Friday, 16 September 2016

Questions (1959)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1959. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to increase numbers in the Reserve Defence Force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26293/16]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The White Paper on Defence (2015) set the overall establishment of the Reserve Defence Forces (RDF) at 4,169 personnel. As of the 31st July 2016, the latest date for which figures are available, the effective strength of the Reserve stood at 2,141 personnel. Recruitment campaigns for the RDF are conducted on an annual ongoing basis. The current Reserve Defence Forces (RDF) competition was launched on the 7th September 2015. It was the subject of an administrative pause on the 4 th April 2016 to facilitate a Permanent Defence Force (PDF) General Service Recruitment Campaign and was re - launched on 18 Jul 2016. Since then 1,026 applications for the Army Reserve and 224 for the Naval Service Reserve have been received. Of these, 713 Army Reserve and 194 Naval Service Reserve applicants have met the initial application criteria. The Defence Forces Brigades and the Naval Service are now processing these viable applications for the induction cycle (fitness testing, interviews, medicals).

I believe that the Reserve Defence Force is an important asset to the state. I value the contribution of all of its members who volunteer their time and service so willingly. I am fully committed to its future development. At present, and as adverted to above, Reserve Units are somewhat under-strength and a key priority is to recruit new members to the RDF in order to reach strength level targets.

The 2015 White Paper on Defence confirms that the primary role of the Reserve is to augment the Permanent Defence Force in times of crisis and to participate in ceremonial events.  The implementation of measures set out in the White Paper 2015 will provide opportunities for certain members of the RDF to undertake new duties. I am of the view that this, and other initiatives outlined in the White Paper will be a key motivating factor in encouraging more people to join the RDF as well as making it more attractive for current members to stay.