Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Questions (136)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

136. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence in view of the fact that Defence Forces training falls into three broad categories, individual and crew skills, career training, and most especially collective training, and bearing in mind that one of the key elements of the policy of barracks closures was to consolidate large numbers of soldiers in fewer locations to increase the opportunities for the said collective training thereby leading to increased operational capability and greater quality of outputs, his views on whether the reorganisation of the Defence Forces means that soldiers are daily criss-crossing the country to plug operational manning deficiencies in other locations, mainly in Dublin, and that this is jeopardising training, is incurring unacceptable and unsustainable costs, further reducing depleted budgets and could result in further unplanned and unforeseen barrack closures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21827/14]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The reorganisation of the Defence Forces that was finalised in October 2012 resulted in a fundamental re-structuring of Army Formations and Units across the country including the closure of a number of posts to enhance operational readiness and deployability whilst reducing numbers involved in administration. The consolidation of the Defence Forces formations into a smaller number of locations is a key objective in the ongoing defence modernisation programme by becoming a more adaptable and flexible organisation. I am advised by the military authorities that the reorganisation has increased the opportunities for collective training and associated improved military capability. The reorganisation has not impacted on Defence Forces operations and all roles are being carried out in full. The closing and sale of surplus military properties has been very cost effective. For example, military personnel occupied on security and support functions within the four barracks closed on 30 March 2012 have been released for operational duties leading to an efficiency gain of around €5 million per annum. In addition, there are direct cash savings of approximately €1.3 million per annum arising from utilities, maintenance and security duty allowances in the four barracks. There are no plans for further Barrack closures.