I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 99 and 102 together.
The Government has committed to bringing the Defence Forces within the scope of the Working Time Directive. As I have previously informed the Dail, a Government Decision dated 18 November 2016 approved the drafting of the Heads of Bill to amend the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. This will remove the blanket exclusions contained in Section 3 of the Act. Implementing the Working Time Directive is a complex process. To that end, work is under way in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in conjunction with the Department of Defence and the Department of Justice and Equality towards the progression of this decision.
The Department of Defence and the Defence Forces have undertaken significant work in examining the nature of the duties of the Defence Forces and how the Working Time Directive can be applied to the members of the Defence Forces. An audit of Defence Forces' activities was conducted and this audit encompassed the work of EOD personnel. Further consideration of implementation issues is ongoing.
For reasons of operational security, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the disposition and specifics relating to hours worked on Explosive Ordnance Disposal duties. Furthermore, as these duties are currently the subject of litigation in connection with the Working Time Directive I am similarly not in a position to comment on same.
The Defence Vote contains sufficient funding to accommodate a strength of 9,500 personnel. As work on the implementation of the Working Time Directive is ongoing, costings on implementation are not yet available.