Departmental Contracts Data

Questions (89)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

89. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the details of contracts of €25,000 or more that have been awarded by his Department or bodies under his aegis that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45061/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

All procurements in the Defence Organisation are carried out in accordance with EU and National law and guidelines. Procurement practices are scrutinised and audited by both the Department's Internal Audit Section and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Accounting Officers are accountable to the Oireachtas for compliance with all relevant EU and National procurement regulations. Beyond that, the awarding of public contracts is monitored by the EU Commission which may, if it finds that a State has disobeyed the rules, take action in the European Court of Justice. In this context there were no contracts found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019.

Army Barracks

Questions (90)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

90. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 33 of 24 September 2019, when works will commence on refurbishing the existing accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45158/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that site works on this project have commenced and are expected to be completed by mid 2020. This project involves the upgrading and refurbishment of the existing accommodation in Plunkett Block 7 for 58 personnel to modern standards.

Army Barracks

Questions (91)

Robert Troy

Question:

91. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the civilian positions which are available at Custume Barracks, Athlone; and if there is a vacancy for a painter and decorator at the facility. [45166/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Civilian employees are employed to support the operational capability of the Defence Forces and work in military installations. Recruitment of such employees is an on-going process, with vacancies being identified and filled on a priority basis following engagement with the military authorities.

There is currently a civilian position for a Craftworker (Carpenter) vacant in Custume Barracks. The closing date for receipt of applications has recently passed and interviews for the position are expected to be held in the coming weeks. My Department has not been advised of any vacancy for a painter and decorator in Custume Barracks at this time.

Defence Forces Data

Questions (92)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

92. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the annual payroll and associated costs allocated to the Defence Forces which remained unspent due to the establishment number not being achieved; and if requests were made by him or the Minister for Finance for same to be reconfigured and ring-fenced for payment of military service allowances or for military capital projects, rather than being returned to the Exchequer. [45168/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Government ensures that Vote 36 (Defence) is fully funded to provide for the pay and allowances of the target strength of 9,500 Permanent Defence Force (PDF) personnel, as set out in the White Paper on Defence.

The following table shows the budget allocation and expenditure for pay and allowances for serving members of the Permanent Defence Force for the years 2014-2018, and the savings which arose mainly due to the actual PDF strength falling below the target level.

Year

Budget

Outturn

Savings

2014

€459.0m

€431.1m

€27.9m

2015

€454.0m

€425.3m

€28.7m

2016

€453.0m

€421.9m

€31.1m

2017

€457.0m

€437.0m

€20.0m

2018

€469.1m

€439.7m

€29.4m

Savings arising within the Vote, with the approval of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), have been used to address spending pressures elsewhere in the Vote Group in accordance with Government accounting procedures. Overall, the Defence Sector budget allocation for the years 2014-2018 was €4.6 billion, and the total balance remaining unspent for those five years was €4.2 million, representing less than 0.1% of the total allocation.

Similar to other areas of the Public Sector, Permanent Defence Force pay and allowance rates are determined centrally within National Pay Agreement structures. In that context, I am delighted that the Report of the Public Service Pay Commission on Recruitment and Retention in the Defence Forces contains a broad range of recommendations providing immediate benefits to PDF members. These measures which include a 10% increase in Military Service Allowance have been recently accepted by both Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations. I am pleased to confirm that payment of these increases will be progressed over the coming weeks.

Defence Forces Strength

Questions (93)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

93. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the strength of each branch of the Defence Forces, including the Naval Service Reserve; and the strength of same in each of the years since 9 March 2011 to date. [45169/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

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

Army Personnel

Questions (94)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

94. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the strength of each branch of the Army in 1 and 2 brigades (details supplied); and the strength of each organisational structure in each of the years since October 2012 to date. [45170/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

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

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (95)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

95. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces in the ordnance corps explosive ordnance disposal team; the grade of each; and the number in November 2009. [45171/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

For reasons of operational security, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the disposition and specifics of the Defence Forces' Explosive Ordnance Disposal capabilities.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (96)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

96. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number in each branch of the Defence Forces by rank. [45172/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The following table shows the number in each branch of the Defence Forces, by rank, as at 30th September 2019, the latest date for which such data is available.

Substantive Strength of the Defence Forces - 30 September 1919

 

LT

MAJ

BRIG

COL

LT

COMDT

CAPT

LT

TOTAL

SM

BQMS

CS

CQMS

SGTS

CPLS

TOTAL

PTES

CADETS

TOTAL

GEN

GEN

GEN

COL

OFFRS

NCOS

ARMY

1

2

5

35

104

250

276

209

882

28

29

111

158

832

1278

2436

3676

78

7,072

CAREER BREAK ARMY

5

10

15

13

13

59

87

SECONDED

1

1

2

0

2

WTE ARMY

1

2

5

35

104

244

265

209

865

28

29

111

158

832

1265

2423

3617

78

6983

AIR CORPS

1

2

11

37

45

28

124

7

3

49

12

90

142

303

267

28

722

CAREER BREAK AC

1

1

0

1

2

SECONDED

WTE AIR CORPS

1

2

11

36

45

28

123

7

3

49

12

90

142

303

266

28

720

NAVAL SERVICE

1

2

14

50

35

61

163

6

6

69

13

158

144

396

381

14

954

CAREER BREAK NS

1

1

2

2

3

SECONDED

WTE NS

0

0

1

2

14

50

34

61

162

6

6

69

13

158

142

394

381

14

951

TOTAL SUBSTANTIATIVE

1

2

7

39

129

337

356

298

1169

41

38

229

183

1080

1564

3135

4324

120

8,748

TOTAL CAREER BREAKS

0

0

0

0

0

6

11

0

17

0

0

0

0

0

15

15

60

0

92

TOTAL SECONDED

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (97)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

97. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel by grade in his Department in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [45173/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The following table provides details of the number of civil service posts by grade in my Department in each of the years from 2009 to 31 October, 2019.

The Deputy will note from that the overall staffing numbers in the Department of Defence have decreased by some 14%; from 409 at the end of 2008, to a figure of 352 at 31 October, 2019. As outlined in the table, while the overall numbers have declined the profile of the posts has changed somewhat to reflect the evolving policy based issues for the defence sector, both national and international, increased activity in areas such as HR and procurement, governance and supporting engagement with the Oireachtas. In addition, the transfer of a number of transactional HR and payroll functions, involving predominantly clerical grades, to the National Shared Services Office has also impacted on the required skills and workforce profile of my Department.

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department comprises of both a civil and a military element. The civil element is headed by the Secretary General and the military element by the Chief of Staff. Both elements provide support to me as Minister in the management of defence. Defence Forces' Headquarters is the military element of the Department, with an establishment of over 320 military personnel.

Civil-military collaboration in the Department enables the delivery of defence across the three strategic dimensions set out in the Statement of Strategy; defence policy, ensuring the capacity to deliver and Defence Forces' operational outputs. Also, the White Paper on Defence, which provides the policy framework for defence to 2025, is being implemented through a project management framework built on civil-military collaboration. A number of additional civil servants have been assigned directly to work within military units to provide specialist skills and expertise in key areas such as finance, procurement and analysis.

In addition, the Department of Defence continues to play an important role in the areas of Civil Defence, Emergency Planning, enterprise development and societal supports and I am satisfied that the appropriate resources are in place to discharge the functions of my Department.

Staff numbers in the Department of Defence

GRADE

01.01.09

01.01.10

01.01.11

01.01.12

01.01.13

01.01.14

01.01.15

01.01.16

01.01.17

01.01.18

01.01.19

31.10.19

SECRETARY GENERAL

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

ASSISTANT SECRETARY

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

3

3

DIRECTOR

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

PRINCIPAL

14.5

13.7

12.6

14.6

13.8

13.7

14.7

14.7

15.1

15.1

16.1

16.4

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL

37.9

34.9

34.7

33.7

35.7

35.7

37.7

39.7

38.7

41.7

42.85

46.8

ACCOUNTANT

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1.95

LEGAL ADVISOR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

1

HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER

60.83

56.93

55.46

55.12

57.36

57.23

57.23

57.5

58.1

59.93

67.3

67.7

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER

2

2

2

2

1

1

1

3

6

5

4.95

4.95

EXECUTIVE OFFICER/STAFF OFFICER

114.68

104.53

99.36

98.56

101.26

99.86

98.29

90.29

95.13

88.75

99.47

100.84

CLERICAL OFFICER

141.6

128.6

120

118.76

117.43

114.54

114.12

106.49

103.09

94.19

84.24

90.9

STOREMAN/STOREKEEPER/  PAPERKEEPER/CLEANER

9

8

5

4

4

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

HEAD SERVICES OFFICER/    SERVICES OFFICER                                   

19.73

18

15.8

13

11

9

10

9.73

10

9.8

9.8

9.8

MINISTER'S STAFF

4

4

4

3

3

3

2

2

4

4

4

4

TOTALS

409.24

375.66

353.92

347.74

349.55

342.03

343.04

331.41

339.12

328.47

338.71

352.34

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (98)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

98. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of military police by grade in the Defence Forces; and the number in October 2009. [45174/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

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

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

Questions (99)

Jack Chambers

Question:

99. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces prescribed lariam in the past 12 months; the number prescribed the drug in each of the years 2015 to 2018; if members of the Army Ranger Wing have been prescribed the drug; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45277/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Information is not readily available for the numbers prescribed Lariam. Patient medical records are confidential and access to prescription information is restricted to medical professionals. Collation of information regarding individual prescriptions would require all Medical Officers in the Defence Forces to examine each medical record for patients treated in the periods in question.

As regards the Army Ranger Wing, the use of anti-malarial drugs is a medical matter that is decided by qualified Defence Forces medical professionals having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual.

Brexit Negotiations

Questions (100)

Micheál Martin

Question:

100. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has spoken with his French counterpart in relation to his initial comments regarding his reluctance to the flex-tension on the Brexit date. [44490/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I speak regularly with all my EU counterparts.

We have always said that an extension is better than a no deal outcome and we welcome the fact that EU 27 leaders unanimously agreed to extend the deadline of the Article 50 process to 31 January 2020. However, if the Agreement is ratified before then, the UK may exit the EU earlier.

We hope that the extra time provided by the extension will be used to ratify the Agreement, in order to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK.

Foreign Birth Registration

Questions (101)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

101. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason for the delay in processing applications for foreign birth registration certificates for persons (details supplied); the timeline for completion of the processing of the applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44342/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Foreign Births Registration, by its nature, can be a detailed and complex process, often involving official documentation related to three generations and issued by several jurisdictions. Due to the complex nature of Foreign Births Registration, it takes on average between 6 to 12 months to process an application.

With regard to the specific applications the Deputy has enquired about, I can confirm that the Foreign Birth Registration team in my Department has been in direct contact with the applicants and these applications have now been approved.

Brexit Issues

Questions (102, 103)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

102. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether the transition period allows for sufficient time for a future trading relationship to be agreed between the EU and the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44541/19]

View answer

Lisa Chambers

Question:

103. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if it is still legally possible for the UK to leave the EU without a deal at the end of the transition period if the withdrawal agreement reached between the EU and the UK is passed in the House of Commons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44542/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 103 together.

The Government remains firmly of the view that ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the European Union and the United Kingdom on 17 October remains the best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal. A no deal outcome is in no one’s interests. Once the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, the provisions in respect of citizens’ rights, financial obligations and the protocol on Northern Ireland remain in place even if no agreement on a future relationship is reached by the end of the transition period. The shared intention of the EU and the UK, as set out in the Political Declaration on the future relationship, is to conclude agreements giving effect to the future relationship by the end of 2020, including an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership. The EU is ready to start negotiations on a future relationship as soon as the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified.

While the goal is to conclude a future relationship agreement by the end of 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement provides that the transition period may be extended by one or two years. Such a decision must be taken jointly by the EU and the UK. At the same time, it should also be noted that the Political Declaration states that the European Commission is ready to propose applying on a provisional basis relevant aspects of the future relationship, in line with the applicable legal framework.We continue work to prepare for Brexit. Even with an agreement, it is still the case that the UK is leaving the EU and this will bring change.

Irish Aid

Questions (104)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

104. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if it is the policy of Irish Aid to support health services overseas that include the provision of termination of pregnancy services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44572/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Improving maternal and reproductive health is an important focus of Ireland's international development policy with health system strengthening at the heart of Ireland’s approach. Ireland works through the World Health Organisation, with organisations such the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria and with civil society partners to ensure access to essential drugs, health services, and best practice, including building more effective health workforces, with an emphasis on better health outcomes for women and children. Ireland recognises that quality health systems must include access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services if women's health outcomes are to be transformed, including reducing maternal and child mortality.

This is acknowledged in the Sustainable Development Goals: if the ambition of the SDGs is to be achieved, there must be a continued reduction in the millions of women at risk each year of dying from complications in pregnancy and childbirth. These risks are most acute in developing countries. For example, Mozambique, where Ireland has consistently invested in the health sector, achieved a reduction in its maternal mortality ratio from 700 to 318 per 100,000 births over the period 2002-15. While this was a great achievement, it is evident that more needs to be done to strengthen the health system there develop if this ratio is to approach Ireland's maternal mortality ratio of 6 per 100,000 births over the same period. The Government's policy for international development, A Better World , published last February continues Ireland’s longstanding focus on improving the health of women and girls, as part of Ireland’s contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Northern Ireland

Questions (105, 106)

Micheál Martin

Question:

105. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed the possibility of increased violence from dissident activity from the loyalist community on the Border or in Northern Ireland due to the latest withdrawal treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44610/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

106. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed the increased possibility of a violent response from loyalist activists due to the recent withdrawal treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44611/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 106 together.

The Government takes very seriously any potential threat to the peace and stability on this island, and we have noted with concern the recent comments by the PSNI Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, that, in the context of the UK exit from the European Union, “there are a small number of people in both the loyalist and nationalist communities that are motivated by their own ideology and that have the potential to bring violence back on to the streets.”

This assessment by the PSNI is of real concern, as were the statements made by Mr Byrne's predecessor, George Hamilton, warning of potential activity by dissident republican groupings against border infrastructure in the context of a hard Brexit. My cabinet colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Charles Flanagan TD, is regularly briefed by the Garda Commissioner on the risks of dissident paramilitary violence and related organised criminality in border regions. In this regard, there are very strong levels of cross border cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI and this will of course continue in all circumstances.

The Government understands the anxiety and concern being felt by communities in Northern Ireland and border areas about Brexit; however, there is also a responsibility on people , on all sides, to be measured in their comments and responsible in their leadership at community level. There is no excuse whatsoever for violence, or the threat of it. The people of this island, North and South, have consistently shown their support for peaceful, political means to resolve problems and their outright rejection of violence.

While there are of course different views, all sincerely held, on the UK approach to exiting the European Union, the agreement that the European Union has now reached with the UK Government does expressly give a real democratic voice for the people of Northern Ireland into the operation of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol.

Any deal, including this one, involves compromise. The Government has consistently tried to listen and respond to the concerns of all those affected by the UK decision to leave the EU, including people from all communities in Northern Ireland and in border regions.

It is vital that these arrangements work for Northern Ireland, and it is important that the voices of all of the political representatives of Northern Ireland, from all communities, are heard, as is provided for under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Ratifying this Withdrawal Agreement remains the best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. A no deal outcome is in no one’s interests.

In addition to on-going bilateral engagement between myself and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the two Governments discuss Security cooperation through the framework of the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference, with the participation of the Minister for Justice and Equality. Our discussions at the Conference reflect the significant and effective cross-border cooperation in monitoring and combatting the ongoing risk of violent actions and organised crime by dissident paramilitary groups.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (107)

Alan Kelly

Question:

107. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of computers in his Department that still use an operating system (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44712/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department is in the process of migrating its computer devices from the Windows 7 operating system to Windows 10. Currently there are 1,320 Windows 7 machines in use.

This number will be greatly reduced in the coming months as the process of replacing machines advances.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (108)

Alan Kelly

Question:

108. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his Department will not be forced to pay additional premium payments to a company (details supplied) once support for an operating system expires in January 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44728/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department is in the process of migrating computer devices from the Windows 7 operating system to Windows 10. For technical reasons this migration may not be fully complete by January 2020. In this context, Windows 7 machines will continue to receive security updates despite changes in the licensing model. The licensing costs associated with a limited number of security upgrades are not yet finalised but are expected to be modest.