The Programme for Government committed to an independent commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the Defence Forces. The independent Commission on the Defence Forces was established by Government in December 2020, with a mandate to report within 12 months. The Commission’s overall approach is guided and informed by both the White Paper on Defence 2015 and the White Paper Update 2019. The work of the Commission will inform the future development of the Defence Forces and it's terms of reference encompasses the following matters;
- Structure and size of the Defence Forces encompassing consideration of appropriate capabilities, structures and staffing.
- Leveraging the capabilities of the Reserve Defence Force in their supports to the Permanent Defence Force and make service in the RDF more attractive.
- Governance and high level command and control structures in the Defence Forces.
- The evolution of remuneration systems and structures in the Defence Forces.
- A strategic perspective on HR policies and associated strategies, recruitment, retention and career progression.
As part of a broad consultation process, the Commission invited submissions from individuals and organisations on matters related to its terms of reference. The Commission received nearly 500 submissions, all of which have been published on their website.
I understand that the Commission has met with a broad stakeholder group including the Defence Forces Representative Associations, commissioned and enlisted members of the Defence Forces, senior officials and personnel from my Department and the Defence Forces as well as other groups. Members of the Commission conducted site visits to a number military locations across the country, meeting nearly 1,000 military personnel.
The Chairman of the Commission Mr. Aidan O'Driscoll met with members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in April to discuss the on-going work of the Commission. The Commission also held two webinars, one in conjunction with the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) and one in conjunction with the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA).
The work of the independent Commission on the Defence Forces underpins this Government's commitment to ensuring that the Defence Forces are fit for purpose, in terms of meeting immediate requirements and also in terms of seeking to develop a longer term vision beyond 2030.
I understand that the Commission are continuing their work with a view to completing the Report as soon as possible. The Report will be fully considered at that point.