Local Authority Expenditure

Questions (1)

James Browne

Question:

1. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach the percentage of GDP controlled by local authorities here. [40703/18]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The following table presents total expenditure of local government, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ireland and local government expenditure as a percentage of GDP for the years 2013 to 2017. 2017 is an estimate until the amalgamated Local Authority annual financial statement is available.

€ million

-

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Expenditure of Local Government 

6,496

5,517

5,881

6,368

6,494

GDP

179,922

195,293

262,466

273,238

294,110

Local Government Expenditure as % GDP

3.6%

2.8%

2.2%

2.3%

2.2%

Ministerial Communications

Questions (2)

Alan Kelly

Question:

2. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach if there is a policy regarding ministerial use of private email for Government business in his Department; and if so, if it will be published. [40673/18]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The Department of the Taoiseach has an ICT Policy which stipulates that where personal email accounts are used for business purposes, due regard must be taken of the sensitivity and confidentiality of the information being transmitted.

The ICT Policy further requires that, where personal email accounts are used for business purposes, a copy of any record created must be retained in an appropriate official electronic filing system and/or hard copy file which can be accessed should the need arise.

Although I and the staff working in my Department have been assigned Departmental email accounts which are used for official business, there may be occasional operational reasons to use a personal email account. From time to time, a third party may email me about official business using an address other than my Departmental address. This has occurred previously where the third party may have had a particular address to contact me prior to my appointment as Taoiseach.

In line with my Department's ICT policy, if such correspondence is received, I or my staff copy the reply to Government officials thereby creating a record of the correspondence which can be accessed at a later date. All staff working in my Department have signed the ICT Policy, new staff joining the Department are furnished with a copy of it and extracts of the Policy relating to the use of private email have been released under Freedom of Information and are, therefore, in the public domain.

Official Engagements

Questions (3)

Alan Kelly

Question:

3. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach if he and-or officials in his Department attended the 2018 Ryder Cup; if so, the reason they attended; the days on which they attended; the officials they met from a Ryder Cup organisation or the European Tour; and the costs for each individual's attendance. [40886/18]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The Secretary General of my Department attended the 2018 Ryder Cup for one day at the invitation of the European Tour. The purpose of his attendance was to discuss the possibility of the hosting of a future Ryder Cup in Ireland. The European Tour requested that the meeting would be held at Le Golf National in Paris on one of the three days of the Ryder Cup, in order to illustrate the scale of the infrastructure required by the event.

He met with the CEO and Deputy CEO of the European Tour and the Ryder Cup Director. He was also in contact with a former Ryder Cup Captain who is also a member of the European Tour Board.

The cost of flights was €483.16, hotel €152.15 and train fare €10.30.

Departmental Programmes

Questions (4)

Micheál Martin

Question:

4. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the involvement of his Department in tackling adult literacy; if a financial allocation is provided for same; if so, the way in which it is utilised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40679/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

There are no programmes to tackle adult literacy in the Department of Defence.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Questions (5)

Robert Troy

Question:

5. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when serving personnel from the Defence Forces can expect to have their tech three payment issued which was suspended during the downturn period; and the timeframe for the reinstatement of this payment. [40756/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Conciliation and Arbitration scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) provides a formal mechanism for the PDF representative associations, i.e. RACO and PDFORRA, to engage with the Official side. Having regard to commitments under national public service pay agreements, the representative associations can make representations in relation to the pay and conditions of their members. Where agreement is not reached, it is open to both official and representative sides to refer the matter to an Adjudicator or an Arbitration Board.

There are a number of outstanding adjudication findings across the public service, including the Defence Forces, which cannot be implemented at this time having regard to the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009-2015.

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, provides for consideration of a process to address any outstanding adjudications, having due regard to the question of their continued validity and cost implications. Discussions in this regard have commenced with the relevant representative association.

Defence Forces Medical Services

Questions (6)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

6. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if it is the standard practice that a senior medical officer will carry out a full medical prior to overseas deployment but that a junior medical officer will provide a prescription for anti-malaria drugs; the reason for this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40800/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Deputy is aware that there are three anti-malarial drugs, namely Lariam (Mefloquine), Malarone and Doxycycline which continue to be used by the Defence Forces. All of these anti-malaria drugs have contraindications and side effects. I have indicated on many occasions that the use of anti-malaria drugs is a medical matter that should be decided by qualified medical professionals. In the Defence Forces these are decisions for highly qualified Medical Officers, having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual member of the Defence Forces. Significant precautions are taken by the Defence Forces Medical Officers in assessing the medical suitability of members of the Defence Forces to take any of the anti-malarial medications.

The matter raised relates to current litigation against the Minister. There are a number of claims made by current and former members of the Defence Forces who allege personal injury as a consequence of their consumption of Lariam. The State Claims Agency has advised that 164 claims have been made in this regard to date, and the next case is listed for hearing on 20 November, 2018. Given that there is litigation pending it would be inappropriate for me to comment further. However, I wish to assure the Deputy that the health and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces is a key priority for me and the Defence Forces.

Naval Service Vessels

Questions (7)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

7. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the occasions in the past five years that a Naval Service ship was delayed from setting out to sail at the scheduled time and date; the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40801/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Naval Service is the State's principal sea-going agency and is tasked with a variety of defence and other roles. The main day-to-day role of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State's obligations as a member of the European Union. The Naval Service is tasked with patrolling all Irish waters from the shoreline to the outer limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone. These patrols are carried out on a regular and frequent basis and are directed to all areas of Irish waters as necessary.

On any given patrol day the Naval Service can carry out a number of taskings on behalf of other State agencies such as the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, An Garda Síochána and the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners.

The following table sets out the number of patrol days completed in the past five years and the outputs clearly show a focused and committed Naval Service that is continuing to produce a high level of performance.

Year

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Number of Patrol Days carried out

1382

1127

1204

1376

1408

Scheduled Patrol Days Lost

135

353

276

104

72

The Naval Service has carried out a total of 928 patrol days to end August while there have been 138 scheduled patrol days lost to-date. Scheduled patrol days are impacted by a range of factors including adverse weather conditions, unscheduled maintenance and staffing restrictions.

Defence Forces Training

Questions (8)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

8. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of staff involved in training new recruits; the whole-time equivalent of those involved in training new recruits; the rank of those involved; if those involved in training are included in establishment figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40803/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The primary function of training and education in the Defence Forces is to develop and maintain the capabilities necessary to enable it to fulfil the roles laid down by Government.

New recruits complete a 15 week course to qualify as Two Star Privates. They then proceed immediately onto a 10 week Two Star to Three Star course. Once this training has been completed, they are deemed fully trained.

Personnel involved in training are included in the agreed establishment figure of 9,500. The number of personnel involved in such training will vary, depending on the number of recruits being trained at any one time. Currently there are 136 recruits in training, split among 4 platoons. Typically, the personnel required, for training purposes, for each recruit platoon includes the following ranks: -

- 1 x Lieutenant

- 1 x Sergeant

- 8 to 10 Corporals (depending on the size of the platoon)

- There will also be assistance and supervision of the training conducted by Commandant (Comdt), Captain (Capt), Company Sergeant (CS), Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS) and Private 3 Star (Pte 3*) although not on a full time basis.

Defence Forces Strength

Questions (9)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

9. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the whole-time equivalent figure for the Defence Forces corresponds with the establishment figure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40804/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The current whole time equivalent strength of Permanent Defence Force for the end of September is estimated at just over 9,000 personnel. The Government remains committed to returning to, and maintaining the agreed strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel as set out in the White Paper on Defence (2015).

In order to achieve this target, there are significant recruitment opportunities available in the Permanent Defence Force, at both enlisted and officer level, for eligible individuals who wish to have a rewarding and positive career in service to the State. The Permanent Defence Force continues to offer excellent career opportunities for serving personnel and for new entrants. General service recruitment campaigns, an officer cadetship competition, a competition for Air Corps apprentices, a competition for DF School of Music instrumentalists and the 2018 RDF recruitment campaigns all took place this year and the applications from these various competitions are currently being progressed.

In addition, the Defence Forces Medical Corps are currently accepting applications from suitably qualified medical doctors and the Naval Service has a number of opportunities for Bridge Watch-keeping Officers (Operations Branch), Marine Engineering Officers and Electrical Engineer Officers.

Arising from the general service recruitment campaign held earlier this year, new recruits will be inducted between September and end November. 85 Officer Cadets were inducted on the 24th September.

A second general service recruitment campaign was launched on 10 September 2018 and closed on 7 October 2018.

Final figures for numbers enlisted in 2018 will not be available until after year's end. As of 25 September 2018, 414 personnel have been inducted in 2018 and inductions will continue for the rest of the year. The bulk of inductions are weighted towards the second half of the year. Recruitment progress will be reviewed at year end and this will also inform the approach in 2019.

With the support of the Chief of Staff, the Government is committed to retaining the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government, both at home and abroad.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Questions (10)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

10. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of applications to join the Defence Forces in each of the past five years; the number of those that successfully passed each stage of the recruitment process; the number of those that were subsequently enlisted in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40805/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

I am informed by the military authorities that it was not possible to collate the information requested by the Deputy in the timeframe available. I shall provide the figures to the Deputy when I receive them from the military authorities.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Questions (11)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

11. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the amount spent on recruitment to the Defence Forces in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40807/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The following table, provided by the military authorities, sets out the costs associated with recruitment advertising over the past five years:

Year

Recruitment Advertising Spend

2014

€74,586.64

2015

€134,350.84

2016

€175,330.00

2017

€457,809.83

2018

€318,622.00 YTD

In order to reduce panel waiting times, two general service recruit campaigns were held in 2017 and 2018. Other costs associated with recruitment such as training, equipment, provision of uniforms, meals, fuel costs and so on are not readily de-coupled from overall spending in those areas and are not routinely calculated.

The Government remains committed to reaching the authorised strength of 9,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force. There is ongoing recruitment to achieve that target and a range of alternative recruitment approaches are being developed. A working group is examining the scope for greater use of direct entry recruitment for certain specialist positions and steps are being progressed to enable former members of the Permanent Defence Force, who have sought after skills, to re-enter the PDF. I will continue to work closely with the Chief of Staff in developing these approaches.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Questions (12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23, 25, 26)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

12. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason new recruits are obliged to pay for rations; the cost to rectify this; if it is a matter that was brought before the conciliation and arbitration scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40809/18]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

14. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to introduce a military service allowance at a lower rate for recruits in order to compensate them for the loss of the free travel pass; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40811/18]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

15. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated annual cost to provide a once-off €200 completion bonus for recruits that successfully complete their training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40812/18]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

16. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost to restore the 10% reduction in the overseas allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40813/18]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

17. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost to restore all cuts to the military allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40814/18]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

18. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost to restore the 5% cut in the military service allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40815/18]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

23. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the provision of long service increments as a measure to retain expert staff will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40820/18]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

25. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a review was carried out by the military authorities in regard to the technical pay structure of the Defence Forces following the Haddington Road agreement; if a report on same was provided to his Department; if so, the findings of the report ; if the report has been published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40822/18]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

26. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a review was carried out by the military authorities in regard to the technical pay structure of the Defence Forces following the Haddington Road agreement; if a report on same was provided to his Department; if so, the findings of the report ; if the report has been published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40823/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 14 to 18, inclusive, 23, 25 and 26 together.

Similar to other areas of the public service, the pay of Permanent Defence Force personnel was reduced during the financial crisis.

The recovery in the economy has afforded the opportunity for the Government to begin the restoration of pay to all public servants. Defence Forces pay is continuing to increase in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay.

Members of the Permanent Defence Force have received the pay increases due under the Lansdowne Road Agreement. In addition in 2017, following negotiations with PDFORRA, improved pay scales for general service recruits and privates, who joined the Permanent Defence Force post 1 January 2013, were implemented.

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the Agreement. The first increase due from 1 January 2018 has been paid to Permanent Defence Force personnel and a second increase is being applied from 1 October 2018. Further increases in pay are scheduled for 2019 and 2020.

By the end of the current Public Service Pay agreement the pay of all public servants (including members of the Defence Forces), earning under €70,000 per annum, will be restored to pre FEMPI levels. The restoration of the 5% reduction to allowances cut under FEMPI is also scheduled in the agreement.

New entrants to the Defence Forces will also benefit from the measures which were recently announced in relation to amendments to the pay scales for new entrant public servants recruited since January 2011.

The Public Service Pay Commission was established to provide objective advice to Government in relation to Public Service remuneration policy. In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is conducting an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues.

The Department of Defence has provided data as requested by the PSPC for consideration. The Commission's work is on-going. The Department of Defence will continue to engage with the Public Service Pay Commission throughout the process. I will give due consideration to the findings and recommendations that arises from the work of the Commission.

The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (Croke Park Agreement) for the Defence Sector provided that a review would be undertaken of the current technical grading of appointments and/or classes of appointments for enlisted personnel, including consideration of whether current requirements merit tech pay, are at the appropriate rate of tech pay (including whether a higher or lower rate of tech pay should be paid) or can be me in a more cost effective manner. A review of technician pay in the Defence Forces is ongoing in my Department and PDFORRA will be consulted on developments.

There are a number of outstanding adjudication findings across the public service, including the Defence Forces, which cannot be implemented at this time having regard to the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009-2015. Outstanding adjudications relating to the Defence Forces include, the Army Ranger Wing Allowance, Technical Pay increase for Cooks, Account Holders Allowance and Rations and Accommodation for recruits and apprentices.

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, provides for consideration of a process to address any outstanding adjudications, having due regard to the question of their continued validity and cost implications. Discussions in this regard has commenced with the relevant representative association.

In accordance with the Public Service Stability Agreement, 2013-2016, (the Haddington Road Agreement), all sectors across the public service were required to contribute to additional pay and productivity measures. Other sectors delivered these savings through a variety of approaches including additional working time and reduced rates of overtime payments.

The contribution from the Defence sector included a further reduction of 10% on the rate of certain allowances payable to the Defence Forces. This included a 10% reduction in overseas allowances. There are no plans at this stage to revoke the cost savings measures under this agreement and in this regard an estimated cost of restoration of the allowance is not available.

As I previously outlined, the Public Service Pay Commission is considering recruitment and retention issues in the Defence sector and will report in due course. This will inform future actions relating to recruitment and retention.

Defence Forces Representative Organisations

Questions Nos. 14 to 18, inclusive, answered with Question No. 12.

Questions (13)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

13. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the outstanding decisions of the conciliation and arbitration scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40810/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Conciliation and Arbitration scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) provides a formal mechanism for the PDF representative associations, i.e. RACO and PDFORRA, to engage with the Official side. Having regard to commitments under national public service pay agreements, the representative associations can make representations in relation to the pay and conditions of their members. Where agreement is not reached, it is open to both official and representative sides to refer the matter to an Adjudicator or an Arbitration Board.

There are a number of outstanding adjudication findings across the public service, including the Defence Forces, which cannot be implemented having regard to the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009-2015.

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, provides for consideration of a process to address any outstanding adjudications, having due regard to the question of their continued validity and cost implications. Discussions in this regard with the relevant Representative Association has commenced.

Questions Nos. 14 to 18, inclusive, answered with Question No. 12.