European Investment Bank Loans

Questions (45)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

45. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if it is possible in an emergency situation to avail of a low interest EU loan to facilitate an immediate onsite start of sufficient houses to alleviate the most serious aspects and locations of the housing shortage (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44175/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I assume that a “low interest EU Loan” refers to loans provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the European Union which is owned by the EU Member States.

Every advanced economy borrows from the international capital markets to finance its obligations and the services which its citizens require. In Ireland, the recently published Department of Finance Annual Report on Public Debt has identified that, as an overhang from the global financial crisis, outstanding public debt amounts to €42,000 for every Irish resident or a Gross National Debt of circa €215 billion as at the end of September 2018. This level is the third highest among the world’s advanced economies. Given our significant debt legacy and in an increasingly unpredictable external environment, high levels of public indebtedness increase the vulnerability of the Irish economy to possible economic shocks. As part of a proactive and prudent strategy, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), as the Body responsible for managing Ireland’s National Debt, has ”locked-in” a substantial portion of our debt at the relatively low interest rates which have prevailed in recent years and also at longer maturities. By doing this, Ireland’s risk of interest rate shock exposure is reduced. It also has to be borne in mind that reducing the level of public debt and preventing the build-up of additional debt are also extremely important policy priorities. Therefore, the NTMA in coordination with the Department of Finance publishes a target range for Ireland’s planned borrowing annually, with auction schedules then released on a quarterly basis.

Both my Department and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government continue to engage with the EIB on the issue of support for the social and affordable housing sector. In fact, the EIB has been actively supporting Ireland in this regard through inter-mediated loans to the Housing Finance Agency. These long-term loans are made available to approved housing bodies and local authorities at competitive rates for the development of special and affordable housing. In the last five years the EIB has provided €350 million for such investment in cooperation with the Housing Finance Agency.

I am also aware that my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and senior government officials visited the headquarters of the EIB earlier this year to discuss future social and affordable housing investment in Ireland, and to explore ways to broaden EIB support for new social housing investment in Ireland.

In July 2018, a pilot project for the development of cost rental affordable housing in Inchicore was announced. I understand that discussions between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the EIB are ongoing with regard to financing options for this project. I am also aware that the Bank expects to support the first social housing investment under a dedicated PPP financing structure which will see 500 social homes built on six sites across the greater Dublin area.

Tracker Mortgage Examination

Questions (46)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

46. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Finance the status of the tracker mortgage scandal; the measures being put in place for those in arrears after being wrongly removed from tracker mortgages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43996/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Central Bank’s Tracker Examination is focused on ensuring that lenders provide fair outcomes for all customers impacted by tracker related failings. The Examination requires all lenders, which offered tracker interest rate mortgages to their customers, to review all mortgage accounts, including accounts in arrears, to identify any tracker related failings both from a contractual and transparency perspective.

As part of the Examination framework, where customer detriment has been identified, the Central Bank has clearly articulated its expectations of lenders to provide appropriate redress and compensation to all impacted customers in line with prescribed Principles for Redress, including:

2.1. Redress will result in impacted customers being returned to the position that they would have been in had the relevant issue not arisen.

2.2. Compensation is to be reasonable and must reflect the detriment involved arising from and/or associated with being on an incorrect rate (such compensation to reflect the specific circumstances of each impacted customer).

Redress and compensation paid to customers should result in the arrears on any account being amended to take account of the non-application of the appropriate tracker rate.

An important part of the Examination Framework is a requirement for lenders to establish independent Appeals Panels, specifically to deal with customers who are not satisfied with any aspect of the redress and compensation offers that they receive from lenders.

In terms of the current status of the Examination, at the meeting of Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on 4 October last, the Central Bank confirmed that, as of end August, lenders had identified circa 38,400 affected customers (including cases resolved before the commencement of the industry wide Examination) and had paid €580 million in redress and compensation.

The redress and compensation phases of the Examination are now significantly advanced. Some 93 percent of affected customer accounts already identified and verified had received offers of redress and compensation by August 31st. The Central Bank’s supervisory review of conduct of the Examination is also significantly advanced, but will not conclude until lenders complete remaining work.

The Government continues to support the Central Bank in its efforts to complete the Tracker Mortgage Examination as quickly as possible and to see all impacted tracker customers receive appropriate redress and compensation.

Property Tax Review

Questions (47, 54)

John Curran

Question:

47. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Finance if the review of the local property tax announced in 2018 is complete; the main recommendations of the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43966/18]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

54. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance his plans for household property tax; when the review group's report will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44142/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 54 together.

The report of the review of the LPT is currently being finalised in conjunction with the Departments of the Taoiseach, Public Expenditure and Reform, Housing Planning and Local Government, and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. I will of course, carefully consider the conclusions and recommendations of the report when it is presented to me. The report will also be published.

The purpose of the review is to inform me in relation to any actions I may recommend to Government concerning the LPT having regard to, inter alia, the residential property revaluation date which will arise on 1st November 2019. Any material changes would, of course, require legislation in order to enable the Revenue Commissioners to have the necessary administrative and technical arrangements in place in relation to LPT liabilities for 2020 and beyond.

Motor Insurance Regulation

Questions (48)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

48. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the reason commercial drivers such as taxi drivers are unable to buy motor insurance from insurance companies based in other EU states in view of the free movement of goods and services across the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44229/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

At the outset, I would like to clarify that it is possible for all motorists including commercial drivers such as taxi drivers to buy insurance from insurers authorised in other EU states as part of the Single Market. This can be done through such insurers either:

- establishing a branch operation in the host country and thus conducting business on a ‘freedom of establishment’ (FOE) basis; or

- writing business from the home country (i.e. where authorised) into the host country on a ‘freedom of services’ (FOS) basis.

However, in order to conduct business in this fashion, the insurer is required to meet certain obligations in the host member state, such as becoming a member of the national bureau and the national guarantee fund. In Ireland, the relevant Bureau is the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). These are important requirements as the MIBI is tasked with meeting the EU requirement of compensating victims of accidents caused by uninsured and unidentified vehicles. What this means therefore is that it is not possible to take out insurance with an insurer which is not operating in the Irish market as such companies will be members only of their own national bureau.

In addition to the above, an important point to note is that an insurer in considering whether it wants to take on Irish risk business will look at a wide range of factors including the award levels, the legal system, the general claims culture etc. Therefore ultimately, even if we do get a more efficient and accessible EU insurance market, there can be no guarantees that insurers in other jurisdictions will automatically be willing to take on Irish risk.

Consequently, the key to addressing this problem is to make Ireland more attractive to new entrants. In this regard, I believe the implementation of the second Personal Injuries Commission Report is an important part of this process in particular its main recommendation that this country follows the example of judicial intervention which has occurred in Northern Ireland and in the UK, namely the introduction of Judicial Guidelines for personal injury awards.

Financial Services Sector

Questions (49)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

49. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the study being carried out by a company (details supplied) into pay across the financial sector; his views on performance related salaries in banks and other financial institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44141/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Deputies will be aware that Government policy on banking remuneration has remained unchanged since the financial crisis. Extensive restrictions are in place and these are not simply confined to a handful of senior bankers whose pay is restricted by the €500,000 pay cap (excluding a standard pension contribution). These affect c.23,000 workers across the three banks in which the State has a shareholding. The Policy dictates that variable pay including bonuses and any other fringe benefits including the likes of health insurance and childcare cannot be paid to any staff members from the most junior lowest paid staff to the most senior ranks.

A new regulatory framework has been put in place since the financial crisis across the EU, the economy has returned to near full employment, the remaining banks are profitable again – and in the case of AIB and BOI sustainably so. The State remains the largest shareholder in AIB, BOI & PTSB but following the successful IPO of AIB in June 2017 all three banks are also now on an equal footing with listings on the main market of the Irish and London stock exchanges. This provides a platform for the State to recover its investment in the banks over time.

The skill set required in the banking sector is evolving with the greatest demand for staff now in areas such as the digital economy, risk management, legal and compliance. These skills are in demand right across the economy and so the banks are competing for this talent against companies who have more flexible and attractive remuneration structures. Brexit has only made this problem more acute.

In the senior ranks of the banks the substantial disparity in pay levels versus other Irish listed companies or peer banks in Europe is stark and introduces an obvious retention risk. I also need to be advised if this retention risk and a lack of alignment between the interests of executives and shareholders, undermines the Government's objective of recovering the State’s full investment in the banks.

My department held a full open EU public procurement to select a suitably qualified external consultant to assist the Department of Finance in completing this review of Government policy. On 3 October the specialist advisory division of international firm Korn Ferry were appointed.

My officials have met with Korn Ferry and already begun a consultation process with the banks, the Financial Services Union as well as a range of investors. I expect the Department to complete the review before the end of the year and it will be published in Q1 2019.

It is important that we do not prejudge the outcome of the review, It is also important to note irrespective of the outcome and what advice is given on the reintroduction of variable pay or bonuses, the ‘super tax’, which sees 89% of bonuses being paid back to the State will remain in place via the Finance Act 2011. The power to alter that remains exclusively in the hands of the Oireachtas.

NAMA Social Housing Provision

Questions (50)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

50. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance his plans to use the surplus generated from winding down NAMA to build housing. [44209/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is expected that NAMA will substantially complete its work by 2020. The Agency announced in October 2017 that it had redeemed all of its €30.2bn in Senior Debt which was guaranteed by the State and since April 2018 it has commenced the redemption of its €1.6bn in subordinated debt. However, notwithstanding the successful achievement of repaying the State’s contingent liability, three years ahead of schedule, there is still a significant body of work yet to be completed by NAMA.

Subject to current market conditions prevailing NAMA projects a surplus in the region of €3.5bn to be returned to the State once it completes its work. The realisation of this surplus depends on the redemption of NAMA’s remaining subordinated debt by March 2020 and completion of its Dublin Docklands SDZ and residential funding programmes.

As per section 60(2) of the NAMA Act 2009, NAMA may use surplus funds to redeem and cancel its senior and subordinated debt. Surplus funds may only be returned to the Central Fund once NAMA's debt has been redeemed in full, which is expected to be in 2020.

Any NAMA surplus paid, while Exchequer positive, will not impact the general government balance, in line with Eurostat rules. It will be a decision for the Government as to how any surplus returned by NAMA will be utilised within the framework of the fiscal rules. The intention has always been to use such receipts from the resolution of the financial sector crisis to pay down our national debt and reduce our debt servicing costs.

In the meantime NAMA is making a significant contribution to the supply of housing within the State where it is in a position to do so. NAMA’s residential funding programme is expected to fund the completion of 20,000 residential units by the end of 2020. NAMA is on track to meet this target with over 8,000 completed as of 16 October 2018. In addition, NAMA has an established policy of identifying to Local Authorities and approved housing bodies, properties within its portfolio which may be suitable for social housing. To date 6,984 such properties have been identified, with demand confirmed for 2,717 and 2,474 delivered or committed. Part of this delivery has been through NAMA’s innovative National Asset Residential Property Services (NARPS) model, which has purchased over 1,300 properties from NAMA debtors and leased them on for social housing.

EU Meetings

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 19.

Questions (51)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

51. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on his engagement with his European counterparts regarding the proposed digital tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43971/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that on 21 March 2018 the European Commission published two proposed Directives which seek to tax certain digital activities differently within the EU.

The first, an ‘interim’ solution for a 3% levy on turnover from certain digital service activities. The second, ‘comprehensive solution’ requires an overhaul of international taxation, establishing the concept of a “digital permanent establishment”, allowing countries taxing rights over the digital business carried out by a company in that country, even where that company has no physical presence there.

The interim proposal is being debated among Member States – both at technical and political level. Most recently, it was discussed at the informal ECOFIN on 8 September 2018. I welcomed the opportunity to discuss the proposal with my EU counterparts and there was a healthy debate. While it is clear that there is widespread preference for a global solution, Ministers remain divided on the need for interim EU measures. Technical discussions on the proposal are also ongoing.

I expect that digital tax will be discussed again at the next Ecofin meeting in November and, given my concerns in relation to these proposals, I will be discussing the issue with my counterparts in other Member States over the coming weeks in advance of, and at, the Ecofin discussions.

Ireland continues to actively engage on this matter with our fellow Member States and at OECD level to meet the challenges and opportunities that arise from the digitisation of the economy.

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 19.

Motor Insurance Claims

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 47.

Questions (53)

Michael McGrath

Question:

53. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the status of the liquidation of a company (details supplied); when the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2018 will be fully enacted; when he expects the next payment to take place; when he expects all claimants involved in the company will receive compensation in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44120/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Setanta Insurance was placed into liquidation by the Malta Financial Services Authority on 30 April 2014. As it was a Maltese incorporated company, the liquidation is being carried out under Maltese law.The Deputy will be aware that the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2018 (Act 21 of 2018) was signed into law in July this year. The Act, inter alia, provides for the payment of 100% of the compensation due to Setanta third party personal injury motor insurance claimants including the additional 35% to those who have settled their claims and have already received compensation of 65% of their claim.

The Act also provides for revised arrangements for the on-going administration of the Insurance Compensation Fund, including for the relevant applications to the President of the High Court. These revised arrangements have now been put in place.

I signed the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2018 (Commencement) (Part 4) Order 2018, which enacts Part 4 of the Act, on 13 September. This section of the Act establishes the new Motor Insurers Insolvency Compensation Fund. This was the final part of the Act left to be enacted, and will come into force on 1 December 2018.

Currently, no date has yet been fixed for the presentation of next tranche of payments to the High Court. However, I am informed by the State Claims Agency that much of the preparatory work has been completed, and while it was originally hoped that a court date could be arranged for the end of October, at this stage it may slip into the first half of November.

The Agency has advised that the next tranche will comprise (a) newly settled claims requiring 100% payment, (b) all those cases where 65% was previously paid and where the balance of 35% is due and (c) a number of third party legal costs payments. In total, it is expected that next tranche of claims will comprise in the region of 1,500 separate payments with a value of approximately €21million.

Finally, it should be noted that the process of settling claims is still ongoing and is subject in some cases to court procedures. The liquidator of Setanta estimates that the process of settling the vast majority of outstanding claims should be completed by end-2019.

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 47.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (55, 101)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

55. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the number of companies and employees that availed of the key employee engagement programme to date in 2018; the impact he expects to result from his proposed changes to the scheme in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44144/18]

View answer

Billy Kelleher

Question:

101. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the changes he plans to make to increase the take-up by SMEs in the employment investment incentive scheme and the key employee engagement programme. [44495/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 101 together.

The Key Employee Engagement Programme, KEEP, came into effect on 1 January this year to help SMEs to attract and retain employees in our highly competitive labour market. I am advised by Revenue that details of the costs and numbers availing of this programme will only be available once the relevant employer tax returns for 2018 have been received and processed. The first KEEP return is due on 31 March 2019.

Over the past year I have become aware that take-up has been less than expected and I decided to take early action in Budget 2019.

In my recent Budget speech, I announced my intention to increase the ceiling on the maximum annual market value of share options that may be granted to 100% of salary (i.e. to double the ratio of share options to salary). I will also be replacing the three-year limit with a lifetime limit and increasing the overall value of options that may be awarded per employee from €250,000 to €300,000. The €3,000,000 overall KEEP limit remains for companies and employees are not restricted in entering into future KEEP arrangements with future employers.

I expect that these changes will help support SMEs to compete for skilled staff.

Corporation Tax

Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 34

Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 32.

Questions (56)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

56. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if the application of accounting rules known as the International Financial Reporting Standard 15 provided a one-off boost to profits and therefore a windfall effect to corporation taxes payable by information technology and pharmaceutical companies in 2018 which will not reoccur after 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43979/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Corporation tax receipts to end September, at €5.2 billion, are 6.3 per cent (€0.3 billion) ahead of profile. This mostly arises from the introduction of the International Financial Reporting Standard “IFRS 15” that replaces the existing standards on revenue.

This standard must be applied in respect of all financial reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2018 but early adoption is permitted. The “spreading” provisions introduced by Section 22 of Finance Act 2017 apply to all entities which applied IFRS 15 from the effective date (i.e. they apply to corporation tax returns for 2018 and subsequent years). However, where entities chose to early adopt IFRS 15, they had to elect to apply the “spreading” provisions in their 2017 corporation tax returns.Accordingly, it is expected that the bulk of the €0.3 billion surplus related to IFRS 15 is once-off in nature, will not reoccur and, accordingly, is not included in the 2019 forecast for corporation tax revenue. The Revenue Commissioners engaged with the companies affected to understand the impact and timing of the increase. They only became aware of the potential for IFRS 15 to significantly increase receipts in 2018 in the second quarter of this year. It should be noted these receipts arise from a small number of large companies. This issue was separately highlighted in the monthly Fiscal Monitor published by my Department in May, the Summer Economic Statement 2019, published in June, and, most recently, in Budget 2019 .

Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 34.
Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 32.

Illicit Trade in Fuel and Tobacco Products

Questions (59)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

59. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of small and local retailers regarding the threat of illegal selling of cigarettes'by continual increases in budget 2019; if the Revenue Commissioners have adequate resources to tackle smuggling and illegal sales; and if his attention has been further drawn to retailers' concerns for their business. [44235/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it is satisfied that, having regard to its overall level of resources, it has the necessary means to tackle smuggling and illegal sales of cigarettes and tobacco. I remain open to discussing with Revenue any requirements that they may have as regards resources in the future to maximise their effectiveness in combatting smuggling.

Community Banking

Questions (60, 85)

Willie Penrose

Question:

60. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if the rebuttal published by an organisation (details supplied) has been examined in respect of the conclusions of the public banking investigation; the detailed refutation of the conclusions drawn by his Department in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40658/18]

View answer

Willie Penrose

Question:

85. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if he has examined the rebuttal published by an organisation (details supplied) in respect of the conclusions of the public banking investigation; the detailed refutation of the conclusions drawn by his Department's officials; if he will be raising the points raised by the organisation in its submission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38418/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 85 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development published a Report on Local Public Banking at the beginning of July of this year. The Report concludes that there is not a compelling case for the State to use Exchequer funds to establish a new local public banking system, however, there is a commitment from the Government to consider other means by which the objectives of local public banking may be achieved.

I have noted the rebuttal to the Report on Local Public Banking published by Irish Rural Link. As part of our continued engagement with key public banking stakeholders, my Department has consulted with Irish Rural Link and others in the development of the terms of reference which will form the basis of the evaluation that the external consultants will conduct. Officials in my Department are currently preparing for a tender process to engage an external consultant. It is envisaged that the tender process will be concluded by the end of this year, with a view for the evaluation process to begin in early 2019.

Defence Forces Reserve

Questions (61)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

61. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason pay is being held up for members of the Defence Forces Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44243/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

In relation to the pay of Reserve Defence Force (RDF) personnel, the relevant instruction in force provides that members are to be paid on the Friday of the week in which they have undertaken fulltime training. Nominations for attendance at paid training must be submitted to the Department of Defence by military units to arrive not less than 14 days in advance of the start of training. Actual attendance at paid training is then confirmed to the Department by the relevant unit on the Monday of the training week and, subject to all normal administrative requirements being met, payment is then authorised to issue on the Friday of the training week. Payrolls must, of necessity, operate within strict banking and payroll deadlines in order to ensure that personnel who are duly nominated for paid training are paid on time.

The foregoing procedures are of long standing and are designed to facilitate payment at the end of the training week to those who attended. The military authorities have been communicated with on this issue and requested to ensure full compliance with the requirement to forward initial nominations and confirmations of attendance on the basis set out in the relevant instruction.

In addition, specific protocols are in place when personnel exceed certain paid attendance thresholds and in such cases special permission must be sought in advance from the Department. 

If the Deputy has a specific case in mind he can send me the details and I will have the matter examined.

Air Corps Recruitment

Questions (62)

Jack Chambers

Question:

62. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Air Corps pilot applicants recruited in each of the past four years despite failing a colour blindness test, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44333/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I have requested the military authorities to outline the position and I will revert to the Deputy as soon as this is available. 

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (63)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

63. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the breakdown of staff in his Department by grade. [44352/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The breakdown of staff in my Department by grade on 15 October 2018 was as follows:

Grade 

 Number

 Secretary General

   1 

 Assistant Secretary

  3

 Principal

 18

 Assistant Principal

 45

 Higher Executive Officer

 70

 Administrative Officer

   5

 Executive Officer

 103

 Clerical Officer

   92

 Service Officer

    13

 Total

 350

In addition to the 18 Principals set out in the table above,  I have two special advisors who are employed in an un-established capacity at that grade. 

Defence Forces Strength

Questions (64)

Jack Chambers

Question:

64. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the strength in whole-time equivalent terms of the Permanent Defence Force with regard to all three services and all ranks in tabular form. [44405/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The table below sets out the current strength (as of 30 September 2018) in whole time equivalent of the PDF across all services and ranks.

Service 

 Strength (WTE)

Army 

7,247 

 Air Corps

720 

 Naval Service

1,022  

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. Two general service recruitment campaigns, an officer cadetships 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.

Recruits from the first general service recruitment campaign held earlier this year are being inducted between September and end November. The 95th Cadet Class of 85 recruits was 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.

Defence Forces Reserve Strength

Questions (65)

Jack Chambers

Question:

65. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the strength in whole-time equivalent terms of the Defence Forces Reserve with regard to all three services and all ranks. [44406/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

As of 30 September 2018 (the latest date for which figures are available), the effective strength of the Reserve Defence Force was as follows:

Service

Total Personnel

First Line Reserve (FLR)

278 

Army Reserve (AR)

 1,620

 Naval Service Reserve (NSR)

 125

I am aware that there is a difference between these figures and the establishment for the AR and NSR which provides for 4,069 personnel. To address this difference, I directed the military authorities to maximise recruitment to the Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve, having regard to training demands arising from significant ongoing recruitment to the PDF. 

A total of 1,363 applications were received for the recent RDF General Service Recruitment campaign.  Applications for this recruitment campaign, which ran between 23 April and 4 June 2018, are currently being processed. A total of 124 members have been inducted into the RDF in 2018 (as of 12 October 2018).

I can assure the Deputy that I remain committed to the on-going development of the RDF within the framework set out in the White Paper on Defence.

Defence Forces Data

Questions (66, 67)

Jack Chambers

Question:

66. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of additional recruits the Permanent Defence Force has taken to date in 2018 with regard to all three services; the gender breakdown of same in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44407/18]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

67. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of additional recruits the Defence Forces Reserve has taken to date 2018 with regard to all services; the gender breakdown of same in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44408/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 67 together.

The table sets out the number of recruits inducted into the Permanent Defence Force in 2018 (as of 24 October 2018), together with a gender breakdown:

 

Male

Female

Total 

Army

239

9

248 

Naval   Service

56

7

63 

Air   Corps

20

0

20 

Total

315

16

 331

In addition to the above, 85 cadets of which nine are female have been inducted this year.

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 cadetships 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.

Arising from the general service recruitment campaign held earlier this year, new recruits will be inducted between September and end November. 

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. 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.

The table sets out the number of inductions to the Reserve Defence Force in 2018 (as of 24 October 2018), together with a gender breakdown of same:

 

Male 

Female

 Total

Army   Reserve

102

13

 115

Naval   Service Reserve

11

2

 13

Total

113

15

 128

A total of 1,363 applications were received for the recent RDF General Service Recruitment campaign.  Applications for this recruitment campaign, which ran between 23 April and 4 June 2018, are currently being processed.

I can assure the Deputy that I remain committed to the on-going development of the RDF within the framework set out in the White Paper on Defence.

Army Bomb Disposals Data

Questions (68)

Jack Chambers

Question:

68. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of suspect devices that the Army disposal unit has dealt with to date in 2018, by county in tabular form. [44409/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for the internal security of the State. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power which, in practice, means to assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so.

The Defence Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams respond when a request for assistance is made by An Garda Síochána in dealing with a suspect device. The number of EOD callouts, which include viable devices, hoaxes, false alarms, post-blast analysis and the removal of unstable chemicals in laboratories dealt with from 1 January 2018 to 22 October 2018, by county, are set out in the tabular statement below:

County

No.

Louth

8

Monaghan

1

Clare

1

Cork

6

Dublin

17

Galway

1

Kerry

2

Kildare

5

Mayo

1

Sligo

1

Tipperary

3

Waterford

2

Wexford

2

Wicklow

2

TOTAL

52

Naval Service Data

Questions (69)

Jack Chambers

Question:

69. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of days spent at sea by members of the Naval Service Reserve in 2017 and to date in 2018. [44410/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The military authorities inform me that it has not been possible, within the time allowed, to collate the information required to reply to this question. I will forward the information to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.