Defence Forces Properties

Questions (82)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

82. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the steps he is taking to address the dereliction of the military barracks site in Nenagh, County Tipperary (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33417/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The former barracks in Nenagh is no longer required for military purposes. In accordance with Government policy and my Department's practice to dispose of surplus property no longer required for military purposes, the disposal of the property is now being progressed.

 My officials are now, with the assistance of the Chief State Solicitor's Office, in the process of regularising all outstanding legal issues in relation to the property with a view to progressing its disposal.  In this context, they are also exploring a number of avenues to try and secure the long term future of the former barracks for the benefit of the local community.  In the past Tipperary County Council advised they were not interested in acquiring the site.  However, all Government Departments and other Public Bodies, including Tipperary County Council, will be further invited to declare any interest in acquiring the property.  Also, in the context of its potential future use contributing to the positive development of Nenagh, my Department is open to viable proposals to these ends which may be channelled through Tipperary County Council or other Public/Government Bodies.  If there is no interest from Public Bodies in the property it is intended to put the property up for sale by public auction.

Defence Forces Reports

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 71.

Question No. 85 answered with Question No. 43.

Questions (83)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

83. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will address the low level of job satisfaction for the Permanent Defence Forces as indicated in the Public Service Pay Commission Report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33603/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

At its meeting held on the 4th July 2019, the Government accepted, in full, the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces. The Government also agreed an extensive implementation plan for the report.

The implementation plan is arranged around three broad themes of valuing members of the PDF, retaining the best people and attracting the best people. The plan, agreed by Government, sets out the actions to be taken and the timelines within which they will be taken, i.e. immediate, short term, medium term and long term. The implementation plan complements a range of actions that are already underway in the Department and the Defence Forces, to enhance recruitment, retention and job satisfaction in the PDF.

In addition, the plan sets out an oversight process and my Department is putting in place the civil and military structures to support this.

The report of the Public Service Pay Commission is currently being considered by the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations and there will be further meetings in the coming weeks to clarify any matters arising.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 71.
Question No. 85 answered with Question No. 43.

Defence Forces Reports

Question No. 87 answered with Question No. 71.

Questions (86)

Jack Chambers

Question:

86. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the recommendations of a report (details supplied) regarding manning levels of vessels are being implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33818/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The White Paper on Defence published in 2015 established the Government's defence policy framework for the ten year period out to 2025.  This provides for retention of the current Army, Air Corps and Naval Service structures, including a Permanent Defence Force (PDF) establishment of 9,500 personnel.

The report referred to in the question dates back over 21 years and has long been superseded by the first White Paper on Defence in 2000 which addressed the report's recommendations and which was followed by an increase in the Naval Service establishment to 1,144 personnel.  This increased establishment, which was based on an eight ship flotilla, was later cut by 50 in the context of cuts across the Defence Forces that had to be imposed in the early part of this decade as part of the Employment Control Framework.  In line with this reduction of 50 in the Naval Service establishment, there was also a reduction of 200 in the annual patrol days target for the Naval Service arising out of Budget 2010.  The overall establishment for the PDF was later stabilised at 9,500 which was subsequently re-affirmed by Government in the White Paper on Defence 2015.

Question No. 87 answered with Question No. 71.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Questions (88)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

88. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if colour blindness is an automatic disqualifier for application to the Defence Forces; if there have been changes to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34016/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I have sought relevant information from the military authorities and I will revert to the Deputy on this matter.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (89)

Seán Fleming

Question:

89. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 45 of 30 May 2019, when the information requested will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34058/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

With regard to the above-referenced parliamentary question, I undertook to reply to you with the information requested relating to the number of discharge applications that exceeded four months to be completed. This reply issued from my Office by letter dated the 17th July 2019. For ease, the text of the written reply is as follows.

There are three primary reasons by which an application for discharge from the Defence Forces can be affected for enlisted personnel:

- On pension after the end of an engagement or on age grounds (Form AF 97),

- When the Defence Forces seek the discharge of a person for a given reason (Form AF 97 B), or

- To discharge by purchase, while a person still has a service of engagement or an undertaking (AF 97C).

In 2018, there were 48 applications which took in access of four months to process.

When an individual discharges on age grounds or on completion of an engagement, they do so through the submission of an AF 97. This may be done well in advance of their discharge, thereby allowing personnel to take their pre-discharge leave if this is available to them, or any annual leave to which they are entitled. Consequently, in many cases, AF 97s take longer than four months from application to completion. In 2018, 31 applications fall into this category.

When the discharge of a person is sought by the Defence Forces, an AF 97 B is completed. In many cases, this process takes longer than four months due to the appeals processes afforded to the individuals concerned. There were 13 discharges of this category in 2018.

The discharge of personnel who submit an AF 97 C can take longer to process for some, as these personnel hold an educational undertaking which requires calculation. Following the calculation of a discharge cost and authorisation of the AF 97C, individuals have 91 days to decide whether they wish to effect the authorisation of their application. There were four discharges of this category in 2018.

In 2019, there are 5 applications on hand which have exceeded four months. In the case of 2 applications, the authorisation has expired, while the date of discharge of the remaining 3 have been set for this month.

Defence Forces Expenditure

Questions (90)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

90. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of capital projects in excess of €2 million within the remit of his Department; the amount spent on each project to date; and the anticipated completion date. [34199/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

Under the National Development Plan, as part of Project Ireland 2040, the Defence Vote was allocated €541 million in capital funding for the period 2018 to 2022. This level of capital funding allows the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructure development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the capabilities necessary to deliver on all their assigned roles, both at home and overseas.

Table 1 below sets out the major equipment and infrastructural capital projects currently underway in my Department.

Table 1: Ongoing Capital Projects:

Project

Tender   Price

Amount spent to date (VAT incl.)

Anticipated Completion Date

Armoured Personnel Carrier Mid-Life Upgrade and Maintenance Programme

€68.0m

€45.0m

2022

Air Corps Fixed Wing Utility Aircraft Project

€43.1m

€16.0m

2020

Naval Service Vessel Mid-life Refit (Phase 1)

€4.0m

€2.5m

2020

Storage Facilities at Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh Camp (Phases 1&2)

€13.5m

€13.1m

2019

Virtual Desktop Architecture IT Project

€12.8m

€8.7m

2021

Dining Hall Refurbishment at Custume Barracks, Athlone

€4.2m

€1.6m

2019

Accommodation Upgrade at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel

€3.3m

€1.1m

2019

Fuel Storage Safety System, Haulbowline, Cork

€2.4m

€2.4m

2019

Development of training facilities at Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny

€3.2m (tender process not completed)

€56,000

2020

Development of training facilities at Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick

€3m (tender process not completed)

€67,000

2020

Accommodation Upgrade at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin

€2.4m (tender process not completed)

€31,000

2020

Accommodation Upgrade at Curragh Camp, Co Kildare

€2m (tender process not completed)

€33,000

2020

In addition to these on-going projects, a number of other major capital expenditure projects have also been recently delivered, as outlined in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Completed Capital Projects:

Project

Actual Cost of Project

(VAT incl.)

Project Ended

Naval Service Vessel Replacement Programme

€270.1m

2018

Naval Service New Vessel Armament Project

€17.5m

2019

Armoured Logistics Vehicle Project

€7.2m

2018 

Air Corps Aircraft Replacement Project (PC9)

€6.3m

2017 

Under the National Development Plan and in line with  the White Paper on Defence,  a number of lower value capital projects are also being progressed. In addition, planning continues on further equipment renewal and replacement programmes including force protection, transport, communications and information technology, weapons and ammunition systems as well as on-going investment in modernisation and renewal of barrack infrastructure.

Defence Forces Allowances

Questions (91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97)

Jack Chambers

Question:

91. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the timeline for the implementation of priority actions related to technical pay arrangements in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34305/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

92. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the actions taken on the previous review to the technical pay structure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34306/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

93. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has examined if some of the Permanent Defence Forces in receipt of the security duty allowance do not receive the minimum wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34307/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

94. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has examined if certain ranks of the Permanent Defence Forces are not in receipt of the minimum wage when their hours worked are compared to their pay and allowances;; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34308/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

96. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will respond to the 84.5% of members of the Defence Forces that stated pay levels as a reason to leave in the Public Service Pay Commission report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34310/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

97. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a review undertaken by military management into technical grades 2 to 6 as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission will be implemented; if so, the implementation timeline for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34311/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91, to 94, inclusive, and Questions Nos. 96 and 97 together.

At its meeting held on the 4th July 2019, the Government accepted, in full, the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Permanent Defence Force. The report contains a broad range of recommendations to deal with recruitment and retention challenges in the Permanent Defence Force.  

The Government also agreed an extensive implementation plan for the report. The plan sets out the actions to be taken and the timelines within which they will be taken.   

The report of the Public Service Pay Commission is being considered by the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations.

The Defence Sector arrangements in the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (the Croke Park Agreement) contained a commitment to review technical pay in the Defence Forces. A review of technical pay Grade 1 was conducted in 2014 and came into effect on 1 Jan 2015.

A review of the technical pay Grades 2 - 6 ,is being progressed and the timelines for implementation are contained in the Plan to implement the Report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention issues in the Permanent Defence Force.

Security Duty Allowance (SDA) is an additional duty based allowance paid on top of basic pay, military service allowance and any other allowances individual members of the Permanent Defence Force may be in receipt of. In this regard, SDA should not be viewed in isolation when calculating hourly rates of remuneration.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions Nos. 96 and 97 answered with Question No. 91.

Questions (95)

Jack Chambers

Question:

95. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on whether overseas missions will be compromised with 57.8% of members stating that they intend to leave the Permanent Defence Forces in the next two years as outlined in the Public Service Pay Commission report on the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34309/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

At its meeting held on 4th July 2019, the Government accepted, in full, the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Permanent Defence Force.  The report contains a broad range of recommendations to deal with the recruitment and retention challenges in the Permanent Defence Force.

 The Government also agreed an extensive implementation plan for the report.  The plan sets out the actions to be taken and the timelines within which they will be taken.

 The availability of personnel to undertake all roles assigned will continue to be carefully monitored. 

 

Questions Nos. 96 and 97 answered with Question No. 91.

Defence Forces Operations

Questions (98)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

98. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the representatives of the Government and or the Defence Force were invited to Paris for the Bastille military parade and subsequent discussions regarding military co-operation in Europe. [34353/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I can confirm that neither I nor the Defence Forces received invitations to Paris for the Bastille military parade and subsequent discussions regarding military co-operation in Europe.

Defence Forces Allowances

Question No. 100 answered with Question No. 48.

Questions (99)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

99. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost of implementing the outstanding adjudication in relation to the Army Ranger Wing allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34382/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Due to security considerations relating to the Army Ranger Wing, I am unable to divulge an estimated cost of implementing the outstanding adjudication in relation to the Army Ranger Wing allowance. 

Question No. 100 answered with Question No. 48.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (101)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

101. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of additional personnel that would be required to give full effect to the working time directive in the Defence Forces; the estimated cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34384/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Working Time Directive has been transposed into national legislation by way of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997. The Government has committed to amending the Organisation of Working Time Act and bringing the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána within the scope of its provisions and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is the lead government department in this regard.

The application of the Working Time Directive to members of the Permanent Defence Force is also currently the subject of discussions between civil and military management and the Representative Associations. 

Given the ongoing work, it is not possible at this point to provide estimates as requested by the Deputy.

Defence Forces Resources

Questions (102)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

102. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the current provision of accommodation for Defence Forces personnel; the number of beds available; the details of any shortage; the estimated cost of addressing this; the additional investment provided for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34385/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I have been advised by the military authorities that are currently 4,625 beds available for use by members of the Defence Forces.  Of these 4,625 beds, 2,460 are classified as temporary accommodation for use by personnel for various reasons including those on residential training courses, on operational deployments at short notice, etc.

I have been further advised by the military authorities that locations where there is an accommodation shortage varies, depending on the type of accommodation required for a particular activity, e.g. operational deployments at short notice or short-term collective Unit training.

 In relation to the infrastructure requirements of the Defence Forces, this year I have allocated some €28m towards the maintenance of and the development of new building projects for the Defence Forces. This represents an increase of over €10m compared to 2018. It is intended that the monies to be allocated towards the provision and improvement of built infrastructure will continue to increase in the coming years.

Some of the key ongoing projects now underway in improving our Defence Forces infrastructure are:

- Approval to commence a design solution for the refurbishment of and upgrading of the Accommodation Block in the Naval Base at Haulbowline was issued on the 10 July 2019. This approval will allow the procurement process for the appointment of a Design Team to develop this project to commence shortly. This project will deliver additional living in capacity on top of the existing provision of 210 beds spaces already provided at the Naval Base.

- The refurbishment of the Apprentice Accommodation Block at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel is well advanced. This will provide class rooms, auditorium, recreational and improved living in accommodation for 75 personnel. This project will be completed in November 2019.

- The refurbishment of the Dining Hall in Custume Barracks, Athlone started in 2018. The scope of the works includes the refurbishment and upgrade of the existing dining hall and cookhouse. The upgrade and refurbishment of the building currently in place will provide a modern dining facility and ensure the long-term viability of the complex at the barracks. These works will be completed by year end.

- The upgrading and refurbishment of Plunkett Block 7 in the Curragh Camp, Defence Forces Training Centre involves the refurbishment of the existing accommodation for 58 personnel to modern standards. Tenders for this project are currently being evaluated and it is expected to place the contract in the coming weeks.

- Upgrading and refurbishment of the existing accommodation for 80 personnel in Blocks 1 & 2 in Cathal Brugha Barracks is scheduled to commence before the end of this year.

Taken together these projects which are all being prioritised represent a combined value of some €25m in planned capital investment.  This level of investment illustrates the importance I attach to ensuring that the quality of the Defence Forces built infrastructure meets with the expectations of our serving personnel.

Defence Forces Operations

Questions (103)

Jack Chambers

Question:

103. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the interdiction operations undertaken by the Naval Service in each of the past ten years in tabular form; the number of vessels stopped; the number of vessels boarded or searched; the number of vessels seized or returned to land to be handed over to An Garda Síochána or relevant law enforcement agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34523/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Joint Task Force on Drug Interdiction (JTF) was established in 1993 as a Government measure to improve law enforcement in relation to illegal drug smuggling and consists of members of An Garda Síochána, the Customs Service and the Naval Service.

Overall responsibility for the prevention of drug trafficking rests primarily with the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners, while responsibility for the prevention of crime rests primarily with An Garda Síochána. The White Paper on Defence (2015) reaffirms the security role carried out by the Defence Forces in support of this important work.

The Permanent Defence Force has participated in a number of high profile drug interdiction operations resulting in significant seizures of drugs. While certain of these operations have been widely reported , the Deputy will appreciate that for operational and security reasons it is not appropriate for me to provide the information as requested.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (104)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

104. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of promotional positions waiting to be filled throughout the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34527/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The manpower requirement of the Defence Forces is monitored on an on-going basis in accordance with operational requirements. Promotions are ongoing within the officer ranks. Discussions have recently concluded with PDFORRA regarding the arrangements for a NCO promotion competition, which will commence soon.

The table below outlines the promotional posts vacant within the Permanent Defence Force as of 30 June 2019, the latest date for which such figures are available.

 Rank

Number of Promotion vacancies as of 30 June 2019

 Colonel

 2

 Lieutenant Colonel

 9

 Commandant

 0

 Captain

 82

 Lieutenant

 0

 Sergeant Major

 1

 Battalion Quartermaster Sergeant

 4

 Company Sergeant

 19

 Company Quartermaster Sergeant

 4

 Sergeant

 211

 Corporal

 241

Note:

Equivalent Naval Service Ranks

Colonel/Captain

Lieutenant Colonel/Commander

Commandant/Lieutenant Commander

Captain/Lieutenant (NS)

Sergeant Major/Warrant Officer

Battalion Quartermaster Sergeant/Senior Chief Petty Officer

Company Quartermaster Sergeant/Senior Petty Officer

Company Sergeant/Chief Petty Officer

Sergeant/Petty Officer

Corporal/Leading Seaman

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (105)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

105. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the establishment, strength and vacancies of the Permanent Defence Forces in the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34528/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The table below details the establishment, strength and vacancies of the Permanent Defence Force, as of the 30th June 2019:

 Branch

 Establishment

 Strength (WTE)

 Vacancies

 Army

 7,520

 7,061

 459

 Air Corps

 886

 708

 178

 Naval Service

 1,094

 955

 139

 Total

 9,500

 8,724

 776

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) and, in that context, recruitment is ongoing. 

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (106)

Shane Cassells

Question:

106. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the expenditure by his Department on social media advertising and promotional material within the past year in tabular form. [34610/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

My Department spent €8,120 on social media advertising in the past year which was in relation to a Twitter information campaign as part of the "Be Winter Ready" 2018-2019. These costs, and other associated costs totalling €36,900.57, are outlined in the following table.

 Be Winter Ready Information Campaign 2018-2019

Cost

 Promotional HiViz waistcoats with Be Winter Ready Logo

€5,528.61

 Radio Advertisements

€25,221.96

 Two page "Be Winter Ready" advertisement feature in the Irish Independent

€6,150.00

 Sub Total - Associated Costs:

€36,900.57 

 Be Winter Ready Twitter Campaign

€5,535.00 

 Management of Twitter Campaign

€2,585.00 

 Sub Total - Social Media Advertising:

€8,120.00 

 Total Costs

€45,020.57 

My Department incurred no further spend on promotional material for the period in question.