The Reserve Defence Force (RDF) is comprised of the First Line Reserve, the Army Reserve (AR) and the Naval Service Reserve (NSR). The Government appreciates the service of the Reserve Defence Force and recognises the important role that the three elements of the RDF play in contributing to Ireland's defence capability. The White Paper is clear that there is a continued requirement to retain and develop the RDF and it is currently on a development path arising from the recommendations of the White Paper.
A key ongoing challenge for the AR and NSR is to recruit and retain personnel. I am very much aware that there continues to be a shortfall between the current strength figures and those of the establishment which provides for 4,069 personnel. Recruitment to the AR and NSR is continuing. I am advised by the military authorities that as of 5 March 2019, a total of 30 new recruits (2 female) have been inducted into the AR in 2019. A total of 129 new recruits were inducted to the AR and NSR in 2018.
The Defence Forces will run two recruitment campaigns for the Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve this year. Supports being provided to maximise recruitment to the Reserve include the use of social media and outreach activities by RDF members. Permanent Defence Force (PDF) recruit exit interviews now contain information on applying for membership of the RDF.
I would like to assure the Deputy that I remain committed to the ongoing development of the RDF within the framework set out in the White Paper for Defence and having regard to resource availability. It is my intention to ensure that the momentum on its development is maintained throughout 2019 and the coming years.