computerised armies both here and elsewhere. It is well on the cards that the boys in the Pentagon and in the Kremlin will be looking at the next war on television and directing the situation from the underground areas. There is the situation of the development equipment and the technical knowledge that will be required and of where women can play a very effective and positive role.

When we examine all the guidelines that have been laid down, or can be or will be laid down in the future, we will say that we can have something positive and something that we can be proud of to offer to the women who join the service. Women have many technical skills and are more adaptable to many areas than are the men who are in the Defence Forces. I could enumerate very many, having examined this matter in some detail in the past, but I am not going to bore the Minister. He is a practical and dedicated man and I know that he will take into consideration every problem that is presented to him and indeed every idea that is presented to him in the formulation of this force and in its evolution in a very positive way.

It is not only to make women trigger-happy that this service is being developed. It is being developed as a very practical unit, and we are going to give all the facilities to the occupants of the force that are necessary and desirable and within our reach. I was sorry to hear Senator McDonald speak in some of the terms in which he projected his views. They were not that complimentary. I visited almost every military barracks in the country and I found that the facilities had been increasing over the years, thanks to successive Ministers for Defence. I am glad to say that in a recent time I was in a barracks at which the Minister himself saw to it that major developments in order to meet modern requirements were speedily implemented.

When we have this type of situation with members and indeed Ministers there is no need for us to get excited about an odd situation that one may find in the entire military field where there may be some problems. There are problems, too, in Dáil Éireann, in Seanad Éireann and elsewhere. There are problems among parties, problems among people and problems among families. We all have defects in some ways. When we all have personal defects, apart altogether from party defects and family defects, we are bound to find some defects in some barracks in the country, but it is unfair of Senator McDonald to pick out one situation. If he presents that situation to the Minister, I am sure it will be speedily rectified.

In relation to the other aspects of the women's corps—the area of training—the question of the development of their skills and the attainment of higher educational awards, where necessary, will play a large part in the future. There should be facilities for anyone who might wish to further her education while serving in the force. The officers have the opportunity of attending universities in various places, and I hope that the Minister in due course will spell out that these opportunities will be available also to those who join the women's corps. In the area of physical education, too, it is important that the women will be able to avail of the full range of facilities in order to enable them to attain the highest possible performances in the sport of their choice or in the area of their choice in relation to physical education. There are such opportunities for existing members of the Defence Forces but we now have a new opportunity to perfect even more mature and more sophisticated physical training courses. Indeed, it has been pointed out that some members of the Defence Forces are on the verge of Olympic distinction. There is no reason why other members also should not be on the verge of Olympic distinction. I think that with the facilities, the training opportunities and a future properly planned and understood, we can meet a situation in which there is a vacuum at the moment. The overspill will certainly help the defence forces.

Members of the force must be encouraged, too, to develop their artistic or cultural inclinations. It would be regrettable that women joining the force would neglect any area of artistic or cultural activity in which they had been interested. They should be given the opportunity not only to develop whatever talents they may have but to pass on such talents to others.

In the area of career welfare, members can play a very important and involved part. I will mention just one or two such areas but I will communicate with the Minister further in this regard. I am confident that he will consider all ideas put to him in regard to this matter.

At the moment we are sadly lacking in the area of career welfare. Perhaps it would be more advantageous to have women rather than men advise the wives of service men on the many problems that one encounters in the performance of military duties. This is an area where women who have had specialised training in the welfare field can contribute much.

There are many other areas, too, where the service can and must get full recognition. The question of apprenticeship and job training is important. As we have the apprenticeship schools in Casement and in Naas, there is no reason in the future for not having an extension of these schools or having other schools to cater for the needs of the members of the force. In the past it was all too sad to see many ex-service men ending their days working on petrol pumps. It was a sad reflection on the State that this should happen to men who served this nation so wisely and well. That is why we must be in a position to equip the Defence Forces with the additional knowledge and skill to meet an ever-changing labour market. It will be important that women in the future who have spent a considerable period within the Defence Forces would have at the end of their service an updating and a training to meet the technical changes that will take place in the labour market. In this way we can ensure that when they retire they will be able to find positions way up the ladder which would be their rightful place having served the nation.

It is all too sad to see so many people who are written off as failures, having completed their service to this nation. I hope that this attitude will change. We now have an opportunity to do something very positive to ensure that there is a positive link between recruitment and retirement that there are suitable job opportunities at the end of the period of service.

I would see nothing wrong with members being given the additional opportunity of on-the-job training outside for industry or elsewhere for possibly the last six months or so of their service so as to give them the type of recognition and the type of assistance that we would all like to see them have.

There are very many areas indeed that one could teach on. The equitation school has been mentioned. In the Nation's Cup and in various other competitions there are just as many females now participating as there are men. I hope that the equitation school will not be closed to the lady members of the Defence Forces.

The whole question of women needs consideration in relation to other problems, too, because women have problems that are quite different from those which men have when it comes to military service. There is the question for instance of married women being eligible for service. There is the question of the assistance that will be given in relation to educational training to dependants of members of the Defence Forces who are either killed, die or are injured in service. We have to take a very positive responsibility here. If we are to attract married women into our defence forces, we must have regard to these other responsibilities that would follow. A woman may be married or widowed or her husband may be disabled. There may be a number of different groupings but we will have to sort out these and ensure that whatever problems develop, particularly in relation to family upbringing, we will cover them the same as they are covered in many other areas. We have many responsibilities that we should be undertaking in relation to service now, responsibilities that we have not taken account of in the past. We have the opportunity now of doing something in a very positive and real way, in developing a force and in projecting a role and a policy in relation to that force that we can all be fully proud of.

From time to time there should be assessment to find out how weak or how strong are the members in various areas so that they would get assistance and guidance in order to ensure that they could equip themselves to meet the future in a very positive and real way. If they have defects or if they have difficulties, we should ensure that, having given their service to the nation, we would lend this helping hand to ensure that these difficulties are overcome.

I congratulate the Minister for the speed with which he has brought this measure forward. I know it is a measure which requires in-depth thinking and investigation. Indeed, the Minister has been moving right along such lines since he assumed office. I look forward to an enthusiastic response to the recruitment drive for women to join the Defence Forces.

It is usual to welcome Bills which are considered, as is this one considered apparently by all Senators, to be non-controversial. I have to admit that I have such mixed feelings about it that I could not possibly give it an unqualified welcome. On the one hand, as a woman I resent the exclusion of women from any area of activity in which they wish to engage. On the other hand—and this is the source of my great hesitation about this Bill—I feel no attachment of any kind to any Army. I also have suspicions as to the motives for the introduction of this Bill, and I am inclined to give the Minister the benefit of the doubt and say that high among his motives would be to undo a wrong that has been done to women in the past in excluding them from this area. However, I also understand there is a grave shortage of manpower in the Army and that there is dissatisfaction among the men with doing lots of jobs that have to be done. That might be another motive. The Minister will have to forgive me for suspicions like this, because women have become a very suspicious lot of people in this country and have had good reason to be so.

I am glad that this Bill recognises the injustice of keeping women away from a job which they may or may not want to do. It is indicative to me of certain attitudes towards women that a lot of Senators seem to have difficulty in using the word women. There is only one person in this House who might be properly described as a lady and the rest of us are women or females, and I have noticed this again and again. There seems to be great difficulty in calling a spade a spade.

Despite the permission which is now going to be given to women to join the Army I hope they will not want to join the Army. I hope they will not flock to the jobs that will be available to them because I believe, to use the Minister's words, that "the male military environment" has very little to do with women or very little to offer to women. It never had. Women were never part of that scene, despite the so-called glorious history of Maeve and Grainne and Countess Markievicz. We can remember them because they were the exceptions, but women were never as a rule engaged in that kind of aggressive activity. Despite the fact that our Army is certainly not cast in an aggressive, imperialistic, combative role, the Oxford Dictionary definition of an army is "an organised body of men armed for war". That is what an army means, and war is legitimised violence. It is destruction which is given legitimacy. It is about death. War has always been a man's business.

Senator Goulding in her excellent, too short, but absolutely excellent contribution demonstrated the schizophrenia which we all feel about armies nowadays and in particular about what armies actually do and what they are there for. Senator Goulding spoke about feeling that she was combatant. She spoke about the fact that beside her were people pressing buttons or pointing guns to bring other people to their death. She spoke in very feeling terms about the things she had seen and which she hopes none of us will ever see, but the fact that we do not see them does not mean they are not happening. The new and modern weapons make them happen to far more people, often in even more horrible ways that they ever happened before. That seems to me to be a sort of double think that we all have about the role of an army, and I would question a situation of women wanting to subscribe to the values which spend such incredible amounts of the world's wealth on warfare, on weaponry and on the whole manpower for military purposes. It might be no harm to remind women who may consider volunteering for this corps that four days of the world's military spending could feed 2,000 million of the world's undernourished children for a year. We must keep that figure in our minds.

In this extraordinary rush and perennial aggressive army combat business the underdeveloped countries are now rushing to spend, and many of them are spending up to 40 per cent of their GNP on armaments. The spending on these armaments is totally detrimental to the social development of those countries, and to even feeding their own people. I question whether the military aggression which makes one country build up an army because other countries have armies is a game that women want to get into.

When the Taoiseach spoke to the United Nations last year he denounced the arms race, and he said that nations who build up destructive armaments in an effort to secure national security did not succeed in doing so because it was illusory. One country which builds up an army damages her own situation because other people have to build up armies to cope with it and the crazy spiral goes on.

I am quite aware that our own Army could not be cast in the role of the United States army, which may be at the point where sometime it might happen that somebody will press a button and finish us all off. Our Army would not be able to do very much about that. We must re-think what we are talking about. Women should watch the television advertisements which are encouraging men into the Army at the moment. These advertisements have been mentioned earlier this evening. They are very glamorous advertisements which have obviously been designed with all the skill of the expensive advertising agency. We have Beethoven's Fifth jolting out of people all jazzed up and the aeroplanes and the tanks and the guns and the men springing into action. My ten year old thinks it is absolutely fantastic, and he wants to be in there as part of the game. His sister regards it as an extension of his war game that he plays and is amused by it. What are those advertisements telling these young boys? Are they telling them that they may be emptying the dustbins if the dustbin services break down, a very important service but hardly resembling the advertisements; that they will be patrolling the Border which is a long, dark boring sort of job with very little to do with combat? Are they telling them that they will be guarding various installations which are essential to the security of the country and that they will be keeping people in military custody, which is something that we should not be having anyway, acting as prison guards? The role our Army has does not resemble what the advertisements portray.

For a variety of reasons I feel that, I for one, cannot welcome this Bill as ending discrimination against women, because I feel that women who thoughtlessly do so are forgetting that in the search for equality and in the search for self-fulfilment which is what basically the women's movement is about we do not wish to turn into men and that we do not wish to take on the less admirable features of male society as well as the those features that we may consider admirable.

What exactly is the training of soldiers in the Army designed to do? Which element of it is designed to make them aggressive? Which element is designed to knock the softness out of them, or to knock the corners off them, or to make them conform to a certain idea? I was interested recently—I say this in all seriousness and I do not wish to raise any hares—to notice in a recent publication by the AIM Group that they mentioned the fact specifically that they were perturbed by so many Army personnel figuring among the statistics of battering husbands. It jumped out of the page at me. I was wondering, since it was so extraordinary, could it have anything to do with the training these people get in the Army. I am not saying for one moment that training makes men violent and therefore they go home and beat their wives. We have to ask those kind of questions when we are talking about introducing women into an army who will get similar training to men.

Sweden has recently introduced a law which prohibits the sale of any war toys of any kind in any shops on the grounds that, if you talk about universal peace while you simultaneously place facsimiles of deadly weapons in the hands of children, you are suffering from a general schizophrenia. They have banned the sale of all facsimile toys of offensive weapons. What would they think of our advertisements encouraging young people into the army? I do not have the answers to all these questions about the Army's role, about women and their role. I feel that they must be asked. Our peace-keeping input with United Nations forces is an admirably and totally suitable field of operations for any people to be involved in. That is a very good part for our Army. However, it does not necessitate the very large facade which it seems to me we have of a combat trained, armed force. We should examine the role of the Army.

Women may wish to join the Army. I hope they will not. I will not be encouraging anybody I know to do so, but if they wish to join the Army, we certainly must make sure that they will do so to fulfil whatever role they feel they want to fulfil in that Army. There certainly are suspicions arising from some of the wording of some of the statements that have been made, particularly, I am sorry to say, by the Fine Gael spokesman in the other House to the effect that if men do not want the jobs, or if it would be easier to get women to do jobs to free men for work that the men really want to do, then by all means, get the women in. There has been that kind of thinking in public statements outside the Oireachtas and inside it. That is extremely regrettable. We know that the Defence Forces are excluded from the Employment Equality Act. Therefore, it is extremely important that the rights of the women who go into the Army will be safeguarded.

There are other aspects to safeguarding the rights of women who will want to go into the Army. The Army does not seem to me to be designed to be an offensive force. It has a rescue role, and a public service role, and it has a role of training people in a very wide area of technical knowledge and skill. The Minister has already made it clear that women will be given full equality in the training for those skills, and I welcome that very much. We need to know a little more about the problems which will arise on the question of married quarters and the equal treatment of married women and married men in the Army. Differences are quite often made there based on the assumption that a married woman's needs are somehow less than a married man's needs, and she gets less favourable treatment. The Minister mentioned maternity leave. I am very pleased he did so, but what about paternity leave? This is an aspect which is left out of equality legislation. When maternity leave is mentioned, nobody ever mentions paternity leave. Every child has a mother and a father and it is very important to remember that. We have not mentioned either the question of married women soldiers who have children. What creche facilities does the Minister envisage?

There is a situation in which ex-Army men are allowed to have paid leave with allowances for periods of annual training for whatever work they take up after they leave the Army. We must ask the Minister will this also apply to women. Will they also be given that sort of facility to have annual leave from their jobs for training periods on an annual basis? Many Senators and, indeed, many Deputies went into some detail about the protection of women and the opportunities for women if they decide to go into the Army. I agree with all that, and the Minister is so aware of it already that I will not go into it any more.

I will conclude simply by saying that Irish women may not want to go into the Army as we know it because of the deception and the schizophrenia and the problems we all face about what exactly the Army is. I wish to emphasise their right to go into the Army and I hope their rights will be fully protected.

I wish to make a few points only. In welcoming the Bill, I view it first of all as a constructive step in providing new career opportunities for women in the mainstream of our modern Army. Secondly, to those who would like to see more in the Bill at this time, it should be emphasised that it is a first step, and only a first step. By carefully monitoring progress it should lead to employing women so as to maximise their contributions throughout the full range of the Defence Forces.

Finally, certainly I do not share Senator FitzGerald's opinion that the reference by the Minister to enabling women "to find a level of career satisfaction commensurate with their aspirations and their undoubted abilities" is condescending. Too often, it seems to me, in both male and female employment, the nature of work involved falls far short of people's capabilities, especially in modern industrial employment. The subject matter of this Bill provides a new and valuable opportunity to provide fulfilling and meaningful careers for women.

I would extend a very qualified welcome to this Bill. I share a number of the reservations Senator Hussey expressed. The reality is that we have an Army. The Constitution entitles us to raise and maintain an Army and in the foreseeable future we will have an Army. Hopefully we will have it for defensive purposes and for purposes of peacekeeping in both an Irish context and abroad where this is necessary.

The Bill the Minister introduced today is worrying because it does not contain any real control over the kind of role women will have in the Army. It is very much of an enabling measure which achieves the basic objective of ensuring that there will not be sex discrimination in recruitment, that it will be possible to recruit women into the various grades in the Army.

What worries me is that in the Minister's contribution on the Bill in the other House he had very detailed and very specific proposals relating to the creation of the Women's Corps. It seems to me as though he has discovered or ascertained a shortfall within the Army, decided that there are a certain number of places, and that this will coincide with the number of women to be recruited to the Women's Corps. I am not saying this is the only reason he is doing it, but there seems to be a great deal of coincidence between the places which he identifies as being suitable for women, as he puts it, and the number he will recruit. I will make that specific by referring to the Minister's contribution in Volume 316, column 515, of the Official Report of 23 October where he said:

I should like to tell the House that 233 existing appointments for noncommissioned personnel and 39 for officers have been ear-marked as suitable for women. An additional six new officers and one NCO appointment will be required for administration. The only addition to the existing establishment within the force is the creation of six new posts for officers and one new NCO post.

The Minister then went on to identify where the appointments will be centred:

The 279 appointments will be allocated throughout the commands along the following lines: in the Eastern Command, which includes Army Headquarters and the Air Corps, 116; in the Curragh Command, 84; in the Southern Command, 39 and in the Western Command, 40. The six new officer appointments consist of a director, a training officer and four command welfare officers.

Later, at column 516, the Minister said:

Of the 279 women it is intended to recruit into the force 45 will be officers, 103 NCOs and 131 privates.

It is all worked out to a very specific degree. The Minister may say it had to be very carefully thought out and worked out but the emphasis is on identifying posts which will be "earmarked as suitable for women", whatever that may mean in practice. These are new posts being created. There is not a positive decision to create a new Women's Army Corps which involves the creation of new posts side by side and on equal terms with posts already existing in the Army for the manpower which the Army has at the time of the decision. It is a question of filling gaps, of placing people in positions that are already there but vacant. What worries me about that is that the intention seems to be to recruit women into the Defence Forces to fill a need felt at the moment in the Defence Forces, that there will not be much opportunity for the women who respond to the advertisements and seek a career in the Army, whether as officers or as ordinary members of the Defence Forces, to have much say in what kind of career they would like in the Army. It appears they will not have an opportunity of expressing a view on whether they should be combatant or noncombatant forces. That is foreclosed by a decision of the Government.

To what extent has there been any attempt to allow a Women's Service Corps to evolve as the kind of defence corps which women applying to join the Army want? The Minister referred to their career structure, but he does not seem to be opening up a career structure. He seems to be filling defined positions already allocated and to be doing it very specifically. There is nothing about this in the Bill. The Minister could give more details in his reply as to how he intends to go about this. How does he intend to achieve the position of having a number of women officers who already have military experience? Will they be Irish? Where will they have got the military experience? He said in his opening speech: "the intention is that some of these will be women of previous military experience who will fill the key appointments of Director and Training Officers." Perhaps he could explain how he intends to recruit these, or if they are already recruited, and how, in turn, it is intended to recruit the applicants for what are obviously known places already. It is not a general recruitment on the basis of creating new posts, but rather to fill posts which exist apart from the six new officers.

It would be impossible to comment even briefly on the Bill without referring to accommodation and the kind of provision that will be made. The Minister said:

I intend to provide an attractive uniform and I will ensure that there will be a good standard of accommodation available.

A number of Senators referred to accommodation, particularly married accommodation, in the Army. I can only speak for the Cathal Brugha Barracks married quarters. The accommodation there is deplorable and very little has been done in the past four or five years to improve it. Anybody who goes there gets one long saga of misery. Most of the families there seem to be on the housing list for a very long period of time. The view expressed to me from door to door in the married quarters is that the only way to get rehoused is for the husband to leave the Army, and apparently this is contributing to a substantial drop-out rate, partly because of the pressure of the housing problem. I do not want to exaggerate this problem, or to undermine morale, but with my own eyes I have seen, and with my own ears I have heard of, the unhappiness of the women and their families in the married quarters in the Cathal Brugha Barracks.

I should like to know what the Minister has in mind for that specific barracks. I know there are plans and I know the Minister visited there not so long ago but nothing seems to come of it. Meanwhile, the women there who have large families have no facilities for young children. There are no play and no preschool facilities within the barracks. There is a lot of ground there but it is not organised for these children. The women seem to be very depressed because they do not feel they can speak out about the bad conditions in which they find themselves. They are dissuaded by their husbands from complaining about the conditions. I understand that when a number of women came to Leinster House to complain to the Minister, their husbands were made to feel that if this ever happened again it would cause trouble for them. In this atmosphere of depression, and a feeling that it is not possible to voice complaints, can the Minister deliver on his commitment to ensure that a good standard of accommodation is available? I appreciate that this has to be a gradual process, that there are problems involved, and that there is a major housing crisis in Dublin.

I still feel that if the married quarters in Cathal Brugha Barracks are typical of married quarters for the Defence Forces, they are not being well accommodated or well served by us as a people. We should be taking much more radical steps to improve the standards of the quarters and also to improve the community surrounds of those quarters. Many women and children are there all day while the men are engaged in their Army duties. They are alone and bottled up with their problems. They are depressed. The children seem to have a very high rate of illness, of continuous visits to doctors and hospitals, and there seems to be a cycle of depression and despair which they do not appear to be able to break out of.

If we are talking about accommodation for women who will be either officers or members of the Army this will require a great deal of thinking about. It seems to me—and a number of Senators mentioned this—that a good deal of the general accommodation would not be very suitable for a mixed force, if I could put it that way, and presumably there has to be a considerable amount of physical adaptation for this reason.

I would welcome further information from the Minister as to how the recruitment of women will take place given that, certainly initially, in building up the women's corps it is, if I understand his contribution in the other House, to fill posts that are already there and vacant, what the rate of filling these posts will be, and how they will go about it, and so on. On the question of equality of basic pay, this appears to be secured by the Bill before us, but there can be a very great difference between basic pay and overall remuneration, which can be greatly augmented by the possibility of security duties. It seems to me that the most important views to be sought on the question of taking part in security duties and getting additional pay for that are those of the women who will be recruited.

I should like to ask the Minister why the decision was taken to exclude women from security duties right across the board, and whether he is open to reconsidering this if the women who apply to join the Army have a completely different viewpoint themselves, and if they feel that it is in itself a discrimination which confines them to a certain number of what he described as posts earmarked as suitable for women. There can very easily be discrimination if you start earmarking posts as suitable for women and taking a fairly small quota of women into an existing army. So, as I say, there is a danger that these would be jobs that were not easy to fill within the existing resources. There is a danger that they will be a particular type of job, despite the Minister's strong affirmation that he does not intend that. I welcome his own strong views on the matter. There are dangers in practice as to how it will work out, and we really see no particular controls in this Bill. All we see is the removal of discrimination on the basis of sex, the opening up of the positions in the Army to the possibility of women being recruited, but all the rest is at an administrative level. It is to be administered within the Army. It will not come before this House, so all we can do is ask questions at this stage to ascertain what the position is and hope that the Minister will give us the fullest information on the matter.

I extend a qualified welcome to this Bill. So long as we have an Army, so long as it is the approach of countries that it is necessary to maintain a standing army, then it is right and proper that it should be open to both sexes. I am worried about the approach here when I read the details of what the Minister said in the other House about it, and I would welcome further clarification from him.

Slán go deo le brón is buairt,

Slán gan mhoill dar gcaoineadh dhuairc

Canam laoithe dochair mar——

The Minister said:

The Bill now before you is, therefore, the first legislative measure in the history of the State designed to admit to the Defence Forces a body of women soldiers who will have the same legal liabilities as men and will be integrated with their male colleagues in forming the modern Army.

Buíochas mór le Dia. Tá ard-áthas orm bheith ag labhairt anseo inniu ar an ócáid seo agus fáiltím ó chroí roimh an Bhille seo agus molaim an tAire as ucht an Bille a chur os ar gcomhair. Tá taithí agamsa leis na blianta anois agus ar feadh an chuid ba mhó de mo shaol bheith ag plé le scoláirí idir buachaillí agus cailini agus is maith is eol dóibh san an cumas atá sna mná idir óg agus mean aosta agus aosta. Tá buanna acu san nach bhfuil curtha i dtaití acu fós ins an tír seo agus má chuimhnimid anois, cuir i gcás ó thaobh cúrsaí an Airm, ar na gaiscí a dhein Cumann na mBan le linn Chogadh na Saoirse. Mura mbeadh Cumann na mBan ó thaobh airm, gunnaí agus mar sin de, a thógaint ó áit go háit i gan fhios do dhaoine, ó thaobh cabhrú leis na saighdiúirí, leis na h-óglaigh, seans nach bhféadfaimís cogadh na saoirse a bhuacaint in aon chor. Ó shin i leith do tháinig na mná óga, bail ó Dhia orthu, isteach sna Gardai, na ban ghardaí, agus tá sár obair á dhéanamh acu siúd. Ní amháin san ach faoi mar a tharlaíonn sna scoileanna cuirtear ana-éifeacht, ana-shlacht agus ana-ordú meanman ins an ton a bhíonn ins an scoil nó ins an mbearaic nó in aon áit in a mbíonn comhluadar na mban. Tá an-éifeacht ar fad ag na mná ar chúrsaí an tsaoil go háirithe nuair a bhíonn siad ag comhoibhriú leis na fir. An ghnáth-theaglach amuigh faoin dtuaith cuir i gcás anois, bíonn an t-athair agus an máthair agus na leanaí ag obair le chéile go nadúrtha.

I welcome this Bill very heartily and commend the Minister on bringing it before us. This is, indeed, an historic occasion for each and every one of us. Reference was made to our Army as being an Army of aggression. Just look at the name of the Army. We do not call them an Army of aggression. We do not even call them an Army. We call them the Defence Forces. They are there to defend our rights. We will be recruiting ladies or women. Did somebody call them spades? I do not think so; maybe it was a misunderstanding. At any rate nobody can object to the word mná. When the mná are recruited there will be a far better tone in the barracks. They have a wonderful influence where men are concerned. There is no doubt about that. At all the ages you can see that happening. They are well able to acquit themselves in discipline and in the use of arms, if necessary. I am sure nearly everybody here follows with great pleasure the adventures of Charlie's Angels from time to time. I certainly do and I enjoy them. They are three commendable young ladies.

What is badly wanted in every walk of life in this country is discipline. One of the ruinations of this State at the moment is the want of discipline in all areas. You cannot beat the sen-fhocal: "Ní bhionn an rath ach mar a bhionn an smacht." If they never learn anything else, young men and women in the Army will learn discipline. That will stand to them for the rest of their lives. I was thinking of the various vocations for women in the Army. I refer to the Army bands. I should like to see young women soldiers and officers taking part in the Army bands and in other such activities in the Army. I appeal to the Minister to do anything he possibly can to cultivate and make provision for more and more music in the Army. What we get from them is excellent. We are very grateful for that and I am sure the Minister will bear my suggestion in mind.

I will not detain the House any longer, but I must commend the Minister again. This is an historic occasion and I am very glad to have the privilege of speaking in this debate.

I should like to join other Members of the House in welcoming this Bill. As I understand it, the approach to this matter by the Minister and the Government is that women should be recruited to do the same kind of jobs, to have the same status, and to be paid the same as existing members of the Defence Forces. The approach is that there are certain duties to be carried out, certain functions to be carried out, and that it is appropriate at this stage that women should be asked to play a part in carrying out these duties. I disagree with what I understand to be Senator Robinson's observations in the suggestion that there should be a new women's corps to do a new kind of job, who would carry out certain functions which are not at present being carried out by the members of the Defence Forces. This would introduce an artificial women's corps. Senator Robinson seems to complain that the Minister is merely looking at the present position in the army, finding that there are certain jobs for which men are not available, and recruiting women to do these jobs.

The Minister's approach to the creation of a women's corps is proper and valid. It will mean that women will be doing jobs at present done by men and having the same status and the same remuneration for doing so. It will, of course, mean that eventually there will be greater opportunities for women. Although specific numbers may be recruited at this stage, as women become integrated into the army there is no reason at all why extra women should not be recruited and why we should not in due course have a much bigger percentage of women in the army compared with what is envisaged at this time. This approach will mean that there will be far greater opportunities for women as time goes on if they prove to be suitable for the jobs which will be given to them initially. I have no reason at all to doubt that they will prove to be eminently suitable for the duties to which they are assigned. I welcome this innovation and I have no doubt it will be extremely successful.

Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a gabháil do na Seanadóirí a labhair faoi an Bhille agus buiochas a gabháil leo siud a chur fáilte roimh an Bhille.

I thank the Senators who have spoken and in particular those who have welcomed the Bill. My experience in the other House was that there was unconditional support for the proposal to introduce a women's corps into the Defence Forces, and I am somewhat surprised that the welcome is less in the Seanad and has been qualified, and even more surprised that those who have qualified their welcome are two lady Senators who I thought would have supported my Bill which opens up opportunities for women in an area which had been denied to them since the State was founded. I would at this stage like to pay a special compliment to Senator Dowling who played a very large part in the decision of my party to bring forward this legislation. It was part of the Fianna Fail Election Manifesto in 1977 under the Defence heading, and for that reason also it gives me satisfaction that we are implementing that aspect of the manifesto on this occasion.

Senator Alexis FitzGerald, speaking on behalf of the Fine Gael Party, whether he was serious or not, felt that my opening comments were in some way condescending to women. I challenge that, and I would deny flatly that anything that I said was in any way condescending. I am seeking to provide an area of opportunity for women which has not been available up to now. I am not aware of any previous speeches by the Senator urging that this area should be opened up to women. I find it disturbing that he should seek to slight my comments and my work in this regard.

Whatever limitations Senators see in the proposal, let them at all times remember that these are only the initial steps. This is an introductory step and, naturally, we will gain in knowledge from the experience which will be obtained in the initial years. The reason why the Bill itself is so short and contains so little is that it requires only the legislative change to enable the enlistment of women. There was no need to provide any sections in the Bill other than changes in the Act which had been designed for a Defence Force which catered solely for male personnel, if one excludes the nursing service which does not have any military commitment. The administrative arrangements which will be necessary to implement this proposal will be done by way of regulation under the various Defence Acts, principally the 1954 Act.

I sought in the reply to the debate in the Dáil to give some detail so that the House and the Oireachtas in general would have an idea of the direction in which we were moving. I mentioned certain positions which had been earmarked or which would be deemed suitable for the women's corps when it is established merely to illustrate that quite a lot of thought had gone into the establishment of the corps prior to the legislation being brought forward and in anticipation of the Oireachtas accepting the legislation. Nothing that I said limits in any way the proposals in the future with regard to the appointment of women in various posts in the Army. The limitations that I see are purely the physical ones, and the policy decision at the moment is not to introduce women into a combat role, but this legislation has not barred them from the combat role. I am stating that it is not the policy of this Government, at this time, that women who will be enlisted into the Army will be employed in a combat role. It is, of course, possible to change that policy at any time in the future. Therefore, Senator FitzGerald need not have any fears regarding justice to the women members of the Defence Forces when they are enlisted. I made it clear in my introductory remarks that they will be subject to the same military code as men and will have equal opportunities of advancement.

As time goes by and knowledge and experience grow, the corps concept itself may be dropped. Again, it is merely the device by which we are introducing women to the Army. It is not intended that the women would be corralled in this corps and would be separate beings. I am seeking to integrate them throughout the Defence Forces as far as practicable in a complete equality situation. The training, as far as possible, will coincide with the training of recruits and of cadets. Whatever differences will exist will be to accommodate the physical difference involved which the House will have to accept.

As regard the question of the combat role, for every solider in the field there are at least two soldiers acting in a supplementary role, and in some armies the ratio has been known to go as high as nine or ten. The Irish Army structure is on a one-to-two ratio where the numbers trained and available for arms operation and a supplementary role is approximately one to two. That relates more or less to the type of structure obtaining in most modern armies throughout the world. I expect that at least in the initial stages in the part for which I am responsible women will play a valuable role with the men in this supporting role.

Senator Murphy and Senator FitzGerald questioned the decision not to involve women in a combat role. A lot of thought was given to that, and on full examination the decision was made and that is the decision at present. It also happens to be the decision in most other conventional armies that where women are enlisted they are not employed in a combat role at all. I am not aware of any army where they are employed on that basis at present. We would be indeed the exception rather than the rule if we were to seek to introduce them to that role now, especially in the initial stages. I hope that it will never transpire that it will be necessary to involve them in an aggressive role in operations under arms.

Senator Murphy also queried why the Bill did not say more about the women's corps and the non-combat role and I have explained that it was not necessary to state in the legislation itself that that is a matter of policy and regulation. We are only enabling the enlistment of women and that is all that is required in the Bill itself.

Senator McDonald referred to the question of the uniform and was very scathing in his criticism of Government in regard to the type of uniform which has been made available for enlisted personnel both in the Permanent Defence Forces and An Forsa Cosanta Aitiuil and was critical of the uniform. The Senator may not be aware that the FCA uniform is to be changed and substantial improvements are being made in it. The uniform available to serving Permanent Defence Force personnel has not been the subject of criticism in recent years as far as I am aware and as the Senator was not specific I cannot follow him down that road any further. Certainly I agree that the FCA uniform is most unsuitable.

The same Senator referred to the conditions in some of the barracks around the country and implied that conditions were very very bad, quoting some incident regarding a washhand basin in the Curragh. In the Dáil debate his colleague Deputy Creed also displayed ignorance of the conditions in the Defence Forces as they exist today. The invitation can be extended to any Member of the Oireachtas who wishes to avail of it to come and visit military establishments provided the appropriate permission is sought beforehand from the OCs of the barracks who would be very pleased to show Members of the Oireachtas the conditions which are obtaining. Maybe in that way Members of the House might become more acquainted with the substantial improvements that have taken place in barracks throughout the country in recent years. Of course a lot of work still remains to be done.

Senator Robinson referred to one area where I would agree wholeheartedly, with regard to the married quarters at Cathal Brugha barracks. She knows that I visited the barracks and that there are plans. She went on to say that nothing seems to come of it. That is not true.

The plans for the replacement of the married quarters at Cathal Brugha barracks have been finalised. There is a difficulty in implementing the replacement programme all at the one time. It has to be done on a phased basis so as to facilitate the construction of replacement dwellings on the same site.

When is it going to start?

The work is at an advanced stage. I have not had advance notice of the question but I could get the information for the Senator. The first block is about to start or has just started. It is at a very advanced stage, and that programme will continue. I admit that I was indeed shocked at the conditions I found at Cathal Brugha Barracks and certainly it is my intention to ensure that these married quarters will be demolished and in the shortest possible time be replaced with modern dwellings. For three-and-a-half years the Senator supported a party in Government and joined that party in Government which tolerated these conditions and that is nothing to be proud of. I am glad that she agrees with what I am doing.

I am certainly pleased that something is being done. It is very slow.

It is being done. There are a number of other locations where I would consider the accommodation as most unsuitable and I have stated on a number of occasions that it is my intention to seek to replace all unsuitable married accommodation in all barracks throughout the country, and a very extensive building programme has been undertaken. The planning of the replacement is well under way. Construction of a lot of new houses has already commenced and plans for others are in the pipeline. I see over a period of five years possibly the fulfilment of that commitment on my part to the replacement of all unsuitable married accommodation. It is probably a question of Members of the Oireachtas not being fully aware of what is being done, and I would be happy at any time to supply Deputies or Senators with information if they seek it.

Senator Robinson raised this question in the context of my commitment that adequate and suitable accommodation will be available for the women's service corps when women are being enlisted. This is a matter which needs very full and careful consideration. One of the few problems that face a Minister seeking to include women in the Defence Forces is the question of accommodation. They are entering into an environment which has been male orientated over the past 40 or 50 years, and all of a sudden we have to seek to provide accommodation for women. Without going into very great detail, which I doubt the House wants, I give an assurance that this aspect of the work is being attended to and a lot of preparatory work has been done on it. Locations where accommodation will be required have been identified throughout each command and they have all been listed and all of the OCs either have already taken steps or are about to take steps to make provision for the enlistment of women and the accommodation for them in their barrack areas.

The main recruiting will take place at the Curragh Camp, and there will be new billet and ancillary accommodation provided there for the training of women recruits. Work on that new building is expected to commence next year. Some Senators have queried why provision was not made in the Defence Estimates for this. I am sure Senators will realise that it is not possible to make provision in the Estimates in advance of legislation. I have tried to anticipate legislation and, as far as I can, to advance the matter prior to the legislation being passed, but it would not have been possible to have made substantial provision in last year's Estimates. I have sought and have obtained the authority from the Minister for Finance to proceed with the planning, and the planning in all cases is at a very advanced stage.

A number of Senators queried what type of employment would be available. Again, there is not a final commitment about any decisions that have been made or any indications as to where the members of the women's corps might be employed. The matter has to remain flexible and I have a very open mind on it. I did mention in the other House that there is a very large number of appointments in the Defence Forces and that 80 per cent of them would be suitable for women. Without going down through the long list, one could say that maybe all of them are suitable, provided that they are non-combatant type appointments. I certainly have no hang-ups, ideological, chauvinistic or otherwise, as to what is suitable or unsuitable for a woman. The only criteria that I am applying is that at the moment the policy is not to employ them in a combat role. I have mentioned some posts which have been identified, and these could be changed later on. Examples are military police, driver, printer, radio operator, cine-projectionist, groom, the equitation school—there is absolutely no reason why some of the women's corps should not be employed in that school, photographer, air traffic controller, telegraphists; the list goes on. I want to convince the Senator that it is not the intention that these women will be brought in to do the cooking which unfortunately a lot of males seem to think is the ideal type of employment for these women. Initially I will be overseeing this to ensure that nothing of that kind happens in the early stages. I will assure that there will be a fairly good spread of different types of appointments.

Even though the women will be attached to a corps, it is the intention to assign the members of that corps to different appointments in different commands throughout the country. Appointments will be available at Army Headquarters in Dublin, at Collins Barracks, Griffith Barracks, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Clancy Barracks, McKee Barracks, Baldonnel and Gormanston, all in the Eastern Command. In the Southern Command women will be appointed to posts at Collins Barracks, Cork and in the Western Command at Custume Barracks, Athlone and Dun Ui Mhaoiliosa, Galway. At the Curragh women will be appointed to positions in Ceannt Barracks, Clarke Barracks, McDonagh Barracks, the Military College, Plunkett Barracks, Devoy Barracks, Naas, Kildare Barracks, all in the Curragh Command area.

Senator Dowling referred to the educational opportunities, and I assure him and the House that the educational opportunities available to cadets and to the non-commissioned ranks will be without distinction as to women members, as also will be the opportunities for technical training which are associated with military service. Therefore, women having been recruited, passed out and appointed, will be in a position to avail of a variety of courses, some for a few weeks, some of which last for several months, in the same way as other recruits or young non-commissioned soldiers are availing of them up to now. In the case of cadets the entry educational requirements will be as laid down for male cadets, that is five subjects in the leaving certificate including two honours and two of the five subjects must be mathematics or maths/physics on the one hand or English or Irish on the other. It is the intention that the lady cadets will be able to go on and avail of third level education. Up to recent years it had been the practice that the cadets would do their third level education courses at University College, Galway. I have changed that in the sense that I wish to open up the educational opportunities to a much wider sphere of activity than the courses that are available in Galway.

It would be a retrograde step to continue to have a large number of BAs and B Comms as against the odd one doing engineering, science or other courses. There are courses in the Limerick College of Physical Education and in the regional technical colleges and I do not see any reason why cadets, if deemed suitable and they are agreeable, should not go on and do courses in those colleges. Already we have some cadets attending the college in Limerick and that may expand. People might be surprised that I am taking people away from the Galway college but it is for the benefit of the Army and it will, in the long run, prove very valuable.

Senator Dowling made reference to welfare duties. It is the intention to provide initally four additional officer appointments, one to each command, and the main task of these officers will be to cater for the personal welfare needs of military personnel, both male and female, and their families. The initial intake of officers mentioned in the Dail debate was two. I would like to change that now to possibly four, certainly the two that I mentioned, one to be the director of the women's corps who will hold the rank of commandant and one to hold the rank of captain and to be a training officer, plus two other training officers. Therefore, the initial intake of mature experienced officers on a short-term commission would be four. There may be difficulty in obtaining these people, but certainly it will be very beneficial to the proposal if we are able to enlist four such persons at an early date. Naturally if they are to have had military experience it will be necessary that they come from abroad, unless there is some lady living in Ireland at the moment who has had military experience and is of the rank or capabilities required to help initiate the women's corps. In the main, we expect that we will have to seek these people from abroad and so special conditions of employment will have to be drawn up initially just for them. Once that early stage is overcome there will be an intake of cadets who will integrate into the male cadet class.

Consideration is being given at the moment to putting four young cadets on a 12-months training course abroad so that we will have four experienced people appointed on a short-term basis. We will have four cadets with a certain educational standard who will be able to go abroad, do a 12-months course, come back, be commissioned and take up their role in the women's service corps of training and otherwise. As well as that there will be the introduction of female cadets into the ordinary cadet class.

The House will understand that if lady members of the cadet class were to come in next September they would not be available to the force for possibly four to five years. They would have to complete their commissioning course, their cadet course at the Curragh, and if they opted for third level education they could be away for a further three years. The implementation of all will obviously be slow. Once we have the initial training officers there will be no difficulty in starting off with the first recruiting class of around 20 recruits to be followed at the end of that training period by a further 20 recruits, so, within the first year, we should have possibly 50 members of the corps already enlisted.

Senator Hussey does an injustice in a number of the comments she made. She was not very generous in her comments. She said she owed no allegiance to any army, she has no attachment to any army. I am not too sure what she means, but I hope that all Members of the Oireachtas, and indeed all citizens, would appreciate the valuable role of the Army in modern society. I hope that Members of the Oireachtas, in particular, appreciate the absolute necessity for an efficient and loyal Army at this time. I would have hoped that Members of the Oireachtas would have some understanding of the onerous duties that members of the Army are asked to undertake, not just now and again, not just on a monthly basis but on a weekly basis and on a daily basis, so that the rest of the community can proceed about their business and that peace may reign in this land.

I am sure that all Members of the Seanad are aware of the dangers there are to democracy in this country, of the existence of subversive groups whose one ambition is to destroy the State that has been so carefully constructed since the State was founded. To ensure the continuance of the peaceful democracy we have come to know and love it is necessary for members of the security forces to do very onerous duties. In other words, when the community is in its bed there are men in the Army out on patrol who would be just as pleased to be at home with their families like the rest of the community. This is the reason why I have had to embark upon a recruiting campaign in recent months.

With the general improvement in the economic and employment position and the attraction for members of the Defence Forces to take up positions outside the Army on completion of their fixed period—the minimum period is three years—there has been a substantial increase in the numbers opting out. The overall strength of the Army was dropping. The further it dropped the more onerous the tasks were on those who were serving. That could lead to an absolutely intolerable situation. I appeal to those Senators who have an attachment to the Army, and to those who do not have an attachment to the Army, to recognise the importance of having men in the Defence Forces who are prepared to undertake the vigorous and rigorous duties they are called upon to do in order to ensure the community can carry on its ordinary day-to-day business in peace and without fear. It is a sad reflection on society that this is necessary.

Ours is a defence force. We have no imperialistic, aggressive intentions, and it is a force that is there to protect the community against external aggression. It is important that we maintain an efficient force as a deterrent against possible aggression from outside. It can be seen in the society in which we live today, small though it may be, and it must be contained. Our Army have succeeded successively, with the Garda force and the security forces in general, in containing a situation which could have been explosive, which could have led to disastrous results for this country. I would, therefore, make a personal appeal to all Senators to support the recruiting campaign, whether it is for males or females and that in any contacts they have with groups of people, whether they are young or old, they will at all times speak favourably about the Army, the conditions, display pride in it and encourage young people to join. Some are very anxious to make the Army their life-long career, and there are great opportunities for young men and now for young women to have a military career in the force. There are others who can give very valuable service on a short term, either for three years or for some other length of time. They can decide at the end of three years if they want to stay on.

Happily, the pay situation has been improved very substantially over the past two years and the allowances, which are also available, particularly for security duties and other special duties, now ensure that those who serve in the Defence Forces are paid a remuneration which compares very satisfactorily with anything that is available outside of the Defence Forces. I am happy that that is so. If there are any Members of the House who are in some doubt about the conditions in the barracks I would be happy if they would come forward and I would certainly arrange for them to have a look. There are places where there are bad conditions, but they will be shown that there are plans for improvement. In the main, the conditions are excellent, and that goes across the board, food, accommodation, clothes and the general facilities available. If there are any suggestions as to how they can be improved I would only be too pleased to know of them and to seek to implement them.

Senator Cranitch mentioned the Army School of Music. He will take it from the general tone of what I am saying that it is not intended to debar women from any of the various appointments available in the Army which are of a non-combatant role. The Bill, as it is being presented to the House, will permit of the enlistment of women into all sectors of the Defence Forces including the Army School of Music. When that will be done will depend on developments and how the corps develops. There is no question that they will be debarred from joining.

I am quite disturbed with Senator Hussey's contribution where she said she hoped that no women would join, but then, maybe I should not put too much weight on the words of one Senator, although I would have hoped for unanimity in this matter. If it is any discouragement to her, I would like to inform the House that I announced in the Dáil last week that there was a great interest among women. We had about 850 inquiries from women who wanted to know more about it and who expressed an interest in joining when recruiting started. Since I made that comment another 150 have made inquiries, so the figure is now 1,000. That would fill the establishment figure more than three times over. I am satisfied that we will be able to meet the establishment figure I have mentioned in the initial stages. Obviously there is plenty of room for growth.

Something new was mentioned, paternity leave. I am sure this is something we would all be very interested in. It must be accepted that in fixing the conditions of service of military personnel it is standard practice to take cognisance of the conditions that exist in other public service employments. Paternity leave, unfortunately, is not available elsewhere in the public service. Until such time as it is available, it would be inappropriate for Senators to suggest that it would be introduced in the Army.

An interesting point was raised by Senator Hussey in regard to attendance at annual training. It is a requirement of those who are members of the Reserve Defence Forces, that they come up for annual training. They are paid the going rate for whichever rank they hold during their period of training. This facility will, of course, be available to members of the women's service corps because, as provided for in the Bill they may be enlisted in the reserve Defence Forces and would also have that facility.

I want to deal with one point that Senator Robinson made. She implied that I had surveyed the Defence Forces and identified a number of vacancies that already existed, which might be suitable for members of the women's service corps, that I then earmarked these and decided that we will have a women's corps so that we can fill these vacancies. I fail to understand how anybody could make that point knowing that this commitment to establish the corps was in fact contained in an election manifesto and whatever vacancies existed back in 1975-76-77 would not necessarily be the same vacancies that would obtain now. A feature of Army life, with the availability of short-term enlistment, is that people who are serving today may have completed that service in three to four years' time and others may be occupying the positions that they held. There is a very big turnover of personnel. The vacancies which exist today do not necessarily exist tomorrow. I made the point in the Dáil to illustrate the fact that I was sincere or genuine about my proposal to bring the women in on an equal basis and to integrate them as far as possible. I would not go along with the suggestion made here that the women's service corps should be set up as a completely separate structure with a whole series of new appointments identified and allotted to it different from anything that already exists. That would be creating a kind of freak group within the Army who happen to be women and who could never succeed in gaining the confidence and the admiration of their colleagues in the force because they would be recognised as people who were being treated separately and differently. My plan and intention are that all will be treated equally as far as is practicable and there are positions, which are occupied now by men, which will in the future be occupied by women, that there will be an inter-action between these vacancies and that there will not be positions identified as women's jobs and others identified as men's jobs. I would rather see the situation, as far as is practicable, where the women and the men would inter-change between these positions, that they would be recognised as appointments in the Defence Forces, not male appointments or female appointments, that that distinction and designation would not be made.

I have covered many of the points that were raised. I would like to thank the Senators for the general tone of the debate. I had only one or two criticisms. These may be helpful and there may be some things that need attention in the future. I will certainly have a look at the other points that I may not have dealt with and deal with them in the best way possible. Again, I would like to thank the House for the reception given to the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

The next item is Senator Trevor West on the Adjournment. Before we move on to that could we have an indication as to when it is intended for the House to sit again?

Wednesday week at 2.30 p.m.