I propose to take Questions Nos. 59 and 61 together.
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 so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.
The White Paper underpins the on-going replacement of the Naval Service fleet which has enjoyed a significant investment in the new ships programme of over €250 million since 2010. The newest ship, to be named LÉ George Bernard Shaw is scheduled for delivery later this year. I am committed to ensuring that the Defence Forces continue to be equipped and trained to best international standards and that this position is kept under on-going review.
Specifically in relation to Search and Rescue, the Deputy might note that the Irish Coast Guard has overall responsibility for the provision of Search and Rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue region.
Both the Naval Service and the Air Corps provide support to the Irish Coast Guard in maritime Search and Rescue operations on an “as available” basis. A Service Level Agreement is in place setting out their roles and responsibilities in this regard and the Defence Organisation continues to provide support, as available, to the Irish Coast Guard in respect of Coast Guard Search and Rescue operations.