I propose to take Questions Nos. 7, 15, 17, 24 and 30 together.
In the recent competition a total of 9,518 individuals applied for enlistment in the Permanent Defence Force and 8,280 attended for interview; 1,200 applicants have been shortlisted and 500 of these will shortly be recruited. The criteria used by the recruit selection boards in assessing candidates were general suitability in terms of motivation, communication skills and aptitude for group work; physical suitability as evidenced by sporting interests and hobbies; and general intelligence as indicated by educational attainments or otherwise. Under general suitability favourable consideration was given to the voluntary service of members of the FCA.
322 — 64.4 per cent of the first 500 candidates shortlisted by the selection boards are members of the FCA. This represents a relatively high success rate for members of the FCA and I do not, therefore, see the need to reserve a set percentage of places for FCA members. Details of the units, corps and commands of the successful FCA applicants are not readily available.
In accordance with the representative structures established for the Permanent Defence Force, PDFORRA was consulted in relation to the proposed recruitment. I extended the length of the term of engagement for the new recruits from three to five years on foot of the association's representations.
Having regard to the current age profile of non-commissioned personnel of the Permanent Defence Force and the need for young, fit and active personnel for operational duties, I consider that it would not be appropriate at the present time to enlist persons who are over 27 years of age.
The question of further recruitment will be kept under review in the light of operational requirements.