Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Questions (84)

Martin Heydon


84. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of progress of the White Paper on Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53876/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The White Paper on Defence sets the defence policy agenda over a ten year planning horizon and covers all aspects of defence within overall security policy. The White Paper on Defence – Update 2019, which I published last week following Government approval, is the first in a new fixed cycle of defence reviews which the Government decided to introduce when it approved the White Paper in 2015. The Update follows the approach set out in the White Paper.  It provides that these reviews are to consider progress made since 2015 and any revisions required.  Further, these reviews are to encompass a fully updated assessment of the security environment with a fresh consideration of implications for overall policy requirements, associated tasks, capability development and resourcing.

As part of this, the Update includes a comprehensive review of overall progress with White Paper implementation. Since publication of the White Paper, a total of 95 separate projects have been identified for completion over a ten-year period. Included in the Update is a full breakdown of the current status of all projects and actions as well as a full report, on a chapter by chapter basis, of the outcome of the review of implementation. (The Update is available to download on my Department’s website.)

Implementation of all actions and projects is being carried out by civil-military teams on a phased basis over a ten-year period out to 2025 and is receiving continuous joint civil/military oversight of progress. All of the actions or projects are being implemented in addition to the substantial body of work conducted by the civil and military elements of the Department of Defence on a daily basis. 

To provide flexibility, projects may be sub-divided or merged, changing the top-line number. Currently,  the number to be implemented stands at 95, with this number subject to further change as the process evolves. 42 of these projects have been initiated with 15 closed and others due to close shortly. The White Paper Update and the Government’s High Level Plan to implement the Report of the Public Service Pay Commission will result in reprioritisation of certain projects.  

Implementation on a phased basis is necessary in order to reflect Programme for a Partnership Government and Strategy Statement commitments, the related nature of some projects and resourcing implications.

While it is currently intended to have all projects initiated or completed by the end of the ten year implementation programme, work in certain areas will continue beyond 2025 in order to ensure that changes, improvements and actions envisaged in the White Paper are sustained and that the positive outcomes endure and are embedded in the day to day business of the Defence Organisation.