Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (48)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

48. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the EU counterparts he has met formally in the past six months to discuss Brexit related issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20537/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The outcome of the vote of 23 June 2016 in the UK will have implications across all aspects of the business of the European Union. While the vote does not give rise to fundamental strategic issues for Defence Forces operations or for Ireland’s continuing engagement within the EU in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), it is expected that Brexit will have an impact on future developments in the Defence sphere.

In my role as Minister for Defence, I continue to engage with my EU counterparts to highlight Ireland’s concerns in relation to Brexit and to ensure that these concerns are fully reflected in the EU position during negotiations. My activities are reinforced by extensive engagement at diplomatic and official level. At Ministerial level there is ongoing contact as required with my EU colleagues both in the context of European Defence and Security, and other matters, including Brexit.

In addition to bilateral and multilateral exchanges, two official meetings of EU Defence Ministers are held during each six month EU Presidency. The most recent informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers took place in Sofia on 05 May 2018. I was in attendance at this meeting and participated in discussions that covered a wide range of European Defence and Security issues and associated challenges.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the formal and informal meetings of Ministers at EU level provide a significant opportunity for me to engage bilaterally with Ministers from other Member States on issues of concern to Ireland, both within the scope of the Ministerial but also more broadly. When attending European Council meetings, I avail of the opportunity to engage in informal bilateral discussions with my EU colleagues en-marge of these meetings, which is an important aspect of Ministerial attendance, and where I have raised the issue of Brexit and Ireland’s key considerations, as and when the opportunity arises.

As recently as last Tuesday, I met with the UK Ambassador to Ireland where again I outlined Ireland's position on a number of Brexit related matters.

The Deputy will also be aware, the Government has adopted a contingency framework to deal with all issues arising in respect of the UK vote to leave the EU. Accordingly, any issues arising, including those within the Defence area, whether bilateral, or in respect of developments in CSDP, or regarding our wider international multilateral defence engagements, will be also addressed within that framework.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (49)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

49. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of employees within his Department in receipt of a salary below the living wage of €11.70 per hour. [20615/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Twenty five civil servants and seven civilian staff, all on an incremental pay scale, are currently employed with my Department on a salary below that specified by the Deputy. In addition, apprentices who are undergoing training are paid apprenticeship rates of pay.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) has overall responsibility for public service pay policy throughout the public sector and the rates applied in my Department are in line with those agreed centrally and with those being paid to equivalent grades in other Government Departments.

Departmental Agencies Staff Data

Ceisteanna (50)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

50. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the disaggregation of salary scales or levels among agency workers within or through his Department. [20621/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My Department engages agency staff from time to time where in-house resources are not readily available. Payment for these services is made directly to the agency through whom the staff are engaged. The salary paid to the staff is therefore a matter between the agency and the individual and my Department is not party to the information sought by the Deputy.

Departmental Agencies Staff Data

Ceisteanna (51)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

51. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of workers employed through his Department under the status of agency worker. [20627/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My Department engages agency staff from time to time where in-house resources are not readily available. These staff are mainly involved in the provision of healthcare services at military medical facilities. The number engaged can vary from week to week depending on the requirements of the military authorities. At present, agency workers are providing physiotherapy, psychology, dental, social worker and nursing services.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Ceisteanna (52, 53)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

52. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which recruitment to the Defence Forces is likely to adequately replenish the strength of each branch of the Defence Forces in early date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20719/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

53. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of women that have retired or resigned from the Defence Forces for whatever reason in each of the past five years to date; his plans for their replacement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20720/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 53 together.

There are significant recruitment opportunities currently available in the Defence Forces, at both enlisted and officer level, for eligible individuals who wish to have a rewarding and positive career in service to the State.

In 2018, an intake of some 800 personnel across a range of recruitment streams is anticipated. To achieve this, targeted recruitment has been and is currently taking place.

A General Service Recruitment campaign and the 2018 Officer Cadetships competition closed last month and these applications are now being processed. An Air Corps Apprentice Competition launched on 3 March 2018 is open until 25th May. The Naval Service is currently recruiting Direct Entry Officers for Bridge Watch-keeping, Marine Engineering and Electrical Engineering roles. The Defence Forces are also accepting applications from qualified doctors for careers in the Medical Corps.

The following table shows the number of women that have retired or resigned from the Defence Forces for whatever reason in each of the past five years to date. The Government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities. This is underlined by a commitment in the Programme for Government to increase the level of female participation in the Defence Forces. The Defence Forces have no restrictions with regard to the assignment of men or women to the full range of operational and administrative duties, and all promotions and career courses are open to both sexes on merit.

FEMALE 

 2013

 2014

 2015

 2016

 2017

 2018

 TOTAL

 ARMY

 23

 22

 24

 17

 32

 9

 127

 AIR CORPS

 0

 0

 5

 2

 2

 2

 11

 NAVAL SERVICE

 4

 1

 4

 4

 6

 2

 21

 TOTAL

 27

 23

 33

 23

 40

 13

 *159

 * Total number includes recruits, of which some 22% do not complete initial training.

** Latest data as of 08 MAY 2018.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Ceisteanna (54, 55)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

54. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of non-commissioned officers that have retired from each branch of the Defence Forces in each of the past five years to date; his plans for their replacement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20721/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

55. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of commissioned officers that have retired from each branch of the Defence Forces in each of the past five years to date; his plans for their replacement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20722/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 55 together.

The Permanent Defence Force has always had a level of turnover that far exceeds other areas of the public service. This is a necessary feature of military organisations and allows for continuous renewal, promotions etc.

The following table sets out the numbers of commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers that left for each of the years from 2002 to 2017.

 -

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

LT GEN

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

1

1

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

 

MAJ GEN

1

0

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

 

BRIG GEN

3

2

0

1

2

1

1

3

1

1

2

1

2

2

1

3

 

COL

2

6

5

5

5

9

1

14

5

7

8

3

8

2

9

8

 

LT COL

13

7

6

10

6

12

13

18

17

10

16

12

16

12

12

16

 

COMDT

20

19

12

19

27

28

26

33

21

38

31

20

28

22

35

23

 

CAPT

13

6

9

10

10

9

7

10

11

13

11

20

19

30

21

20

 

LT

6

1

3

7

2

3

1

2

0

4

2

2

8

5

2

6

 

SGT MAJOR

4

4

6

11

6

6

4

9

4

3

7

0

5

1

3

8

 

BQMS

9

2

4

2

7

7

1

12

7

8

2

1

5

3

1

9

 

CS/FS/BS

18

16

22

9

16

28

16

22

32

26

36

11

19

20

25

21

 

CQMS/FQMS

12

15

13

14

22

19

20

24

26

26

38

14

13

11

15

19

 

SGT

86

67

76

54

75

60

73

93

70

84

117

52

44

73

97

71

 

CPL

90

80

62

60

68

85

70

59

82

79

110

55

39

70

47

57

 

Discharges from the Defence Forces are recorded under a number of headings without a specific definition of retirement which can be either voluntary or involuntary. The headings range from "at their own request", purchase of discharge, end of contract or reaching age limits.

The White Paper on Defence recognises that continuous recruitment is the lifeblood of the Defence Forces; providing young, motivated and enthusiastic personnel to replenish military formations for operational deployments. The recruitment plan proposed by the Defence Forces envisages 800 new entrants being inducted across all services and competition streams in 2018. Promotions are also ongoing throughout the Defence Forces. 

With the support of the Chief of Staff and within the resources available, the Government is committed to retaining the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government both at home and overseas.

Defence Forces Resources

Ceisteanna (56, 57, 60)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

56. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the Defence Forces continue to be trained and have their military equipment upgraded in order to be in a position to meet security risks that might emerge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20723/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

57. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the Defence Forces continue to be trained and have all equipment upgraded in line with the best standards throughout the EU in order to be prepared for emergencies that might arise such as a natural disaster or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20724/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

60. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps continue to have access to the most modern technology including foolproof GPS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20727/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56, 57 and 60 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 as set out on the White Paper on Defence.

The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me. Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process. The principal aim over the period of the White Paper will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements, including response to security risks and other emergencies, both at home and overseas. Modern secure communications are essential for operations at home and on overseas missions and in that regard Defence Force personnel are suitably equipped with required communications and global positioning systems equipment.

With regard to training, the primary function of training and education in the Defence Forces is to develop and maintain the necessary capabilities. The Defence Forces deliver military training programmes and modules meeting national, EU and international standards. They also engage with external educational institutions in order to facilitate organisational learning. This engagement with national and international educational institutions, military and civilian, aims to ensure that the Defence Forces retain currency with regards to best international practice and employ all relevant modern training methods.

I am satisfied that the current provisions, together with the courses of action in the White Paper, will continue to ensure that the Defence Forces is suitably equipped and trained, in line with EU and international best practice, to fulfil all roles assigned by Government.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (58)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

58. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the degree to which his Department continues to monitor all equipment including aircraft, fixed-wing and-or helicopters in the Air Corps; the deficiencies identified; his plans for upgrading; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20725/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces, including the Air Corps, is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable them to carry out their roles as assigned by Government. In this regard future equipment priorities for the Air Corps are being considered in the context of the lifetime of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment planning process.

The White Paper on Defence provides for the replacement of the current Cessna fleet with three larger aircraft which will be equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR). Following an open tender competition, a contract was placed with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd in December 2017 at a cost of some €32m for the provision of three PC-12 fixed wing utility aircraft suitably equipped for ISTAR tasks which will replace the Cessna fleet. It is expected that the three aircraft will be delivered by 2020.

The White Paper also provides for the replacement of the two CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft with consideration of their replacement with larger more suitable aircraft, which would enhance maritime surveillance and provide a greater degree of utility for transport and cargo carrying tasks. The planning process for the replacement of the CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft has recently commenced on this project and it is intended to hold a public tender competition shortly. The cost of the aircraft will only be known once the tender competition is concluded.

The existing EC 135 and AW 139 helicopters will continue to deliver the required Defence Forces support and other support capabilities over the lifetime of the White Paper.

The acquisition of these new modern aircraft, combined with an ongoing maintenance regime for the existing fleet, will ensure that the operational capabilities of the Air Corps are maintained to the greatest extent possible.

Naval Service Equipment

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 56.

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 59.

Ceisteanna (59, 61)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

59. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the degree to which the Naval Service continues to be equipped to the most modern standards in order to be in a position to effectively participate in emergencies that might arise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20726/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

61. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which all branches of the Defence Forces and rescue services including the Irish Coast Guard continue to be equipped with the most modern and regularly updated technology in order to be in a position to fully participate in emergencies that might arise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20728/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

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.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 56.
Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 59.

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (62)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

62. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which efforts continue to be made to ensure that the charts available to the Defence Forces or the rescue services are fully updated to record obstacles that might pose a threat in the air or at sea; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20729/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Safety is of paramount concern for the Defence Forces. I am advised that navigation charts used by the Air Corps and Naval Service are routinely updated.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Ceisteanna (63)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

63. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which promotional vacancies remain to be filled in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20730/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The following table outlines the promotional posts vacant within the PDF, by Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as at 31st March 2018, the latest date for which such figures are available.

The manpower requirement of the Defence Forces is monitored on an ongoing basis in accordance with the operational requirements of each of the three services. In this regard, promotions are ongoing within the officer ranks in order to fill rank vacancies. The interview stage of the competition to fill vacancies to the ranks of Sergeants and above, has taken place over the last few months. Vacancies are currently being filled from this competition. It is my intention that targeted recruitment along with promotions will continue to be carried out.

PDF vacancies as at 31 March 2018

-

Col

Lt Col

Comdt

Captain

BSM

BQMS

CS

CQMS

Sgt

Cpl

Army

1

6

12

24

3

0

13

20

214

116

Air Corps

0

0

-2

21

1

0

2

0

28

49

Naval Service

0

0

-8

29

0

0

1

0

58

34

Total

1

6

2

74

4

0

16

20

300

199

Note: Equivalent Naval Service RanksLieutenant Colonel/CommanderCommandant/Lieutenant CommanderCaptain/Lieutenant (NS) Sergeant Major/Warrant OfficerBattalion Quartermaster Sergeant/Senior Chief Petty Officer Company Quartermaster Sergeant/Senior Petty OfficerCompany Sergeant/Chief Petty OfficerSergeant/Petty OfficerCorporal/Leading Seaman

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (64)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

64. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which discussions continue to take place at EU level with a view to assuring a high degree of preparedness in the event of a terrorist attack; if the Defence Forces continue to be adequately briefed in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20731/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

At Ministerial level there is ongoing contact as required with EU colleagues both in the context of European Defence and Security and other matters. In addition to these bilateral contacts, two official meetings of EU Defence Ministers are held during each six month EU Presidency. The most recent informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers took place in Sofia on 05 May 2018. Discussions at the meeting covered a wide range of European Defence and Security issues and associated challenges.

As part of the Informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers in September, on 07 September 2017 there was an EU Table-top Cyber Exercise. The exercise, based on a fictional cyber attack against an EU CSDP Mission Operational Headquarters, focussed on EU level responses to a cyber and hybrid threat to a CSDP operation. The purpose of the table-top exercise was to raise strategic situational awareness at the political level and improve understanding of the EU's crisis response mechanisms and the importance of coordinated strategic communication.

In relation to international terrorism issues at EU level, this is primarily a matter for Justice and Interior Ministers under the Justice and Home Affairs umbrella. Within this State, primary responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána.

Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) which, in practice, means to provide assistance and support to An Garda Síochána when requested to do so.

There is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters, including ATCP deployments and a wide variety of military training activities are specifically designed to counter or respond to possible security emergencies. Regular coordination and liaison meetings also take place between the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána in relation to ATCP issues.

Defence Forces Deployment

Ceisteanna (65)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

65. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which he has had discussions at EU and UN level with regard to future deployment of the Defence Forces overseas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20732/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As of 01 May 2018, Ireland is contributing 637 personnel to 9 different missions throughout the world. The main overseas missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 369 personnel and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria with 138 personnel.

Other missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed are the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) with 19 personnel; the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina with five personnel; the NATO-led international security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo with 12 personnel and the Naval Service EU Naval Mission (Op Sophia) with 61 personnel which includes four personnel in the Headquarters.

Ireland also contributes 20 observers and staff to various United Nations and OSCE missions and 13 other personnel to staff appointments at UN, EU and OSCE headquarters.

The current contribution of some 637 personnel to overseas missions reflects the Government’s continued commitment to our responsibilities in the area of international peace and security.

With regard to any future deployments of Defence Forces personnel overseas, Ireland receives requests from time to time in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition at both Ministerial and official level, there is continual engagement relating to current peacekeeping missions particularly with other EU countries.

Finland has announced earlier this year that its current national mandate for participation in the Irish-Finnish Battalion in UNIFIL will end on 31 December 2018 and will not be renewed. Finland will therefore withdraw from Irish/Battalion by the end of the year. Ireland is committed to continuing participation in the UNIFIL mission and is currently considering the options that are available. These include the option to backfill positions by deploying additional Irish personnel. Another option is to identify a partner country to replace the Finnish contingent and discussions are on-going in this regard.

Due to Ireland's current level of commitment in overseas peacekeeping operations, notably to UNDOF, UNIFIL and Operation Sophia, we are not in a position to make any significant commitment to other missions at this time.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (66)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

66. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to meet formally with the Polish Foreign Minister, Mr. Jacek Czaputowicz, to discuss the Middle East peace process, Brexit and EU relations with South Korea; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20540/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I had a useful bilateral meeting with my Polish counterpart, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, in the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 19th March last. We discussed a number of issues including bilateral relations and Brexit. I continue to have regular engagements with my Foreign Ministerial colleagues from other EU Member States including at the monthly Foreign Affairs Council meetings, but I don’t have specific plans at this stage for another bilateral meeting with the Polish Foreign Minister.

United Nations

Ceisteanna (67)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

67. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his position on the campaign for a United Nations parliamentary assembly; when a parliamentary assembly will be inaugurated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20595/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Since joining the United Nations in 1955, Ireland has been strongly committed to the values and principles of the UN Charter.

As a steadfast supporter of the UN, Ireland continues to advocate, through a range of fora, for reform of the UN’s structures and systems to best equip the organisation to respond to the many and interlinked global challenges of the twenty first century. Ireland is committed, in this context, to consider proposals seeking to improve the effectiveness of the UN and the contribution it can make to the peace, stability and development of all nations.

In this regard, I have noted proposals for the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. Ireland remains open minded on the concept of such an assembly.

I believe that any proposals for a UN Parliamentary Assembly should add value to the multilateral governance system and, importantly, have broad support among the UN membership.

Ireland will consider how best to engage on this proposal, and other efforts at reform of UN institutions, as the concept of a UN Parliamentary Assembly progresses.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (68)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

68. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether it is now time to examine the possibility of requiring Israeli citizens who reside in illegal settlements to undergo the same visa application process as that which Palestinians are subject to in order to enter here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20762/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The determination of visa requirements is primarily a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality. I understand however that the existence of a visa requirement is dependent on the citizenship and travel document held by the traveller, and not on their home address.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (69)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

69. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the recent visit of Mr. Michel Barnier here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20766/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The EU’s Chief Negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations, Michel Barnier, attended the All-Island Civic Dialogue in Dundalk on 30 April. Mr Barnier’s visit was yet another demonstration of the EU’s continued steadfast support for Ireland and commitment to addressing our specific concerns in the Brexit negotiations.

Mr Barnier delivered the keynote address to the All-Island Civic Dialogue and met with a range of individuals and groups in attendance. His participation over lunch in a meeting of the Brexit Stakeholder Forum, which I hosted, was particularly welcomed and useful. The Taoiseach and I also had a bilateral meeting with Mr Barnier in advance of his address to the All-Island Civic Dialogue. Our meeting offered an opportunity to take stock of the current state of play in the negotiations on both the future relationship and the draft Withdrawal Agreement, including progress on the draft Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.

There was agreement at the meeting that significantly more progress is needed on the Protocol, including the backstop on avoiding a hard border, ahead of the June meeting of the European Council. Recalling the European Council Guidelines of 23 March 2018 and the principles that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and that negotiations can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken so far are respected in full, there was also agreement that there can be no Withdrawal Agreement without a satisfactory agreement on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (70)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

70. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on recent meetings which he has had with his UK counterpart regarding Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20767/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

In November 2017, I welcomed UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson MP, for his first visit to Ireland since being appointed to the position. A number of areas of mutual foreign policy interest were discussed, including the Middle East and Africa, in addition to the strong British-Irish bilateral relationship and how this relationship can be strengthened in the future. Although the Foreign Secretary does not have lead responsibility for Brexit, the meeting also provided an opportunity to exchange views on the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

I routinely meet the Foreign Secretary at meetings of Foreign Ministers in an EU context, and internationally. Ireland and the United Kingdom share many areas of mutual interest and concern and we will continue to work together on areas of commonality.

Brexit Data

Ceisteanna (71)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

71. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the Departments which have conducted and published Brexit sectoral response plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20768/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Co-ordination of the whole-of-Government response to Brexit is being taken forward through the cross-Departmental coordination structures chaired by my Department. Contingency planning for a no-deal or worst-case outcome, bringing together the detailed work being undertaken by individual Ministers and their Departments on issues within their policy remit, is now well advanced. Its focus is on the immediate regulatory and operational challenges which would result from such an outcome. It assumes a trading relationship based on the default WTO rules, but also examines the possible effects on many other areas of concern. This work is therefore providing baseline scenarios for the impact of Brexit across all sectors, which can then be adapted as appropriate in light of developments in the EU-UK negotiations, including in regard to transition arrangements and the future relationship. It also takes account of the planning being undertaken at EU level by the new Commission Preparedness Unit, which is issuing information notes aimed at different business sectors. The Government is already acting in order to get Ireland Brexit ready. Dedicated measures were announced in Budget 2018, including a new €300m Brexit Loan Scheme for Business and a €25m Brexit Response Loan Scheme for the agri-food sector as well as additional supports for capital investment in the food industry and Bord Bia marketing and promotion activities, amounting to over €50m in total. Additional capital expenditure allocation of €4.3bn over four years will also allow the State and its agencies to properly plan major infrastructure projects while ensuring that communities and businesses can plan ahead. There was also increased funding provided to my Department for the opening of six new diplomatic missions as part of Global Footprint 2025, which will contribute to helping our exporters find new markets.

Our Government’s enterprise agencies continue to work with companies, helping them to deal with Brexit – making them more competitive, diversifying market exposure, and up-skilling teams. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation published last November ‘Building Stronger Business: Responding to Brexit by competing, innovating and training’. In total 34 reports analyzing the effects of Brexit across a broad range of sectors and in some cases setting out responses have been published to date by Government Departments. All these reports are available on a dedicated Brexit webpage on my Department’s website: https://www.dfa.ie/brexit/.

Longer-term economic strategies will also be critically important in addressing the challenges of Brexit, notably Ireland 2040 –the National Development Plan. The Enterprise Strategy 2025 Renewed was recently launched and we are in active discussions with the European Investment Bank on a potential increase in investment in the country.

Before the summer the Government will finalise a paper, building on that published in May 2017, on our approach to the negotiations and our latest assessment of the economic and sectoral challenges posed by Brexit and our responses to them.

Economic Growth

Ceisteanna (72)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

72. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the projected increase or demand for workers and employees due to demographic changes for the years 2018 to 2028. [20703/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

My Department's most recent macroeconomic forecasts were published with the Stability Programme Update 2018 in April, and cover the period up until 2021. The following table sets out the total employment projections from these forecasts.

Overall, it is forecast that approximately 135,000 net additional jobs will be created over the period from 2018 to 2021. For this year, employment growth of 2.7 per cent (approximately 60,000 jobs) is projected. For next year, employment gains of 2.3 per cent are also anticipated. Over the remaining two years of the forecast horizon to 2021, employment growth of 1.8 per cent on average per annum is projected.

 

 2018

 2019

 2020

 2021

 Employment (%)

 2.7

2.3

1.9 

 1.7

Source: Department of Finance

The updated forecasts take into account the latest developments, including revisions to the labour market data arising from the new CSO Labour Force Survey and projected demographic changes over the period to 2021.