Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (434)

Clare Daly

Question:

434. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Defence the statutory basis upon which pensions and gratuities of former serving solders are being withheld in order to be offset against alleged debts for overholding; and if he has sought legal opinion on the legitimacy of same. [11536/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Under Defence Forces Regulations made in accordance with the Defence Acts 1954 as amended, married quarters were allocated to serving members of the Defence Forces in certain circumstances and a number of these serving personnel still occupy the quarters with their spouses and children. Where a serving member is in authorised occupation of such quarters, the Regulations provide for deductions to be made from pay in respect of the accommodation provided. On retirement or discharge from the Defence Forces a serving member ceases to be eligible to occupy quarters and is required to vacate the property previously allocated. Those that remain in unauthorised occupation, described as overholding, are liable in accordance with Defence Force Regulations to charges by way of compensation for the use of the quarters. In addition, they are liable to charges for electricity supplied to the quarters that they continue to overhold. Regarding former members of the Defence Forces who commenced overholding after October 2011 the charges for use of the property increase on a sliding scale, over the first six months of the unauthorised occupation of the quarters, by 100%.

The Regulations provide that such charges that become payable in respect of overholding be recovered by way of public debt from monies due to the former member of the Defence Forces or the estate of a deceased member as the case may be. Further, the Defence Forces (Pension) Scheme 1937 allows for deductions, from pension or gratuity, of monies owing to the Minister for Defence. In the case of the deductions being made from the pension entitlements of former PDF personnel who are overholding, my Department sought the advice of the Chief State Solicitors Office who confirmed that this was in order.