Defence Forces Training

Questions (43)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

43. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the skills for life employment support scheme; the overall budget; the number of participants to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50743/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Skills for Life Employment Support Scheme has completed six iterations to date. The approximate cost per iteration is €200,000. A total of 124 persons have commenced and completed the scheme to date, as outlined in the following table. The next iteration of the programme is currently scheduled to begin in Renmore Barracks, Galway on 15th June 2020.

Iteration

Location

Dates

Number of Persons who commenced and completed the Defence Forces Employment Support Scheme

Pilot Programme2016

Gormanston Camp, Co. Meath

20th June to 26th August 2016

25

First Iteration in 2017

Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick

22nd May to 28th July 2017

15

Second Iteration in 2017

Gormanston Camp, Co. Meath

9th October to 15th December 2017

16

First Iteration in 2018

Collins Barracks, Cork

11th June to 16th August 2018

24

Second Iteration in 2018

Defence Forces Training Centre, Co. Kildare

14th October to 13th December 2018

20

Iteration in 2019

Gormanston Camp, Co. Meath

13th June to 16th August 2019

24

Civil Defence

Questions (44)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

44. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will consider locating the Kildare Civil Defence headquarters in the Curragh Camp; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50777/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

Kildare Civil Defence are currently based in the former Devoy Military Barracks in Naas.

While my Department may provide occasional financial support to some local authorities towards their Civil Defence accommodation, the 2015 Government White Paper on Defence sets out that responsibility for the accommodation of local Civil Defence units rests with individual local authorities.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (45)

Seán Fleming

Question:

45. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of persons employed on an agency basis in his Department and in each agency under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50801/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

There are currently no persons employed on an agency basis by my Department.

I am advised by the military authorities that, as of 5 December 2019, there are 31 persons employed on an agency basis by the Defence Forces. This data is based on individual roles being filled, as required. As this process is dependant on the ongoing requirements of the service, the Deputy will appreciate that the figures will fluctuate from time to time.

Defence Forces Strength

Questions (46, 48)

Jack Chambers

Question:

46. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the strength of the Permanent Defence Forces as of 30 November 2019; the breakdown of each rank across the three services; the gender breakdown of same in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50850/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

48. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of additional recruits the Permanent Defence Forces have taken on in 2019 as of 30 November 2019 with regard to the three services; the gender breakdown of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50852/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 48 together.

The following table shows the strength of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) as at 31 October 2019, the latest date for which such data is available, broken down by rank, service and gender.

As at 30th November 2019, 605 personnel (of which 42 were female) were inducted into the Permanent Defence Force. In addition, 10 (of which 2 were female) PDF serving soldiers were awarded a cadetship.

Of those inducted, 503 were General Service Recruits and the following table provides the requested breakdown of these Recruits.

Branch

Male

Female

Total

Army

359

26

385

Navy

100

2

102

Air Corps

16

0

16

Total

475

28

503

Further information is available in the following link:

Rank, Gender

Defence Forces Reserve Strength

Question No. 48 answered with Question No. 46.

Questions (47)

Jack Chambers

Question:

47. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the strength of each of the three services of the Reserve Defence Forces as of 30 November 2019 by rank; the gender breakdown of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50851/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Reserve Defence Force (RDF) is comprised of the First Line Reserve (FLR), the Army Reserve (AR) and the Naval Service Reserve (NSR).

The most up to date figures available for the effective strength of the Army Reserve (AR) and Naval Service Reserve (NSR), as of 31 October 2019, are set out in the following link:

Army Reserve Nos.

End of month returns are usually available by the middle of the following month and hence November returns are still being compiled by the military authorities.

The Government appreciates the service of the Reserve Defence Force and recognises its importance in contributing to Ireland's defence capability.

Question No. 48 answered with Question No. 46.

Defence Forces Reserve Strength

Questions (49)

Jack Chambers

Question:

49. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of additional recruits the Reserve Defence Forces have taken on in 2019 as of 30 November 2019 with regard to the three services; the gender breakdown of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50853/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I am advised by the military authorities that, as of 30 November 2019, 114 new members have been inducted into the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve during 2019, broken down as follows:

Total number inducted

Number of females inducted

Army Reserve (AR)

97

8

Naval Service Reserve (NSR)

17

2

The Government remains committed to on-going recruitment in the AR and NSR. A recent competition for recruitment to both the AR and NSR closed in October 2019 and it is anticipated that further recruitment will arise from this.

Defence Forces Transport

Questions (50)

Willie Penrose

Question:

50. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of armoured logistics vehicles purchased for the Defence Forces in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; if extra armoured logistics vehicles will be purchased in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50951/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government, including overseas deployments.

The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me. Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process. The principal aim over the period of the White Paper will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements, including response to security risks and other emergencies, both at home and overseas.

The White Paper on Defence provides that Ireland's ongoing active participation in a range of peacekeeping and crisis management missions is a key policy requirement. While each mission has elements of danger, it is the Government's position that all actions should be taken to minimise threats to the safety of personnel. Armoured vehicles provide essential force protection and, in this context in accordance with the equipment planning process, the fleet of armoured vehicles is subject to regular review to ensure that it meets operational requirements both at home and overseas.

The White Paper identified the procurement of a small number of armoured logistics vehicles for overseas missions as a force protection requirement. A contract valued at €7.5m (incl. VAT) was awarded to an Irish company, Westward Scania, in 2017 for the provision of 10 new armoured logistic vehicles for the Defence Forces, in order to provide combat service support personnel with the requisite force protection to operate in a supporting role in high threat environments. The vehicles were delivered in 2018 and are in operational service. The procurement of these vehicles also enhances Ireland's ability to participate in integrated multinational deployments. There are currently no plans to procure additional armoured logistics vehicles. The number of vehicles purchased in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 is set out in the following table.

I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary resources available to them, including a modern and effective range of equipment which is line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.

Year

Number of Armoured Logistics Vehicles Purchased

2017

0

2018

10

2019 (to date)

0

Middle East Issues

Questions (51)

Seán Crowe

Question:

51. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice that food products from the illegal colonial settlements of Israel in Palestine must be clearly labelled as products originating in occupied territories to allow consumers to make informed choices when they shop; his plans to ensure that products from illegal Israeli colonial settlements will now be labelled accordingly in order to enter the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50716/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

A case in a French court, challenging the implementation of EU rules on the labelling of foodstuffs originating from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union in June 2018.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza and the Golan Heights, are all territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967. International law is clear that Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal, and Ireland and the EU have made their views on settlements known on multiple occasions. Most relevantly to this case, under international law they are not part of the State of Israel.

Clear and non-misleading indication of origin for certain goods is an essential part of the EU's consumer policy. In the specific case of the occupied Palestinian territory, an Interpretative Notice on Indications of Origin was published by the European Commission on 12 November 2015. This provides guidance to importers and retailers on how EU rules on place of origin labelling should be applied in this case.

In relation to the case referred to the Court of Justice in June 2018, Ireland, as an interested Member State, lodged observations. The court’s judgment, issued on 12 November 2019, found that foodstuffs originating in territories occupied by the State of Israel, must bear the indication of their territory of origin, and when these products originate from an Israeli settlement, this must also be made clear on the label.

The Court of Justice’s ruling is an interpretation of France’s implementation of the Commission’s Notice and associated EU Regulations. It essentially does not change the situation. However, my Department is currently examining the judgment and reflecting on whether there are implications for Ireland. We will consult, if required, with other Departments in the coming period.

The Commission Interpretative Notice on Indications of Origin of 12 November 2015 is already on my Department’s website. It was circulated to other Departments at the time of publication to bring the guidelines to the attention of relevant bodies dealing with labelling or consumer protection. Accuracy of product labelling will continue to be a consumer protection issue, monitored and enforced as heretofore.

Human Rights

Questions (52)

Seán Crowe

Question:

52. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to new documents released in the media regarding the mass detention of Uighur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang; if he has raised this issue with his Chinese counterpart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50717/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government is aware of the recent reports in the media regarding the mass detention of Uighur and other ethic minorities in Xinjiang, but as a matter of practice, does not comment on leaked documents.

Nevertheless, our position on the situation in Xinjiang is clear, and we remain deeply concerned over the credible reports of the treatment of ethnic Uighurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region. We, along with our EU partners, take these reports very seriously and have raised our concerns at official and political level with our Chinese counterparts on a consistent basis.

On 29 October this year, Ireland was one of 23 States to sign up to a Joint Statement at the UN Third Committee in New York on this issue. This statement called for the Chinese Government to urgently implement eight recommendations made by the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination related to Xinjiang, including by refraining from the arbitrary detention of Uighurs and members of other Muslim communities.

In July this year, Ireland was also one of 22 States to sign up to a Joint Letter at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This letter expressed concerns about credible reports of arbitrary detention in large-scale places of detention, as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. It called on China to uphold its national laws and international obligations, and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang.

This issue has been raised on multiple occasions at EU level. In April 2019, it was raised at both the EU-China Summit and EU-China Human Rights Dialogue. During the dialogue the EU noted that while actions to counter terrorism are essential, these actions must respect the principle of proportionality, fundamental freedoms, and international laws. The EU has also raised this issue at multilateral level, calling on China to allow meaningful, unrestricted, and unsupervised access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ireland, along with our EU partners, will continue to raise our concerns during contacts with Chinese authorities in bilateral and multilateral contexts, at both official and political level.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (53)

Seán Fleming

Question:

53. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of persons employed on an agency basis in his Department and in each agency under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50805/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

No agency staff are employed at the Headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Like the majority of Foreign Services, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s diplomatic missions are staffed by a mix of posted officers recruited at Headquarters and locally engaged staff. As posted officers rotate to and from HQ, locally engaged staff are essential to the operation of diplomatic Missions abroad as they provide continuity to the operation of the Mission. They also possess skillsets which are essential to the smooth running of Missions abroad such as administrative and technical skills, a deep knowledge of the local environment and culture, and a fluency in local languages.

Employment agency staff are employed in a small number of missions where the necessity arises. Such missions include new Missions, those with particular complexities in the local labour market or those where changes in the workload necessitate an assessment of the number and type of roles or skills needed to be undertaken. Open competitions for direct employment of locally engaged staff are generally held once there is clarity on operational requirements and the number and profile of the roles required.

There are 38 agency staff employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Data Protection

Questions (54)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

54. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the basis on which his Department allows a company (details supplied) to make a demand for a passport and-or a driver licence issued here as a method of verifying the identity of a person; if he has consulted with the company in respect of the way in which and-or the location it stores customer identification; if he has consulted with the company on the way in which it shares the information it collects from persons with third parties; if he has met with the owners and directors of the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50837/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Company in question provides a financial service which is licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the United Kingdom. It is a decision for customers what personal data they provide to the company.

The Passport Service has not consulted with the company in any respect. I have not met with the owners or the directors of the company.

EU Meetings

Questions (55)

Willie Penrose

Question:

55. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if EU security issues were discussed at the October 2019 EU General Affairs Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50948/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee T.D., represented Ireland at the General Affairs Coucil (GAC) meeting in Luxembourg on 15 October 2019.

EU security issues were not on the meeting agenda for the GAC. At the Council meeting, Ministers discussed the EU Enlargement and the Stabilisation and Association Process for Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia. At the GAC meeting, Minister McEntee stated our strong support for opening accession negotiations with Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia, in line with the European Commission’s recommendations in May.

The Council also held an exchange of views on the draft Conclusions for the European Council on 17-18 October 2019. The Finnish Presidency provided an overview of the seminar of the future of EU transparency that was held in Brussels on the 24th of September 2019.

International Relations

Questions (56)

Willie Penrose

Question:

56. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has spoken recently to the new Canadian Foreign Minister; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50950/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I would like to congratulate François-Philippe Champagne on his appointment as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada and to wish him success in his new role. While I have not yet had the opportunity to speak with Minister Champagne, who took up office on 20 November last, I am looking forward to engaging with him in the near future.

In particular, I look forward to briefing the Minister on our new Canada Strategy with its enhanced political and diplomatic focus on Canada within the overall context of Global Ireland and our expanded global footprint. I will highlight the impressive increase in bilateral trade, tourism and investment flows in recent years. I will also recall Ireland’s priorities in the context of Brexit and thank Minister Champagne for Canada’s continued support for the Good Friday Agreement and the Peace Process.

In line with the Strategy, we are devoting considerable new resources to the bilateral relationship with Canada, with a new Consulate General opening in Vancouver in October 2018 and another Consulate General planned for Toronto in the coming years. In parallel, we are expanding the presence and reach of our Agency network across Canada, with Enterprise Ireland having recently announced its intention to open an office in Montreal. We are also establishing a dedicated US and Canada Directorate at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland to support and oversee delivery of the Strategy.

With our shared attachment to the multilateral rules-based order and values as well as our shared commitment to free trade, I am confident that Ireland and Canada will continue to cooperate closely on emerging global challenges. I look forward to discussing these issues with Minister Champagne in due course.

State Claims Agency Data

Questions (57)

Michael McGrath

Question:

57. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount paid by the State Claims Agency in personal injury claims in each of the years 2010 to 2019 by delegated State authority; the amount paid in medical negligence cases in the same period, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51016/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The State Claims Agency (SCA) is part of the National Treasury Management Agency, which is a body under the aegis of the Minister for Finance. As such, the SCA have supplied the information included in this response, and confirmed that it is correct as of 30 November 2019.

The information in the report in the following link has been extracted from the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

The SCA have advised that the criteria used in the compiling of the following report is as follows:

- Total amount paid for each of the years 2010 to 2019 inclusive, year to date (This excludes the deduction of reimbursements or third party contributions).

- Payments can relate to damages, legal fees and other expert costs.

- Personal Injury includes incidents related to a person only, which includes service users, staff and members of the public. This excludes property damage, crash collision and non-crash collision claims but includes personal injury claims related to crash collisions.

- Healthcare Sector includes Healthcare and Healthcare Private.

- In order to avoid breaches of data protection legislation, some delegated State authorities have been merged where appropriate to avoid possible identification of individual payments. In this regard, we are only showing individual delegated State authorities in respect of which total payments, over the period (2010-2019YTD), exceed €200,000. All other State authorities with payments made in the given years have been merged into “Other” category. In addition, for confidentiality reasons we have redacted amounts paid below €50,000 per year or where payment amount may breach confidentiality.

- This report is correct as of 30/11/2019.

As well as the tables in the following report there are a series of definitions in support of the data contained in the report.

Payments

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (58)

Shane Cassells

Question:

58. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Finance the amount spent on purchasing mobile phone contracts for staff within his Department for work-related business in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [50761/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the information requested is outlined in tabular form for the years 2017, 2018 and for 2019 to-date.

2017

2018

2019

€84,186.78

€59,347.66

€53,368.58

Details for 2016 are currently not readily available, however, I wish to advise the Deputy that a deferred reply will be issued to him in respect of this material, in line with Standing Order 42A.

Industrial Relations

Questions (59)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

59. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the commitment to recognise the Labour Court as an integral mechanism of the State in dealing with industrial relations issues and a Labour Court recommendation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50770/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy, this question has previously received a substantive response under Question No. 410 on 24th July, 2018 (33545/18) and answered under the bailiwick of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Any update on this matter is best sought through that Department.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (60)

Seán Fleming

Question:

60. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons employed on an agency basis in his Department and in each agency under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50804/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are no agency staff employed in the Department of Finance.

With regard to the 17 bodies under the aegis of my Department, I am informed that 13 have no staff employed on an agency basis. These are the Credit Review Office, the Credit Union Advisory Committee, the Credit Union Restructuring Board, the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, Home Building Finance Ireland, the Investor Compensation Company DAC, the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the National Asset Management Agency, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and the Tax Appeals Commission

The number of persons employed on an agency basis in each of the remaining 4 bodies can be found in following the table.

Body

Number of persons employed on an agency basis

Office of the Controller and Auditor General

2

Central Bank

82

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

12

National Treasury Management Agency

7

Data Protection

Questions (61)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

61. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the basis on which his Department allows a company (details supplied) to make a demand for a passport and or a driver licence issued here as a method of verifying the identity of a person; if he has consulted with the company in respect of the way in which and or the location it stores of customer identification; if he has consulted with the company on the way in which it shares the information it collects from persons with third parties; if he has met with the owners and directors of the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50839/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised that Revolut is authorised in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 and is passporting its services into Ireland on a freedom of services basis.

I am further advised that, in the area of financial services legislation, section 33 of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010, as amended (“the Act”), sets out obligations in relation to the identification and verification of customers and beneficial owners. Section 33(2) sets out the following measures that shall be applied by designated persons (which include banks and credit unions):

“(a) identifying the customer, and verifying the customer's identity on the basis of documents (whether or not in electronic form), or information, that the designated person has reasonable grounds to believe can be relied upon to confirm the identity of the customer, including -

(i) documents from a government source (whether or not a State government source), or (ii) any prescribed class of documents, or any prescribed combination of classes of documents;”.

It is important to note that the Act is not prescriptive as to what documentation and information a designated person must obtain, or the methods by which such documentation and information should be gathered, in order to comply with its customer due diligence obligations. A designated person may apply the measures that it deems appropriate in accordance with the designated person’s own risk based approach; however, the designated person must ensure that the measures applied adhere to the legislative requirements under the Act. The Act also requires designated persons to keep such documents or information used for the purpose of identification and verification up to date.

I have no statutory role in relation to data protection. If the Deputy has any concerns in relation to data protection I would suggest that she contact the Data Protection Commission.

I can confirm that, in my roles as Minister for Finance and Minster for Public, Expenditure and Reform, that I have not met the owners and directors of the company.

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Data

Questions (62)

Michael McGrath

Question:

62. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number and value of open appeals with the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman by financial product, that is, mortgage, pensions and so on; the number of appeals that are related to the tracker mortgage scandal; the number and value of open appeals at the end of each month since the creation of the ombudsman; and the number and value of legacy appeals carried over from the Financial Services Ombudsman and the Pensions Ombudsman, in tabular form. [51017/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I regret it was not possible to provide the information sought in the time available and, therefore, I will make arrangements to provide the information to the Deputy in line with Standing Orders.