Defence Forces Remuneration

Questions (1)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

1. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason a member of the Defence Forces not rationed on duty can claim a sub-allowance for €33 tax free but will only be paid €20 for the 24 hour duty. [34770/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The current rates (subject to PAYE) of Security Duty Allowance for performing a 24 hour security duty are:

- €47.59 gross for personnel who enlisted before January 2013 

- €50.09 gross for personnel who enlisted after January 2013 and

- €48.39 for officers.

It is an allowance for security duties performed and is paid in addition to basic pay and Military Service Allowance (MSA). It is incorrect to claim to that the remuneration for a 24 hour duty is only €20. 

In normal circumstances personnel are rationed whilst on 24 hour duty, therefore not incurring any out of pocket expense for subsistence.

Subsistence allowance  is a payment towards subsistence costs incurred when personnel are necessarily absent from home and work location on official duties. Subsistence allowance payable is not intended to meet the whole cost of subsistence when absent from home and work location and is not intended to be a source of emolument or profit. In general, Subsistence Allowance is not taxable once it is paid in accordance with Revenue rules and guidelines. Where rations are provided, no subsistence can be claimed.

Consular Services

Questions (2)

Niall Collins

Question:

2. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has liaised with officials in the Department of Defence regarding a person (details supplied) and efforts to return them here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34778/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The matter referred to by the Deputy is complex and primarily a consular issue. I understand that consular assistance is provided to all Irish citizens abroad when requested and I have instructed my officials to provide all appropriate support to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who are the lead State Department in that regard.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Questions (3)

Michael McGrath

Question:

3. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the name of each person employed as an adviser or special adviser to him and the Minister of State in his Department; the salary of each in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34843/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The following table provides details of the persons currently employed as advisers to me, as Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence.  Their salary is the scale for Principals (standard scale) appointed on, or after, 6 April 1995.

Post

Name

Salary Scale

Special Adviser

John Coughlan

€85,823 - €105,552

Press Adviser

Niall O'Connor

€85,823 - €105,552

Defence Forces Retirements

Questions (4)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

4. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the position with regard to the case of a person (details supplied) who wishes to leave the Army; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34917/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Section 75 of the Defence Act 1954 provides that an enlisted member of the Defence Forces is entitled to purchase discharge from the Defence Forces, except during a period of emergency. Defence Forces Regulations A.10 provide that where a non-commissioned officer or private wishes to discharge from the Permanent Defence Force and has completed less than 12 years in his or her current engagement (other than where he or she seeks to discharge within three months of his or her attestation) he or she is entitled to his or her discharge by purchase. In addition to setting out the scale of payments applicable, the Regulations provide that following the payment of the amount due, a person's discharge shall not proceed until such date as the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) or the Director of HR Branch, subject to the exigencies of the service and the question of his or her replacement, may decide. A discharge under these circumstances cannot be delayed longer than three months after the date of lodgement of the appropriate sum.

This individual referred to was discharged from the Defence Forces at the end of August 2019.

Defence Forces Pensions

Questions (5)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Question:

5. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason a person (details supplied) did not receive an Army pension after 21 years of service. [34965/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The position is that the individual in this case did not have the minimum pensionable service required to be eligible for a pension from the Department of Defence.   

In general, the minimum service required by a non-commissioned officer or private of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) who enlisted prior to 1 April 2004, to qualify for a pension under the Defence Forces (Pensions) Schemes is 21 years or 12 years if discharged on medical grounds. 

Under the Scheme rules, service under the age of 16 years, and service in the First Line Reserve are not counted as reckonable service.  

There are no discretionary provisions contained in the Defence Forces (Pensions) Schemes which would allow for a pension to be awarded to a former member of the PDF without that member having the required minimum service of 21 years to qualify for a pension.

I can however confirm that the individual in this case was awarded a gratuity appropriate to his service and rank on his discharge from the PDF.   I can also confirm that the individual was aware at the time of discharge that he would not be eligible for a pension due to not having the required minimum service.

Air Corps

Questions (6)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

6. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his attention or that of his predecessors has been drawn to correspondence in 2016 between the HSA and the Air Corps regarding personal protective equipment (details supplied); if so, the action taken on foot of the correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35006/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

As I outlined to the Deputy in my reply to her Parliamentary Question of 27 November 2018, following three inspections at casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel during 2016, the Health and Safety Authority issued a Report of Inspection to the Air Corps on 21 October 2016. This report listed a number of advisory items for follow up including the provision and use of personal protective equipment. 

The resultant Air Corps improvement plan confirmed the Air Corps' full commitment to implementing improved safety measures that protect workers and ensure risks are as low as reasonably practicable. The improvement plan was implemented over eight phases, seven of which the military authorities have advised are now complete, while phase eight, chemical awareness training and respiratory equipment training, is a continuous process.

Defence Forces Reserve Strength

Questions (7)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

7. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of active members of the Reserve Defence Forces; the number of new reservists recruited during the 2018 campaign; if a recruitment campaign will open in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35118/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Reserve Defence Force (RDF) is comprised of three elements, the First Line Reserve (FLR), the Army Reserve (AR) and the Naval Service Reserve (NSR). The Government appreciates the service of the members of the RDF and recognises the important role that the three elements play in contributing to Ireland's defence capability. The White Paper on Defence is clear that there is a continued requirement to retain and develop the RDF and it is currently on a development path arising from the recommendations of the White Paper.

As of 31st July 2019, the substantive strength of the First Line Reserve is 296 personnel; the effective strength of the Army Reserve is 1549 personnel and that of the Naval Service Reserve is 141 personnel.

The most recent recruitment campaign for the Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve was held in March this year. 

The following table contains the number of inductions to the AR and NSR in 2018 and 2019 (to 21/08/2019):

 Year

 Army Reserve

 Naval Service Reserve

 Total

 2019

 69

 17

 86

 2018

 129

 13

 142

*based on figures provided by the Military Authorities on 21/08/2019

The Government remains committed to on-going recruitment in the RDF. Supports being provided to maximise recruitment to the Reserve include the use of social media, local radio and outreach activities by RDF members. The next recruitment campaign for the AR and NSR is scheduled for September/October of this year.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (8)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

8. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the amount expended on the renewal of licences (details supplied) by his Department since 2009 to date in 2019; the amount projected to be spent on the renewal of such licences by his Department over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35338/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The total expenditure on the renewal of Lotus Notes licences by the Department of Defence since 2009 to date in 2019 is €134,241.

My Department continuously reviews software technologies in use and therefore, licence requirements and costs are subject to change.  However, if current licensing structures and requirements were to remain unchanged, the total projected spend for Lotus Notes licence renewals would be in the region of €60,000 over the next five years.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Questions (9)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

9. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the names of external consultancies that delivered and continue to deliver advice and training on all aspects of GDPR in the context of preparedness and ongoing upskilling of staff regarding the regulation; the cost expended on the external advice and training of same to date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35573/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

In preparation for GDPR a wide range of measures were rolled out to staff in my Department to enhance awareness and understanding so as to comply with the requirements of the Regulation.  A data protection officer was appointed and a data protection working group, consisting of representatives from right across my Department, was established. The role of the working group is to ensure awareness and to support the design and implementation of GDPR across the organisation.  GDPR training sessions and briefings were provided to all staff, and an awareness campaign was rolled out. Training continues to be provided as required.  Details of all training providers and expenditure, which was organised through the Learning and Development Unit, are outlined in the following table:

 Year

Consultancies/Providers

Expenditure

Total Expenditure per Year 

 2016

Legal Island

 €198.00

 €198.00

 2017

Academy of European Law (ERA) Germany

 €588.60

 

 

PDP Training

 €995.00

 

 

Griffith College

 €280.00

 

 

Irish Computer Skills

 €440.00

 

 

Legal Island

 €495.00

 

 

Commercial Media   Group (CMG)

 €448.95

 

 

Institute of Public Administration (IPA)

 €1,350.00

 

 

Public Affairs Ireland (PAI)

 €1,030.00

 €5,627.55

 2018

Information Security Assurance Services (ISAS)

 €13,500.00

 

 

Legal Island

 €3,415.00

 

 

Irish Sign Language Interpreting

 €1,058.09

 

 

Colleary & Co

 €1,107.00

 

 

Commercial Media   Group (CMG

 €1,185.00

 

 

Sytorus

 €11,750.00

 

 

Public Affairs Ireland (PAI)

 €2,425.00

 

 

Institute of Public Administration (IPA)

 €420.00

 

 

PDP Training

 €1,702.75

 

 

Irish Computer Skills

 €450.00

 €37,012.84

2019

Sytorus

 €1,000.00

 

 

Irish Academy of Computer Training

 €7,104.00

 €8,104.00

Departmental Customer Charters

Questions (10)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

10. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of complaints his Department received under the customer service charter in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; if his attention has been drawn to issues and or problems in having complaints registered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35641/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The following table outlines the number of complaints received by my Department, under its Customer Service Charter, in 2017, 2018, and to date in 2019.  No issues or problems with the registration of complaints have been drawn to my attention, or to the attention of my Department.

 Year

Number of complaints

 2017

5  

 2018

0

 2019 (to date)

0

Postal Voting

Questions (11)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

11. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 100 of 11 June 2019, if a review has been completed by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35846/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I have been advised by the military authorities that their review of the operation of the postal voting system has concluded and the report is currently being finalised. 

Brexit Preparations

Questions (12, 13)

Joan Burton

Question:

12. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of additional Army personnel he plans to assign to the border with the UK for preparedness for the forthcoming departure of the UK from the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36014/19]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

13. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Army personnel he plans to assign to the border with the UK if there is an agreement with the UK by 31 October 2019 and in the event of a no-deal Brexit, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36015/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together.

As part of a whole of Government approach, my Department continues to engage in forward planning with the other Departments involved in addressing all issues relevant to the UK's decision to leave the European Union. On 9th July last, the Government published the Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update. This reflects the extensive work which has taken place at EU level and on a whole-of-Government basis, including the Brexit Omnibus Act 2019, to prepare for a no deal Brexit.  It sets out the next steps to be taken between now and 31st October.

While the UK's decision to leave the EU does not of itself give rise to additional border control requirements, it remains the Government’s view that the best way to protect the Good Friday Agreement and avoid a hard border is for the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, to be ratified. 

The Government remains committed to the avoidance of a hard border and Ireland and the EU are at one on this.  The Government is working closely with the European Commission to meet the shared twin objectives of protecting the Single Market and Ireland’s place in it, and protecting the Good Friday Agreement, including avoiding physical infrastructure at the border. This work is looking at necessary checks to preserve Ireland’s full participation in the Single Market and Customs Union.

In terms of deployment of military personnel to the border, as I have said in the past, primary responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Minister for Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána. Accordingly, responsibility for the security aspect of border control rests with An Garda Síochána, while the Revenue Commissioners also have responsibilities relating to their particular mandate.

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 provide assistance and support to An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. The Defence Forces also provide support to the Revenue Commissioners, again, when requested to do so.

There is ongoing close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters and regular coordination and liaison meetings take place. My Department continues to monitor the ongoing situation to ensure that both it and the Defence Forces are fully prepared to address any potential issues that might arise in the defence area as a consequence of Brexit.

Brexit Expenditure

Questions (14)

Joan Burton

Question:

14. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the cost to date in 2019 and the expected cost in 2019 to his Department of expenses payable to staff being relocated to work in respect of the border with the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36016/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The relocation of civil servants in my Department to work in respect of the border with the United Kingdom has not arisen, nor is such relocation anticipated. As such, no costs have arisen, or are expected to arise in that regard in 2019.

Parliamentary Questions Data

Questions (15)

Alan Kelly

Question:

15. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of oral parliamentary questions he has answered as Minister for Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36139/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The table below provides details of the number of Oral Parliamentary Questions I have answered in each of the years following my appointment in May 2016 as Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence.

 Year

Number of Oral Parliamentary Questions Answered

 2016

55 

 2017

83

 2018

78

 2019

50 (to end of July)

Departmental Internships

Questions (16)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

16. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of unpaid internships issued and or granted to persons to work in his Department over the past five years to 28 August 2019; the number of persons that took up unpaid internship roles in that timeframe; if his Department continues to offer unpaid internships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36145/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

My Department did not offer any internships, paid or unpaid, in the period since 28 August 2014. No consideration is being given to offering internships at this time.

Protected Disclosures

Questions (17)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

17. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the safeguards in place to protect the identity of the person who has made the protected disclosure in instances in which protected disclosures are shared with external consultants; if the person that made the protected disclosure is notified in advance; if their consent is required to share the disclosure with external consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36202/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) have put in place a national Framework for services related to the receipt and investigation of Protected Disclosures. My Department has recently signed a contract with Mazars arising from a tender competition under this Framework. The Framework arrangement and contract clearly set out and provide for the protections provided to persons under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.  This includes a comprehensive confidentiality clause. This is in line with Section 16 (1) of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 which provides that:

" a person to whom a protected disclosure is made, and any person to whom a protected disclosure is referred in the performance of that person’s duties, shall not disclose to another person any information that might identify the person by whom the protected disclosure was made". 

Section 16 (2) (c) (i) of the Act states that information that may identify the person making the protected disclosure may be disclosed if this is reasonably necessary in order to conduct the investigation. Section 16 (2) (c) (i) states that Section 16 (1) does not apply if "the person to whom the protected disclosure was made or referred reasonably believes that disclosing any such information is necessary for the effective investigation of the relevant wrongdoing concerned." 

However, in general the practice in the Department of Defence is that the discloser would be made aware of the investigation save in exceptional circumstances.

Cyber Security Protocols

Questions (18)

Jack Chambers

Question:

18. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if there are dedicated, professionally trained and certified cyber security staff for cyber security protocols under the remit of his Department; if such specialists are being recruited; if his Department maintains a risk register of security breaches; if so, if there are staff that analyse, log and maintain such a register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36225/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

My Department places a high priority on cyber security and implements a programme of continuous review in order to keep up to date with current threat levels.

In line with best practice, the Department of Defence fully cooperates and collaborates with and takes guidance from Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is located in the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment and have the lead role in this area.

From an operational and security perspective, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on specific details in relation to cybersecurity.

Departmental Operations

Questions (19)

Jack Chambers

Question:

19. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department has a disaster recovery plan, business continuity plan and or disaster recovery sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36241/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

My Department has a Business Continuity Plan.  In addition, it also has numerous processes and procedures in place across multiple sites to address disaster recovery.

Defence Forces Reserve

Questions (20)

Jack Chambers

Question:

20. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he plans to remedy the issue with Defence Forces regulation R5 which prohibits Reserve Defence Forces officers commissioned after 2005 from being promoted above the rank of lieutenant and which was identified three years ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36357/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

It was not possible provide a reply on this matter in the timeframe available. I will revert to the Deputy with a reply as soon as possible.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Questions (21)

Brendan Smith

Question:

21. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when pay and conditions for members of the Permanent Defence Force will be improved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36435/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The recovery in the economy has provided the fiscal resources to provide for a fair and sustainable recovery in public service pay scales.

Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay.

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 focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay. By the end of the current Public Service Pay agreement the payscales 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 public service who joined the Defence Forces since 2011, may also benefit from the measures, in relation to interventions at points 4 and 8 of the pay scales. This measure is effective from 1 March 2019.

In accordance with the provisions of Public Services Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission, with conducting a more comprehensive examination, of the specific recruitment and retention challenges in the Defence Sector. The Commission’s Report was approved by Government on 4 July 2019.

The report recommends a range of measures to improve recruitment and retention in the Permanent Defence Force. This includes a 10% increase in Military Service Allowance, the restoration of the rates of certain allowances specific to the Defence Forces cut in accordance with the Haddington Road Agreement and the re-introduction of a service commitment scheme for Air Corp pilots.

Implementation of theses recommendations can commence when the Permanent Defence Force representative associations (PDFORRA and RACO), have considered and accepted the report.

The Report also contains a range of recommendations aimed at improving workforce planning, recruitment and conditions of service.

The Government agreed an extensive implementation plan for the report and work on this has commenced.