Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Questions (71)

Brendan Ryan


71. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the effective strength of the Reserve Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52902/17]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The White Paper on Defence confirms that the primary role of the Reserve is to augment the Permanent Defence Force in times of crisis. In non-crisis situations, the main focus will be on training to prepare for this role. The Government has also assigned a formal role to the Reserve of contributing to state ceremonial events. The Government appreciates the service of the members of the Reserve and the White Paper on Defence is clear that there is a continued requirement to retain and develop the Reserve.

The strength of the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve (as of 31 October 2017) was as follows:

- Army Reserve: 1,733 effective personnel

- Naval Service Reserve: 123 effective personnel.

I am aware that there is a shortfall between these figures and those of the establishment, which provides for 4,069 personnel. The most recent recruitment campaign for the Army Reserve and Naval Service began in July 2017 and attracted 1,221 applications. A total of 128 personnel have been inducted to the Reserve Defence Force in 2017 which is an increase of some 60% when compared to the 80 personnel inducted in 2016. The recruitment process has also been streamlined so as to make it more efficient.

Given the competing recruitment demands at present, where PDF recruitment is and should remain a priority, recruitment to the Reserve is continuing. However, it should be noted that the same personnel and resources are utilised for both Permanent and Reserve Defence Force recruitment and the recruitment of up to 800 Permanent Defence Force personnel this year obviously impacted on resource allocation.

Under the current phase of implementation of White Paper actions, two relate specifically to the RDF. One addresses the issue of improving the strength of the Reserve by attracting recruits from all backgrounds. The other action involves conducting a skills survey with a view to establishing a Specialist Reserve. Both of these are well advanced. In the medium term, over the 10 year lifespan of the White Paper, other projects relating to the development of the Reserve will also be examined and developed by the Defence Organisation.

I would like to assure the Deputy that I remain committed to the ongoing development of the RDF within the framework set out in the White Paper on Defence and having regard to resource availability.