Questions Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, answered orally.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Questions Nos. 5 to 10, inclusive, answered orally.

Ceisteanna (4)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

4. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the pay disparity between members of the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána during the recent visit by President Donald Trump; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24581/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Jobs differ greatly across the public service and it can be difficult to make direct comparisons between different sectors across the full range of duties. Members of the Defence Forces and an Garda Síochána fulfil different roles and have different terms and conditions of service and pay structures. The vast majority of military personnel and Gardaí are engaged in duties on a day-today basis which are quite dissimilar.

Defence Forces pay and allowances are set, amongst other things, by reference and in consideration of relative levels of pay across a broad range of duties and roles across various sectors of the Irish public sector.

In addition to basic pay, the Defence Forces have a wide range of allowances which are unique to their duties. A weekly Military Service Allowance is paid to all ranks up to the level of Colonel. Military Service Allowance is designed to compensate for the special disadvantages associated with military life. This includes unsocial hours of duty, exposure to danger, and the restrictions inherent in military discipline. For Privates, Corporals and Sergeants with more 3 years in service, MSA is worth more than €6,023 per annum per person. For Senior NCOs the rate is €6,411 per annum, per person.

A range of duties attract additional allowances. Certain positions also attract technical pay for enlisted personnel or additional rates for officers.

Security Duty Allowance is payable to all ranks up to Commandant for certain duties of a security nature performed. This includes duties assisting an Garda Síochána in Aid to the Civil Power.

In accordance with the Public Service Stability Agreement, 2013-2016, (the Haddington Road Agreement), all sectors across the public service were required to contribute to additional pay and productivity measures. Other sectors delivered these savings through a variety of approaches including additional working time and reduced rates of overtime payments.

The contribution from the Defence sector included a reduction of 10% on the rate of certain allowances payable to the Defence Forces including Security Duty Allowance. It was also agreed with the Representative Associations that the Saturday and Sunday rates for Security Duty Allowance would be flat rated.

The Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations have made claims for the restoration of the premium rates, which is being processed through the Conciliation and Arbitration (C&A) Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force. As discussions under the C&A scheme are confidential to the parties involved it would not be appropriate to comment further on the matter at this time.

The Public Service Pay Commission has conducted a comprehensive examination and analysis of underlying difficulties of recruitment and retention in the Defence Sector. The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform is expected to bring the report prepared by the Commission to Government shortly. The Government will give due consideration to the findings and recommendations in the report.

Questions Nos. 5 to 10, inclusive, answered orally.

Defence Forces Representative Organisations

Questions Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, answered orally.

Ceisteanna (11, 12)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

11. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the work carried out in his Department and the progress made to increase the level of industrial relations support for serving personnel in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24585/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

12. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the progress being made in affording Defence Force representative organisations affiliation with a union (details supplied) as a means to advance the interests of their members in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24584/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 12 together.

The Defence (Amendment) Act 1990 and Defence Force Regulations S6 provided for the establishment of representative associations for members of the Permanent Defence Force. The associations that have been established are RACO (for commissioned officers) and PDFORRA (for enlisted personnel).

A Scheme of Conciliation and Arbitration for members of the Permanent Defence Force provides a formal mechanism for the Defence Forces representative associations to discuss a range of matters relating to the pay and allowances and conditions of service of their members.

Members of the Permanent Defence Force have accrued significant benefits from the C&A scheme since its introduction both in additional allowances and conditions of employment. In recent months alone, matters concluded through the Defence C&A scheme, have provided for:

- Additional leave in respect of extended Marriage Leave, Bereavement Leave and Paternity Leave.

- Certain exemptions from Health Insurance Lifetime Community Rating.

- Revised arrangements for financial support packages for certain overseas appointments.

In light of the many changes in the industrial relations landscape since the establishment of the C&A scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force, I initiated a fundamental review of the scheme last year. I appointed Mr. Gerard Barry to conduct the review. A copy of Mr. Barry's report is available on the Department of Defence website.

The report of the review contains a number of recommendations aimed at improving the efficiency of the scheme. All the parties to the Scheme are in the process of developing a revised scheme implementing the recommendations in the “Barry” report.

The right to affiliate with ICTU poses complex questions for the Defence Forces from a legal, operational and management perspective. In his report, Mr. Barry recommended that the official side should, with the consent of the Minister, engage in discussions with the ICTU to explore the practicalities of a PDF representative association forming association/affiliation with the ICTU, while giving due consideration to any likely conflict that might arise between such an arrangement and the obligations of military service.

This matter is being progressed and dialogue has commenced between the Department of Defence, military management and ICTU. Defence management (civil and military) have met the Representative Associations and will keep them informed of developments.

Questions Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, answered orally.

Civil Defence

Ceisteanna (16)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

16. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the decision which will prevent the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council from issuing medical certificates to Civil Defence personnel from August 2019 will be reversed in view of the fact that this will have a detrimental effect on local community and social events particularly in rural Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24360/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is the regulator for emergency medical services in Ireland and their role is to protect the public. The roles and responsibilities of PHECC include developing Education and Training Standards for awarding qualifications and developing Clinical Practice Guidelines for operational use.

Organisations who wish to teach using PHECC Education and Training Standards, must apply to PHECC to become a Recognised Institution. Organisations, who wish to be operational, and use the PHECC Clinical Practice Guidelines, must apply separately for an annual licence to operate.

As the regulator, PHECC do not issue certificates directly. Qualifications recognised by PHECC are awarded through a Recognised Institution. My Department through the Civil Defence College in Roscrea is currently and continues to be a PHECC Recognised Institution, and delivers training and awards qualifications to Civil Defence volunteers.

The concerns raised recently relate to Civil Defence’s annual licence to operate and provide emergency medical services. This licence is required for volunteers who are qualified to Emergency Medical Technician level or above and who are acting for Civil Defence.

When Civil Defence’s current operating licence was up for renewal in November 2018, my officials reviewed the current Statutory Declaration which must be signed by organisations who wish to provide emergency medical services. That review identified that some assurances and details required as part of the licensing process are not within the control or remit of the Department of Defence as responsibility for operations rests with Local Authorities. In contrast, my Department as set out in the 2015 Government White Paper on Defence sets down National Civil Defence policy and provides up to 70% of the cost of delivering Civil Defence services in each Local Authority.

My officials have been working closely with senior officials in both PHECC and Local Authorities since January of this year in order to find a satisfactory solution to this issue, while conscious of the unique structure of Civil Defence.

Following recent engagement between officials from my Department and from the County and City Management Association, it has been agreed that Local Authorities will provide some of the assurances required as part of the signing of the Statutory Declaration. In order to allow Local Authorities put in place the necessary processes and collate the required assurances, my officials have applied for a further extension to its existing licence which currently expires on 30 July 2019.

I can assure you, I am committed to ensuring the excellent service Civil Defence volunteers provide in terms of emergency medical services continues beyond the 30 July 2019.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

Ceisteanna (17)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

17. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Lariam medical advisory group, the establishment of which was recommended in the 2017 report of the Lariam working group, has been created or has met; and if so, the number of times it has met. [24346/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The establishment of the Lariam Report Implementation Group was undertaken to implement the recommendations of the second report of the Malaria Chemoprophylaxis Working Group established to review, inter alia, issues arising in relation to the use of Lariam, particularly in the context of the current and potential litigation.

The recommendations focus on a number of different areas including planning, training and education/information sharing as well as the establishment of a Medical Advisory Group. This will formalise the provision of on-going expert medical advice, including external expert medical advice, to the Defence Forces in relation to a range of medical matters including malaria chemoprophylaxis.

The Lariam Report Implementation Group has met on a number of occasions and is progressing its work through the formation of a structured plan to implement the recommendations as outlined in the Terms of Reference. These will include planning, training and education/information sharing as well as the establishment of a Medical Advisory Group. The Medical Advisory Group has not been established yet.

Given that there is litigation pending in relation to these matters which is being managed by the State Claims Agency, the Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Ceisteanna (18)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

18. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his recruitment plans for the Defence Forces in 2019; the steps he is taking to address retention of personnel in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24357/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The military authorities have advised that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force, at 30th April 2019 was 8,828 whole time equivalent personnel.

While I acknowledge there is a gap between these figures and the establishment figure of 9,500, the Government remains dedicated to returning to, and maintaining the establishment strength of the Permanent Defence Force. To achieve this recruitment continued in 2019 with:

- The General Service Recruitment application process which launched on the 12th of March, and will remain open throughout the year. This has attracted 2,650 applications to date.

- The 2019 Cadetship Competition, which closed in May, attracted 2,141 applications.

- The Aircraft Apprentice Technician competition is expected to launch soon.

- The Naval Service continues to recruit Direct Entry Officers for Bridge Watch-keeping, Marine Engineering and Electrical Engineering roles.

- The Defence Forces continue to recruit qualified doctors for careers in the Medical Corps.

In addition to the traditional recruitment outlined above, a range of alternative recruitment approaches are being developed, aimed at addressing vacancies in specialist areas.

- A scheme has been introduced which permits former Officers with specialist skills to re-enter the Permanent Defence Force and arrangements are in train to provide a similar scheme for former enlisted personnel.

- Currently there is direct entry provision for those with professional qualifications which is utilised for the recruitment of Medical Officers and Engineers.

- A working group has been established to examine the scope for greater use of such direct entry recruitment for certain specialist positions.

Despite recent highly negative media and political commentary, it must be reiterated that the Defence Forces offers an interesting, varied and rewarding career. Starting pay for both enlisted personnel and Officers is competitive when viewed against other career choices with similar entry requirements. There are also a range of allowances paid in addition to basic pay.

There is also significant ongoing work aimed at making the Defence Forces an attractive career for those currently serving. There are ongoing promotion opportunities. The Defence Forces offers significant opportunities for personnel to develop skills and earn qualifications throughout their career, while receiving full pay. There are opportunities to gain unique experiences, including on overseas service. There is also ongoing work to enhance work-life balance.

Clearly the Government’s goal is to meet the strength target of 9,500 personnel. There are ongoing challenges in this regard. The independent Public Service Pay Commission have been tasked with examining such recruitment and retention issues and I expect that the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform will bring their report to cabinet in the near future. The Government will consider any recommendations made.

Defence Forces Retirements

Ceisteanna (19)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

19. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason his Department declined to participate in the review by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform carried out in 2017 on the retirement ages of public servants; his plans to commence a review of the retirement ages of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24564/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Permanent Defence Force was not included in the review by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform carried out in 2017, in relation to the retirement ages of Public Servants. It was agreed with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that the retirement age for members of the uniformed fast accrual group, which included members of the Permanent Defence Force along with the Garda, Firefighters and Prison Officers, was best dealt with at sectoral level. The detailed policy, operational and manpower issues relevant to these groups could be appropriately considered at that level.

Accordingly, the members of the uniformed fast accrual group, who are currently required to retire early due to the nature of their work, were not covered by the increase in compulsory retirement age from 65 to 70 for Public Servants recruited before 1 April 2004.

A claim to increase the mandatory retirement age for all Officers was subsequently received from the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) under the Conciliation and Arbitration (C&A) Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force. The Deputy will appreciate that as discussions under the C&A Scheme are confidential to the parties involved it would not be appropriate for me to comment in detail on the matter at this time.

The White Paper on Defence (2015) contains a commitment to conduct, in the medium term, a review of HR policies which includes retirement policies, alongside appropriate age profiles for personnel across the Defence Forces. A review of mandatory retirement ages in the Defence Forces will be undertaken in accordance with agreed priorities.

Defence Forces Medical Services

Ceisteanna (20)

James Browne

Ceist:

20. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a psychiatrist has been appointed to the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24361/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Deputies will already be aware of the ongoing efforts made by my Department to fill the vacancy left by the previous in-house military psychiatrist, who retired in May 2018. In this regard, a direct entrant competition for the position of military psychiatrist, which closed on 30th September 2018, yielded no applications. To continue to provide an interim in-house service until such time as the military psychiatrist position could be filled, attempts were made to secure a locum psychiatrist but these also proved unsuccessful.

To explore every option to facilitate an in-house appointment, I gave approval in late 2018 for my Department to conduct a competition for a contracted civilian consultant psychiatrist at pay rates equivalent to those available in the HSE. This approval was subject to sanction by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Sanction has been received, and my Department is currently in the process of making the necessary arrangements for a competition to be advertised.

As I have outlined on numerous occasions in the past, there is a nationwide shortage of trained psychiatrists, with recruitment issues in a number of sectors of the health service. The difficulty with recruitment for such a position is not unique to the Defence Forces.

I also wish to stress yet again that there is no delay in referring Defence Forces personnel requiring immediate psychiatric care or assessment. Patients presenting to Defence Forces Primary Carers (Medical Officers or contracted civilian GPs) with a requirement for urgent psychiatric assessment are referred to HSE Accident & Emergency Departments. Those requiring hospitalisation are admitted immediately. Furthermore, in order to provide Defence Forces Primary Carers with the broadest range of options possible in dealing with the spectrum of cases that present to them, they have also been authorised to refer cases to local external private psychiatrists for outpatient treatment where deemed appropriate.

Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (21)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

21. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel serving in the Permanent Defence Forces; his plans to increase the number of personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24352/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The military authorities have advised that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force, at 30th April 2019 was 8,828 whole time equivalent personnel.

The Government remains committed to returning to, and maintaining the agreed strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel as set out in the White Paper on Defence (2015).

The Defence Forces has targeted some 800 new entrants in 2019 and in an effort to achieve this:

- The General Service Recruitment application process which launched on the 12th of March, will remain open throughout the year. This has attracted 2,650 applications to date.

- The 2019 Cadetship Competition, which closed in May, attracted 2,141 applications.

- The Aircraft Apprentice Technician competition is expected to launch soon.

- The Naval Service continues to recruit Direct Entry Officers for Bridge Watch-keeping, Marine Engineering and Electrical Engineering roles.

- The Defence Forces continue to recruit qualified doctors for careers in the Medical Corps.

In addition to the traditional recruitment outlined above, a range of alternative recruitment approaches are being developed, aimed at addressing vacancies in specialist areas.

- A scheme has been introduced which permits former Officers with specialist skills to re-enter the Permanent Defence Force and arrangements are in train to provide a similar scheme for former enlisted personnel.

- Currently there is direct entry provision for those with professional qualifications which is utilised for the recruitment of Medical Officers and Engineers.

- A working group has been established to examine the scope for greater use of such direct entry recruitment for certain specialist positions.

While, traditionally, significant inductions take place in the latter part of the year, the military authorities have advised me that, as of 30th April 2019, the following personnel have been inducted into the Permanent Defence Force:

- 126 General Service Recruits

- 3 Direct Entry Specialists comprised of 2 Medical Officers and 1 Naval Service Marine Engineer.

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. And despite recent highly negative media and political commentary, it must be highlighted that the Defence Forces offers an interesting, varied and rewarding career. Starting pay for both enlisted personnel and Officers is competitive when viewed against other career choices with similar entry requirements. There are also a range of allowances paid in addition to basic pay.

There is also significant ongoing work aimed at making the Defence Forces an attractive career for those currently serving. There are ongoing promotion opportunities. The Defence Forces offers significant opportunities for personnel to develop skills and earn qualifications throughout their career, while receiving full pay. There are opportunities to gain unique experiences, including on overseas service. There is also ongoing work to enhance work-life balance.

Clearly the Government’s goal is to meet the strength target of 9,500 personnel. There are ongoing challenges in this regard. The independent Public Service Pay Commission have been tasked with examining such recruitment and retention issues. I expect that the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform will bring their report to cabinet in the near future. The Government will consider any recommendations made.

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (22)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

22. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel from the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps who took part in protection duties for the visit of President Trump; the total of the allowances paid for this service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24476/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for the internal security of the State. 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 assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so.

The Gardaí requested ATCP assistance from the Defence Forces in support of the recent visit of the President of the United States of America and the number of Defence Forces personnel deployed in response to this request was 497.

Unlike other areas of the Public Service and due to the nature of the duties performed, overtime is not available to members of the Defence Forces. In addition to basic pay, the Defence Forces have a wide range of allowances which are unique to their duties. A Military Service Allowance (MSA) is paid to all ranks up to the level of Colonel. Military Service Allowance is designed to compensate for the special conditions associated with military life. These include unsocial hours of duty, exposure to danger, and the restrictions inherent in military discipline. For Privates, Corporals and Sergeants with more 3 years in service, MSA is worth €115.43 per week, per person. For Senior NCOs the rate is €122.87 per week.

In line with any other occasion when the Defence Forces are requested to operate in an Aid to the Civil Power capacity, Defence Force members on duty in support of An Garda Síochána during the visit of the President of the United States will receive the Security Duty Allowance (SDA). The current rate of SDA is €23.81 for each day on duty for less than 24 hours. The rate is increased to €47.59 for a 24 hour duty. Security Duty allowance is paid to all enlisted personnel and to officers up to and including the rank of Commandant who are not already in receipt of an Army Ranger Wing Allowance or a Patrol Duty Allowance.

The assistance provided by the Defence Forces for the duration of the recent visit of the President of the United States of America is greatly appreciated and acknowledged by myself and my colleagues in Government.

Postal Voting

Question No. 24 answered with Question No. 8.

Ceisteanna (23, 30, 32)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

23. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if Defence Forces personnel entitled to postal voting in recent elections were all able to do so in time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24479/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

30. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the changes he is planning to the process to distribute postal ballots to the Defence Forces to ensure that in future all members will receive a ballot in sufficient time to cast it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24583/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

32. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason some members of the Defence Forces did not receive their postal ballots in time to vote in the recent local and European elections and referendum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24582/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23, 30 and 32 together.

The Electoral Act 1992 establishes a postal voters list and those who qualify to be entered in the list. The Act provides that a whole time member of the Defence Forces shall be entered in the list. Having regard to the nature of military life, this entitlement ensures the right to vote for members of the Permanent Defence Force.

The Department of Defence provides a link between the Franchise Section of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and the military authorities. This is to ensure that appropriate timelines for postal voting are agreed.

The Register of Electors is prepared annually by the registration authorities, who prepare the Postal Voters List. The Defence Forces, through the Enlisted Personnel Management Office (EPMO), liaise with the registration authorities to ensure the list is up to date and correct.

The Defence Forces place a very high level of importance on ensuring that all personnel are provided with the opportunity to register for and to receive a postal vote.

To that end, personnel are provided with access to registration forms, through the chain of command. The commanding officers inform all ranks of the availability of the registration forms. A significant operation then takes place to ensure that those who are registered to vote, at home or overseas, are provided with postal votes, to enable them to exercise their right to vote.

Postal votes for Defence Forces personnel were processed and administered by the military authorities in the normal way for the 2019 local and European elections.

I am informed that a number of personnel have expressed concern that they did not receive a postal vote. These concerns are being examined by the military authorities in the context of a review of the operation of the postal voting system with a view to ensuring that processes and procedures are optimised. The review is expected to conclude shortly.

I expect the military authorities to take any necessary action on foot of their review to ensure the right of military personnel to exercise their right to vote.

Question No. 24 answered with Question No. 8.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Question No. 26 answered with Question No. 8.

Ceisteanna (25)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

25. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has considered the establishment of a standing armed forces pay review body similar to that established in the UK as has been requested by an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24565/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In Ireland, public service pay determination is conducted through central negotiations. The UK Government has a different method determining rates of public sector pay. There are independent pay review bodies for individual sectors.

It should also be noted that the UK Armed Forces do not have representative associations to negotiate on their behalf.

In the past, the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations have felt excluded from the negotiations at national pay talk as they are not members of ICTU, who play a key role in such negotiations.

Both RACO and PDFORRA were invited to the negotiations which led to the current agreement, the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, were held under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The issues raised by the Defence Forces Representative Associations were considered in tandem with those raised by other public sector representative associations and trade unions.

Members of the Defence Forces have received the benefits of representation in the past and it is intended that they will continue to do so in the future.

Public sector pay policy comes under the remit of my colleague Mr. Pascal Donohoe T.D. , Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. The Minister reiterated in the past couple of days his commitment to the Public Service Stability Agreement.

Question No. 26 answered with Question No. 8.

Defence Forces Strength

Questions Nos. 28 and 29 answered with Question No. 8.

Question No. 30 answered with Question No. 23.

Ceisteanna (27)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

27. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to address the fact that the Defence Forces lost over a third of their strength between 2014 and 2018 with the result that basic functions cannot be fulfilled in view of the fact that simple recruitment of new members is not enough to fill the gaps left by the departure of experienced members. [24344/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The average yearly departure rate of personnel in the Permanent Defence Force between 2014 and 2018 was 7.01%. The average yearly departure rate since 2002 is 6.3% with a peak rate of 8.58% in 2012. The departure rate in 2018 was 8.1%.

A significant proportion of those that depart are trainees who depart before completing their initial training. The military authorities have advised, for example, that of the 731 personnel who exited the Defence Force during 2018, 139 (or 19%) were trainees while in 2017 trainees accounted for 28% of departures.

The long-term average of trained personnel who depart each year is 500. While 592 trained personnel departed during 2018 and 533 trained personnel departed in 2017, the number of trained personnel departing can fluctuate significantly year-on-year. In recent years this has ranged from a high of 677 in 2012 to a low of 356 in 2014.

The overarching turnover level does not illustrate important underlying trends. As the rate of turnover within a military organisation can differ across functional areas, the impact of turnover can vary accordingly which leads to particular challenges in certain specialist areas. I am continuing to work closely with the Secretary General and Chief of Staff in furthering management responses to such challenges.

Questions Nos. 28 and 29 answered with Question No. 8.
Question No. 30 answered with Question No. 23.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 23.

Ceisteanna (31)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

31. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on whether fewer parliamentary questions and representations are one of the key performance indicators of the Lariam report implementation group (details supplied) in view of the fact that such indicators indicate issues with the approach of the group to the central issues regarding the Defence Forces' continued use of Lariam. [24345/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Lariam Report Implementation Group was established to implement the recommendations of the second report of the Malaria Chemoprophylaxis Working Group. That Group had previously been established to review, inter alia, issues arising in relation to the use of Lariam, particularly in the context of the current and potential litigation.

The recommendations focus on a number of different areas including planning, training and education/information sharing as well as the establishment of a Medical Advisory Group. It is intended that this will formalise the provision of on-going expert medical advice, including external expert medical advice, to the Defence Forces in relation to a range of medical matters including Malaria Chemoprophylaxis.

The Lariam Report Implementation Group is progressing its work through the formation of a structured plan using project management techniques to implement the recommendations as outlined in the Terms of Reference. These include planning, training and education/information sharing as well as the establishment of a Medical Advisory Group.

As in any project management approach, methods to establish how well the objectives are being met and key-performance indicators (KPIs), are a fundamental requirement. The KPI referred to by the Deputy, taken from a draft Project Initiation Document (PID), is just one of a number of possible appropriate methods being considered as a method of establishing progress.

The primary objectives of this project are to ensure the long-term health and welfare of Defence Forces members requiring Malaria Chemoprophylaxis when undertaking overseas missions and clarity and transparency on the use of an appropriate Malaria Chemoprophylaxis for Defence Forces members. In this context, it is to be expected that clearer information and communication on the use of Malaria Chemoprophylaxis could potentially lead to a measureable diminution in the number of clarificatory Parliamentary Questions and representations. As mentioned previously, this is only one of a number of such benchmarks under consideration in the context of the draft PID.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 23.

Naval Service Data

Ceisteanna (33)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

33. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of applications by members of the Naval Service to come ashore under the standing two year out, two year in policy; the number of these that have been denied in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24566/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Naval Service provides the maritime component of the State's Defence capabilities and is the State's principal seagoing agency. It protects Ireland's interests at and from the sea and protects Ireland's sea lines of communications, fisheries and offshore resources.

The Naval Service endeavours to maintain a two year in/two year out rotation for personnel and mitigate for situations where this is not possible. In this regard, it should be noted that two years on a sea-based appointment does not imply that personnel spend two years at sea. Rotations are managed locally by the Flag Officer commanding the Naval Service. On occasion it may be necessary for personnel to carry out seagoing duties more frequently. The impact of seagoing is well understood by Naval personnel at all levels and the Naval Service endeavours to operate a planned approach to the sea/shore rotation of personnel.

In relation to the information sought by the Deputy, the Military Authorities inform me that the Naval Service can only provide figures relating to 2018/2019 during which 28 written applications were received and nil were denied.