Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (123)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

123. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Taoiseach if his Department has agreed a set of priority information campaigns in 2018; the subject of such campaigns to be undertaken by his Department; and the funding allocated for such campaigns. [9973/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The Strategic Communications Unit in my Department has worked with Government Departments, Ministers and Senior Officials to agree a set of priority information campaigns. The list is outlined below. Other campaigns may be run throughout the year if the requirement arises.

Funding for each campaign will be determined at the planning stage for the campaign.

Government Approved Priority Campaigns:

Agreed Priority Campaigns

Budget Year Process

10 Year National Development Plan

Public Service Reform

Public Services Card

Rebuilding Ireland

National Planning Framework

10 Year National Development Plan

Sustainable Growth e.g. Water Quality and Conservation

Brexit

Innovation Ireland

Regional Jobs

Healthy Ireland

Children’s Hospital

Sláinte Care Vision

Brexit/EU Future

Global Ireland/St Patrick’s Day

Consular Services

Good Friday Agreement 20th anniversary

Creative Ireland

Bliain na Gaeilge

Pensions Consultations

Benefits Awareness

Disability

Campaign for Rural Action Plan

Libraries

Global Ireland

Food Safety

Climate Change and Sustainability

Bord Bia/Agri food

Winter Ready

Education Action Plan

Connecting Ireland e.g. Broadband

Sustainable Growth (incl. Climate Action/Energy)

Sports Capital/Indoor Arena/National Sports Policy

Greenways Strategy

Transport Infrastructure

Gardaí and Safe Society

Domestic Violence

Migrant Integration

Affordable Childcare

Early Years Strategy

Adoption Information

Government Information Service

Ceisteanna (124, 125, 126)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

124. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the reporting and accountability relationship of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer; and if it works with the strategic communications unit. [10051/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

125. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the cost of his plan to transfer taoiseach.gov.ie to gov.ie; if outside contracts have been obtained; if they will be procured; and the details of same. [10052/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

126. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the estimated cost of transferring all Government websites to gov.ie; the way in which this is being co-ordinated; and if outside companies are or will be involved in same. [10053/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 to 126, inclusive, together.

The reporting and accountability relationship of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) is to the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) is working with the OGCIO on the gov.ie migration project.

The project to transfer all non transactional Departmental websites, including my Department’s website is currently being scoped.

Costs for the project will be available when this scoping exercise has been finalised. Regarding the use of external providers, it is likely that a mix of internal and external staff will be used depending on skills required.

Staff working on the implementation of the project will include a team from the OGCIO, staff from the SCU and staff from the relevant Departments as they are migrated across.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (127)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

127. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of freedom of information requests his Department has received in the past eight years; the number of which were accepted without further escalation and not accepted, respectively; the number requested which were not accepted that were escalated to the information commissioner; the number on which the information commissioner ruled in favour of the person requesting the freedom of information; the number on which the information commissioner ruled against the Department; the number the Department appealed to the High Court; the number the High Court ruled against the Department in favour of the applicant; the number which were then brought to the Court of Appeal by the Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9288/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The number of FOI requests received by my Department since January 2010 are set out in the following table.

My Department processes all Freedom of Information requests received and therefore, none have been escalated to the Office of the Information Commissioner as a result of not having been processed.

During the period since January 2010, seven FOI decisions made by my Department have been appealed by the requester to the Office of the  Information Commissioner.  Of these appeals to the OIC, in four cases the decision of the Department was affirmed by the OIC, one case was subsequently withdrawn by the requester and closed by the OIC, one decision was annulled and one case was settled by agreement with the party and my Department. 

The Department of Defence has not appealed any decisions of the OIC to the High Court. 

Year

No. Received

2010

63

2011

40

2012

50

2013

40

2014

29

2015

94

2016

120

2017

155

2018 to date

26

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (128)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

128. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his Department's capital allocation in each of the years from 2018 to 2022; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [9516/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The National Development Plan sets out Departmental Capital Allocations for the period 2018 – 2022. The allocation in respect of Defence is as follows:

Defence Capital Allocations 2018-2022

Year

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

Total

€ million

77

106

113

120

125

541

This capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper.

The following projects have been prioritised for inclusion:

- Mid-life upgrade of the Army Mowag APC armoured fleet (underway), along with investment in further force protection, transport, communications and IT systems;

- Replacement of the Air Corps Cessna Aircraft (underway);

- CASA Maritime Patrol Aircraft Replacement Programme;

- Mid-life refit of the Naval Service vessels LÉ Niamh and LÉ Roisín;

- On-going Naval vessel replacement programme;

- On-going investment in the modernisation and renewal of barrack infrastructure.

The capital allocation of €541 million for Defence for the period 2018 to 2022 in the National Development Plan emphasises the importance attached by this Government to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the capabilities necessary to deliver on all the roles assigned by Government.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

Ceisteanna (129)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

129. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the terms of reference provided to the working group on Lariam established in 2011. [9544/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

A Malaria Chemoprophylaxis Working Group was established in January 2011 and reported in April 2013. The Group was re-convened in August 2015 and reported in October 2017. The purpose of the Group was to review, inter alia, issues arising in relation to the use of Lariam, particularly in the context of the current and potential litigation.

Both reports were produced by the Working Group in the context of current and potential litigation and are, therefore, legally privileged as is the information about the Working Group.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (130)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

130. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the background checks carried out on a person (details supplied) prior to employment; and the changes that have been made since an issue emerged to improve background checks for those being employed by his Department. [9548/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

It would be inappropriate for me to discuss the detail of any individual employee.  My Department has civilian staff employed at various military installations throughout the country to support the Defence Forces in tasks such as the upkeep and maintenance of military infrastructure and equipment. The grades are spread across a wide spectrum and include craft workers such as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and welders; specialists including healthcare professionals; and technicians and general operatives. 

All new entrants as civilian employees are subject to vetting and security clearance processes similar to those for Defence Forces' recruits. Security is kept under review and my officials work closely with the Defence Forces in relation to such matters.

Defence Forces Reserve

Ceisteanna (131)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

131. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason a person (details supplied) has not received a P45, a P60 and a certificate of discharge and service following resignation; when these documents will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9741/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Members of the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) attend for training on a voluntary basis and, as such, they are not classified as employees and accordingly P45 certificates are not issued to members.  However, my Department can issue a Certificate of Earnings to a Reservist and this essentially serves the same purpose. In relation to the issue of a P60, my Department has examined the case referred to and the records show that the last year that the person in question attended paid training with the RDF was 2014. I understand that a P60 was issued to the individual concerned through his unit in respect of the year ending 31 December 2014. If a copy of a P60 or a Certificate of Earnings for any year (including nil earnings) is required, the person in question can make contact with my Department’s Pay Administration Section.

I understand from the military authorities that Certificates of Discharge are not supplied to RDF officers who resign their commission. However, Certificates of Service are provided to RDF officers by the Defence Forces’ Human Resource Branch (J1) on request from the individual.

European Defence Agency

Ceisteanna (132)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

132. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the annual cost associated with participation in the EU Defence Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9949/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The European Defence Agency was set up in 2004 during Ireland’s Presidency of the EU and Ireland joined the Agency in July of that year. 

Ireland’s interaction and participation in the EDA means that we are afforded the opportunity of keeping track of best practice in modern technology in the development of capabilities which would assist our Defence Forces in their peacekeeping role. It provides access to research and information on developing and maintaining professional capabilities that we cannot self-generate for crisis management and international Peace Support Operations. It also allows us to keep abreast of best practice and new developments in the defence environment particularly as it impacts on multinational crisis management operations

The financial commitment to the operational budget of the European Defence Agency(EDA) is in accordance with EDA funding principles, based on Gross National Income (GNI) key.  The GNI key is calculated based on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of participating Member States.

In addition to Ireland's contribution to the operational budget, in 2017 Ireland contributed financially to three projects in the EDA: (1) Maritime Surveillance (MARSUR) II project (2) The EDA Counter Improvised Explosives Devices Manual Neutralisation Techniques project and (3) European Centre for Manual Neutralisation Capabilities (ECMAN).

Contributions to EDA 2017.

 -

 2017

Contribution to the Operational Budget

 400,412

Contribution to MARSUR II

 15,000

Contribution to ECMAN

 75,000

Contribution to C-IED MNT

 57,500

Total 2017 Contribution

 547,912

Partnership for Peace

Ceisteanna (133)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

133. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the annual cost associated with participation in NATO's partnership for peace; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9950/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Ireland’s relations with NATO are set within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and Partnership for Peace (PfP), including its Planning and Review Process (PARP). Ireland joined EAPC and Partnership for Peace (PfP) on 1 December 1999.

The primary aim of Ireland's PfP participation is to enhance the Defence Forces’ interoperability with other professional military forces for the purpose of engaging in UN authorised peacekeeping and peace support operations led by the UN, EU or NATO. Participation in PfP is fundamental to Ireland being able to meet its obligations in providing professional peacekeepers for international crisis management and peacekeeping operations mandated by the UN.

Membership of PfP has allowed the Defence Forces to gain access to NATO standards - which are internationally-recognised as representing best practice for the development of military capabilities. 

In relation to Ireland’s participation in the Partnership for Peace, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade meets the running costs of the office in Brussels which is staffed by the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with average Defence staff costs totalling €216,330 annually.

EU Battle Groups

Ceisteanna (134)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

134. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the annual cost associated with participation in EU battle groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9951/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Participation in EU Battlegroups demonstrates Ireland’s commitment to the development of EU capabilities in the area of crisis management and contributes to our overall credibility within the Union. Ireland’s continuing active engagement in EU Battlegroups enhances our capacity to influence the ongoing development and evolution of the rapid response capacity of the EU, in particular, the role Battlegroups can play in reinforcing and acting as a strategic reserve for UN operations.

The United Nations strongly supports the development of Battlegroups as a capability that could be made available in support of UN mandated missions. It also supports the development of rapid deployment skills and capabilities within the Defence Forces, together with improved interoperability with like-minded States. Participation in EU Battlegroups further supports Ireland’s international security and defence policy and enhances our bilateral relations with contributing Member States.

To date Ireland has participated in the Nordic Battlegroup in 2008, 2011 and 2015, the Austro-German Battlegroup in 2012 and both the German led and UK led Battlegroups in 2016. The total costs directly associated with Irish participation in the two EU Battlegroups in 2016 is €2.763m.  It should be noted that approximately two thirds of this figure relates to direct payroll costs, which would have been incurred in the normal course. The remaining costs relate to subsistence, allowances, transport, flights and other such costs incurred during the preparation and standby period for the Battlegroup.

Common Security and Defence Policy

Ceisteanna (135)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

135. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the annual cost over each of the next five years associated with participation in PESCO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9952/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

PESCO is a mechanism provided for in the Treaty of the European Union to enable participating member States to come together and, on a project by project basis, jointly develop military crisis management capabilities for use in support of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and missions in support of international peace and security.

Now that we are participating in PESCO, the focus for Ireland will be on identifying key PESCO projects which can enhance the capability and capacity of the Defence Forces to successfully undertake modern complex UN mandated missions, including CSDP operations and on supporting interoperability in this regard.

Consideration is currently being given to the potential PESCO projects in which Ireland will participate. The work on elaborating the details of these project proposals and potential participants is currently on-going at EU level and Ireland is playing a full part in those deliberations. Once these deliberations have been completed the next step will be for a Council Decision to approve the first tranche of PESCO projects to be developed along with the project participants. It is anticipated that the Council will be in a position to take that decision in early March 2018.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is difficult at this juncture to make any predictions on costs associated with participation over the next five years.  Any costs incurred by Ireland will be dependent on which projects Ireland chooses to participate in, and the provision of full project plans by the project leads. Project choices will take into account the on-going development of Defence Forces capabilities for peace support and crisis management operations. In any event, costs associated with the development of capabilities would be incurred in the normal course and will therefore be met from within the Defence Vote.