Defence Forces Data

Ceisteanna (34)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

34. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 127 of 26 March 2019, the number of former members of the Defence Forces who have been awarded damages in respect of injuries received while in the Defence Forces from 2009 to date; the number of members who have subsequently had their pension entitlements restricted due to the fact they received an award in court in the same time period; the extent to which it is planned to continue this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24627/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I take it the Deputy's request is for information on the number of former members of the Defence Forces that have been awarded damages from 2009 to date in respect of injuries received while in the Defence Forces, and for an update on the information provided previously on the numbers who have had their disability benefits reduced or withheld under Section 13(2) from 2009 to date.  

Information on the number of Personal Injury Claims finalised by the State Claims Agency on behalf of the Minister for Defence is available and is provided in the following table.  This includes all personal injury claims that were subject to a court award, were settled or withdrawn/discontinued.

In relation to the numbers who have had their disability benefits reduced or withheld under Section 13(2), there has been no change to the information provided previously.  For convenience this information is provided again in the table.  

I would like to clarify that the provisions of Section 13(2) are not restricted to any time period for the award or receipt of alternative compensation and that the figures provided reflect all disability benefit cases decided by the Minister in the period 2009 to date, regardless of when the alternative awards or payments were made.  

As set out in my previous reply to Parliamentary Question No. 127 of 26 March 2019, the position is that Section 13(2) of the Army Pensions Act, 1923, as amended, provides that any alternative compensation received for the same injury or medical condition for which an award is being made under the Army Pensions Acts, may be taken into consideration in fixing the level of disability pension or gratuity that might otherwise be awarded under the Army Pensions Acts. 

The underlying objective of Section 13(2) is to take into consideration compensation paid 'on the double' for the same disablement.

I have no plans to discontinue the practice of applying this statutory provision in all relevant cases in the future.

 Year

Number of disability benefits reduced or withheld under Section 13(2) of the Army Pensions Act 1923 (as amended)

 

Number of Personal Injury Claims finalised by the State Claims Agency   on behalf of the Minister for Defence*

No. of disability pensions reduced

No. of disablement gratuities reduced/withheld

 

 

2009

4

5

 251

2010

3

7

 341

2011

2

5

 500

2012

6

8

 211

2013

3

5

 138

2014

2

2

 96

2015

4

2

 97

2016

9

6

 109

2017

15**

6

 102

2018

10

2

 97

2019 (to end May)

4

0

 42

*this includes all personal injury claims that were subject to a court award, were settled or withdrawn/discontinued

** following an internal review, a number of historical cases were decided in 2017. 

The Army Pensions Acts provide for the award of both pensions and once-off gratuities, therefore information in relation to gratuity awards has also been included, for completeness.

Naval Service

Ceisteanna (35)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

35. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the location in which Naval Service staff have been undergoing fire safety training in recent months; the arrangements being put in place relating to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24654/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) delivers specialised training to the Naval Service and is one of three training providers nationally approved to deliver and certify fire fighting training under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers (STCW).  Due to the current unavailability of the NMCI’s Fire Training Unit while it awaits remediation works, the Naval Service has sent selected personnel to complete STCW certified fire fighting training at an alternative approved training provider based in Cork Harbour.  This arrangement will continue until the Fire Training Unit has been remediated.

Army Barracks

Ceisteanna (36)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

36. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the interaction he has had with the Department of Education and Skills in respect of the possibilities for a site for a new school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24675/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Department of Education and Skills has written to my Department enquiring as to the availability of a suitable site for the provision of a post-primary school from within the Department's property portfolio in South Kildare. As the Curragh contains an operational military installation, officials from the Department have requested the views of the military authorities on the matter.

Overseas Missions

Ceisteanna (37)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

37. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which an adequate number of Irish troops scheduled to go abroad on UN and-or EU missions are numerically strong enough to ensure their safety in hostile situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24743/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Ireland's participation in United Nations led and United Nations mandated peacekeeping missions is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to the pursuit of international peace and security. At present there are some 670 members of the Defence Forces serving in overseas missions worldwide.

Ireland receives requests, from time to time, in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis. When considering any particular request, the following factors are taken into account:

- An assessment of whether a peacekeeping operation is the most appropriate response.

- Consideration of how the mission relates to the priorities of Irish foreign policy.

- The degree of risk involved.

- The extent to which the required skills or characteristics relate to Irish capabilities.

- The existence of realistic objectives and a clear mandate, which has the potential to contribute to a political solution.

- Whether the operation is adequately resourced.

- The level of existing commitments to peacekeeping operations and security requirements at home. 

The decision by Government to send troops overseas is not taken lightly.  The safety of all Irish Defence Forces personnel serving on all overseas missions is always a concern to me, my Government colleagues and to the military authorities.  Our ability to protect the health and safety of our personnel is of paramount concern when considering any mission.

While no absolute guarantees can be given with regard to the safety of troops serving in missions, it is the policy and practice to ensure that Defence Forces personnel serving overseas are appropriately trained and equipped with the most modern and effective equipment to carry out their mission, as well as providing the required protection specific to the mission.

Ongoing threat assessments are carried out in the mission area and personal equipment and force assets are continually reviewed, to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are appropriately equipped to fulfil their role.  Unfortunately, no mission is without danger, but I am satisfied that all appropriate security measures are in place to ensure that safety of all Defence Forces personnel serving overseas. 

Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (38)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

38. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the current strength of each branch of the Defence Forces; the extent to which numbers have been augmented to ensure maintenance of adequate strength throughout the forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24744/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The military authorities have advised that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force (whole time equivalent), across all services and ranks, at 30th April 2019 was 8,828 personnel comprised of:

Rank

Current strength

Army

7,133 personnel

Air Corps

709 personnel

Naval Service

986 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).

In order to achieve this target, there is significant on-going recruitment and such recruitment will continue throughout the year with the Defence Forces recruitment plan working towards a target of 800 new entrants being inducted in 2019 which will include General Service Recruits, Cadets, Aircraft Apprentice Technicians and Direct Entry Specialists.  

The Government remains 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 Data

Ceisteanna (39, 40, 46)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

39. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces who retired or resigned in each of the past three years; the number of replacements recruited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24745/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

40. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of women recruited to the Defence Forces in each of the past three years to date; the number that resigned or retired in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24746/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

46. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces scheduled to retire in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24752/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 40 and 46 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table:

 Year

Departures

Total 

Departures

Female 

Inducted

Total 

Inducted

Female

 2016

 679

 23

 690

 50

 2017

 742

 42

 751

 68

 2018

 731

 53

  612*

 50

*This figure does not include 15 serving soldiers (1 of which was female) who were awarded a Cadetship

I am advised by the military authorities that 171 members of the Permanent Defence Force are predicted to retire on age grounds between 1 June 2019 and 1st June 2020.

Ongoing recruitment has continued in 2019 with the Defence Forces recruitment plan working towards a target of 800 new entrants being inducted in during the year which will include General Service Recruits, Cadets, Aircraft Apprentice Technicians and Direct Entry Specialists.  

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. 

Overseas Missions

Ceisteanna (41)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

41. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if, in the context of proposed overseas deployment of the Defence Forces, an opportunity may be taken to improve and upgrade training in line with an increased threat to their well-being; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24747/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Members of the Defence Forces are provided with training to fulfil the tasks required of them at home and while deployed overseas.  Troops selected for overseas service undergo a rigorous pre-deployment programme of training designed to help them carry out their peacekeeping mission and to provide for their protection.  That training provided is tailored to the specific mission, the role of the contingent within the UN mandated force and the respective rules of engagement. 

On-going threat assessments are carried out in the mission area and personal equipment and force protection assets are continually reviewed, to ensure that Defence Forces personnel continue to be appropriately trained and equipped to fulfil their role.  Training and force protection assets for the contingent are adjusted as required in light of changes in the threat assessments. 

Our ability to protect the health and safety of our personnel is of paramount concern when considering any mission.  While no absolute guarantees can be given with regard to the safety of troops serving in missions, it is the policy and practice to ensure that Defence Forces personnel serving overseas are appropriately trained and equipped with the most modern and effective equipment to carry out their mission, as well as providing the required protection specific to the mission. 

Ireland provides professional military personnel to participate in peace support operations who have been trained extensively and in addition, provides a world class Centre of Excellence for training in the field of international peace support operations and crisis management through our United Nation Training School. 

Defence Forces Resources

Ceisteanna (42)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

42. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which supply and transport throughout the Defence Forces are sufficiently upgraded and renewed to meet threats; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24748/19]

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 Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The acquisition of new equipment and the upgrading of 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 both at home and overseas.

In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The National Development Plan provides for a total of €541 million for Defence over the period 2018-2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years.  

The fleet of vehicles, armoured and non-armoured utilised in the support of Defence Forces transport and logistics tasks and activities is constantly under review.

The mid-life upgrade programme for the Army’s fleet of eighty MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carriers will extend the utility of the fleet and provide greater levels of protection, mobility and firepower. Additionally, twenty-four 4 x 4 Armoured Utility Vehicles were acquired in 2017, and in 2018 delivery was taken of ten new armoured logistic vehicles. These measures will provide essential force protection for personnel overseas. 

There is also continuous investment in the non-armoured vehicle fleet. In 2018,  20 minibuses, 22 saloons, 61 logistics vehicles and 2 recovery vehicles were purchased for the Defence Forces,  and funding is provided on an on-going basis for the required maintenance of vehicles in the military transport fleet, both at home and overseas. In addition,  a tender competition is underway to replace the Army's 4 x 4 Fitted For Radio fleet of vehicles, while planning is underway to replace the fleet of Troop Carrying Vehicles. 

I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary modern and effective range of equipment available to them which is in line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Ceisteanna (43)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

43. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which pay and conditions throughout the Defence Forces remain under review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24749/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Similar to other sectors in the public service, the pay of Permanent Defence Force personnel was reduced as one of the measures to assist in stabilising national finances during the financial crisis. The recovery in the economy has provided the fiscal resources to restore payscales to all public servants in an affordable and sustainable manner. Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay.

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the Agreement. The increases due under the agreement to date have been paid to Permanent Defence Force personnel. Further increases in pay are scheduled in 2019 and 2020.

By the end of the current Public Service Pay agreement the payscales of all public servants (including members of the Defence Forces), earning under €70,000 per annum, will be restored to pre FEMPI levels. The restoration of the 5% reduction to allowances cut under FEMPI is also scheduled as part of that agreement.

New entrants who joined the Defence Forces since 2011, may also benefit from the measures which will see interventions at points 4 and 8 of the pay scales for all such relevant new entrants to the public service.

In accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the Government has tasked the Public Service Pay Commission with conducting a more comprehensive examination of the specific recruitment and retention challenges in the Defence Sector. The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform will bring the Report to Government shortly.

The Government will give due consideration to the findings and recommendations that arise from the work of the Commission. 

Defence Forces Resources

Ceisteanna (44)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

44. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which he remains satisfied that adequate resources remain available to the Air Corps and Naval Service to meet security or search and rescue demands likely to be made of them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24750/19]

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 is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The resources available to the Defence Forces to carry out their operational commitments are kept under constant review and future equipment priorities for the 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 Government is currently investing in updating the Air Corps fleet of aircraft with the replacement of the existing five Cessna aircraft with three larger and more capable fixed wing utility Pilatus PC 12 aircraft at a cost of €30m plus VAT which are being equipped for ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance). It is expected that the three aircraft will be delivered by 2020. Planning is also in progress to replace the CASA Maritime Patrol aircraft and a tender competition is currently underway in this regard. 

The Naval Service ship replacement programme is evidence of the Government's commitment to investment in the Naval Service with four new Offshore Patrol Vessels delivered between 2014 and 2018.  In addition, a Programme to extend the life of the P50 class vessels operated by the Naval Service, LÉ Roisín and LÉ Niamh, has recently commenced. Planning is also under way for the replacement of the current Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi role vessel.  

With reference to Search and Rescue, the Irish Coast Guard has overall responsibility for the provision of search and rescue services within the Irish search and rescue region. In accordance with the current White Paper, the Defence Forces have a role in assisting the civil authorities (Aid to the Civil Authority) and both the Air Corps and the Naval Service provide support to the Coast Guard on an 'as available' basis in accordance with an agreed Service Level Agreement.

 I am satisfied that the Defence Forces, including the Air Corps and Naval Service, have the necessary resources to meet these commitments.

Overseas Missions

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 39.

Ceisteanna (45)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

45. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the degree to which payments for overseas services by the Defence Forces are up to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24751/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My Department is not aware of any issues regarding the payment of overseas allowance in general. Overseas and Armed Peace Support allowances are paid along with the pay of the members of the Permanent Defence Force serving overseas and payment is commenced following notification from the military authorities that a member has proceeded overseas on a particular mission. Payment of the allowances is then ceased following notification of his/her return from overseas. From time to time there are variations in planned departure and return dates and, once notified by the military authorities, the relevant allowances are adjusted on the next possible pay date.

 If the Deputy has a particular issue in mind he might let me know and I will have the matter examined.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 39.

Defence Forces Reserve Training

Ceisteanna (47)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

47. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the Reserve Defence Forces receive annual training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24753/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The White Paper on Defence sets out a map for the RDF and that their primary role is to support the PDF in crisis situations. As such, the RDF undertakes training in preparation to assist the PDF when required. Training across the Defence Forces is constantly measured against best military and academic practice. Training procedures are constantly reviewed in order to ensure that the men and women of the Defence Forces are fully prepared to meet the challenges of the ever changing security environment.

In the Army Reserve, recruits undergo varied training in areas such as combat first aid, military law and tactical training. A major part of Recruit training is training in the use of the Steyr 5.56mm Assault Rifle. After recruit training is complete, personnel are then trained in the operation of basic radio communications, map reading, Nuclear, Biological & Chemical warfare defence and the Light Machine Gun. Each Corps also carries out specialist training in its particular field. For example, the Infantry and Cavalry Corps train in weapons and tactics and the Corps of Engineers train in engineering tasks, such as demolition, construction and mine warfare.

In the Naval Service Reserve, the two main courses undertaken as a recruit are Sea Survival and Damage Control & Fire Fighting. Naval Service Reserve personnel also undergo training in the operation of various crafts operated by the Naval Service, such as Motor Training Launches and Rigid Inflatable Boats. As in the Army Reserve, Naval Service Reserve personnel are trained in the use of the Steyr 5.56mm Assault Rifle. Naval Service Reserve personnel also receive full training in VHF Radios, including voice procedure at sea and operation of the VHF systems. Courses are also run for personnel on the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.

With regard to RDF training for the current year, Subhead A.5 provides for a budget of €2.15 million of which €2.068 million is allocated for Paid Training Mandays for members of the Reserve. This allocation will provide seven days annual paid training for all effective members of the Reserve, fourteen days paid training for all additional personnel recruited to the Reserve in 2019 and provide for career and specialist courses for selected members of the Reserve in line with Reserve priorities. This provision is sufficient having regard to the existing strength of the RDF and the voluntary nature of Reserve training.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (48)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

48. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the degree to which old or obsolete equipment continues to be upgraded and replaced throughout all branches of the Defence Forces including the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24754/19]

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 Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The acquisition of new equipment and the upgrading of 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 both at home and overseas.

The mid-life upgrade programme for the Army’s fleet of eighty MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carriers will extend the utility of the fleet and provide greater levels of protection, mobility and firepower. Additionally, twenty-four 4 x 4 Armoured Utility Vehicles were acquired in 2017, and in 2018 delivery was taken of ten new armoured logistic vehicles. These measures will provide essential force protection overseas. 

There is also continuous investment in the non-armoured vehicle fleet. In 2018, 20 minibuses, 22 saloons, 61 logistics vehicles and 2 recovery vehicles were purchased for the Defence Forces,  and funding is provided on an on-going basis for the required maintenance of vehicles in the military transport fleet, both at home and overseas. In addition, a tender competition is under way to replace the Army's 4 x 4 Fitted For Radio fleet of vehicles, while planning is underway to replace the fleet of Troop Carrying Vehicles. 

The Government is currently investing in updating the Air Corps fleet of aircraft with the replacement of the existing five Cessna aircraft with three larger and more capable fixed wing utility Pilatus PC 12 aircraft which are being equipped for ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance). It is expected that the three aircraft will be delivered by 2020. Planning is also in progress to replace the CASA Maritime Patrol aircraft and a tender competition is currently underway in this regard. 

The on-going Naval Service ship replacement programme is evidence of the Government's commitment to investment in the Naval Service. Three new Offshore Patrol Vessels were delivered between 2014 and 2017 with a fourth, LÉ George Bernard Shaw, delivered in late 2018. The mid life extension programme for the P50 class of vessels is currently underway with works on LÉ Roisín having commenced in March and the planned programme of works on LÉ Niamh programme will commence in 2020. This structured mid-life extension programme of works will future proof the two vessels, allow for preventative maintenance and address obsolescence of equipment through capitalising on advancements in technology, thus ensuring the reliability of the vessel for the next 15 years. In addition, planning is underway for the replacement of the current Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi role vessel. 

The examples given, whilst not exhaustive, demonstrate my commitment to update and upgrade the Defence Forces equipment and capability, within the financial envelope available. In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The National Development Plan provides for a total of €541 million for Defence over the period 2018-2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years. 

I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary modern and effective range of equipment available to them which is in line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (49)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

49. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the staff numbers in his Department in each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The number of whole time equivalent civil servants working in my Department at 31 December in each of the years 2009 to 2018, and at 4 June 2019, is set out the following table. The staffing requirements of my Department are kept under review and are informed by the business requirements of the organisation.  

Year 

 No. of Staff

 2019 (4 June)

346.28

 2018

338.71 

 2017

328.47

 2016

339.12

 2015

331.41 

 2014

343.04 

 2013

342.03 

 2012

349.55

 2011

347.74

 2010

 353.92 

 2009

 375.66

Northern Ireland

Ceisteanna (50)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

50. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he discussed the arrests of journalists involved in the making of a documentary (details supplied) with the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24615/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Government is aware that, following a judicial review, a decision was taken by the PSNI not to progress the investigation  into the journalists. We welcome this decision. Obviously in any democracy press freedom is essential. My officials met with the two journalists on a number of occasions in the course of this process and kept it under review throughout.   

The Government has consistently made clear the view that the report published by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland on the Loughinisland murders in 1994 causes very deep concerns, in particular the finding that “collusion is a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders”.

My thoughts are with the families of the six victims of the terrible attack at Loughinisland in 1994.

It remains the case and is fundamentally important, given the heinous crime committed at Loughinisland in 1994, that any evidential opportunities - now or in the future - are fully and appropriately examined with a view to the question of further investigations and possible prosecutions.

The clear concerns with the Loughinisland case still need to be addressed and in a broader frame the comprehensive approach of the Stormont House Agreement must be urgently implemented. I have engaged extensively with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to actively pursue the implementation of the legacy framework as soon as possible, with the needs of victims and survivors at the core of our approach.

Human Rights

Ceisteanna (51)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

51. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the action he has taken regarding the conditions in detention camps in which refugees and migrants are being detained in Libya. [24649/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I continue to be deeply troubled by the human rights abuses that migrants and refugees suffer in Libya, in particular the persistent abuses that have been reported in detention centres. I am particularly concerned by the ongoing fighting around the Libyan capital, Tripoli, which is endangering thousands of civilians, including putting already vulnerable migrants and refugees in Libya at further risk.

At the Foreign Affairs Council in December 2018, the EU committed to continue to work with the Libyan authorities to improve conditions for migrants and refugees, with a view to addressing the current system of detention. The EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, met with the Prime Minister of Libya and the UN Special Representative for Libya in February 2019 and discussed how conditions in detention centres can continue to be improved for migrants with the assistance of the EU and UN agencies.

Ireland and the EU will continue to support the work of the UN migration and refugee agencies to monitor and improve conditions for refugees and migrants in Libya, including inside detention centres, and to assist with the voluntary return of migrants to their countries of origin. As I have consistently stated, conditions in Libyan detention centres are totally unacceptable. The European Union is working to find ways to ensure that migrants are not held in detention centres in the first place, and to put an end to the system of arbitrary detention in Libya. In the meantime, we are working with the UN migration and refugee agencies and other international partners to provide protection and assistance to vulnerable migrants and refugees at Libyan disembarkation points, in most of the official detention centres, and in host communities.

Unfortunately, the current instability in Libya further limits the capacity of the international community to do this important work in some areas. I applaud the efforts of the UNHCR, which, over the past two months, and in the midst of escalating violence, has successfully relocated hundreds of refugees and migrants from more dangerous areas into safe zones.

EU diplomats regularly discuss the situation in Libya, taking stock of any opportunities to exert a positive influence on the situation, and to support political efforts to resolve the conflict. In recent EU discussions on Libya, Irish officials have highlighted the importance of guaranteeing the safety of refugees and migrants. However, political fragmentation and the fragile security situation in Libya limit the capacity of the EU and the wider international community to influence the situation on the ground. Bringing real improvements to the lives of Libyans and migrants, and ensuring an end to human rights abuses, will require restoration of political stability, and a fully functioning and unified Government.

Ireland and the EU fully support the work of the UN Special Representative in Libya, Ghassan Salamé, and we urge all parties to engage constructively with the UN with the aim of achieving a political solution that guarantees Libya’s security, economic sustainability, and national unity. At the Foreign Affairs Council in May, we discussed with UN Special Representative Salamé what the EU can do to help prevent further escalation in the conflict. My officials and I will continue to highlight the plight of migrants and refugees in Libya at every appropriate opportunity.

Fisheries Protection

Ceisteanna (52)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

52. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he or his officials have spoken with their Scottish counterparts about Rockall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24759/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

In April 2017, Marine Scotland (an agency of the Scottish Government) advised the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that it intended to exclude Irish fishing vessels from waters within a 12-mile zone around Rockall. The proposed Scottish action was based on the UK Government’s stance on sovereignty over Rockall and their interpretation of their prerogatives under UK fisheries legislation and the UK’s 1972 Island of Rockall Act, combined with the absence of an explicit provision in Annex 1 of the Common Fisheries Policy Regulation permitting Irish vessels to access territorial waters around Rockall.

Since then, discussions have been ongoing. At political level, the issue was discussed between myself and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, in September 2018, and this discussion was followed by an exchange of letters. Further discussions have taken place at senior official level this year.

On 31 May, Cabinet Secretary Hyslop wrote to me to indicate that, subject to operational priorities, the Scottish Government intended to deploy vessels to the area one week after the date of the letter (i.e. from 7 June) and intended to take enforcement actions against any vessel, regardless of nationality, that it considered to be fishing illegally. I replied to this letter on 5 June, stating the position of the Irish Government and requesting that the Scottish Government reconsider its approach. I spoke with Cabinet Secretary Hyslop on 6 June and, during the course of this conversation, she maintained the Scottish position. 

This is a complex situation. The difference of view between the Irish and Scottish Governments is based on a fundamental question of sovereignty over Rockall, on which Ireland and the UK disagree.

I should make it clear that as we do not accept that the UK enjoys sovereignty over Rockall, we do not accept that a territorial sea exists around Rockall, nor therefore that the Scottish Government is entitled to exclude Irish vessels from the seas around the rock. We understand that the UK takes a different view, but the approach taken by the Irish and British Governments to the definition of maritime boundaries in the past has been to accept that our views differ and to take no account of Rockall for practical purposes.

Dialogue regarding Rockall is continuing between the Irish and Scottish Governments. There have been close contacts at official level over recent days. It has now been agreed that a process of intensified engagement will take place, led by senior officials from both administrations.

The Government has consistently said this matter should be dealt with through diplomacy and agreement. We are hopeful that on this basis the latest tensions can be de-escalated.

Central Bank of Ireland Staff

Ceisteanna (53)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

53. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the appointment of the new Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The New Zealand State Services Commissioner is carrying out an investigation into the unauthorised access of New Zealand Budget material and the events surrounding it.  The State Services Commissioner, Peter Hughes, has stated that his office will not be making any comment on the matter until his investigation is concluded and all of the facts have been ascertained.  The investigation aims to conclude by 27 June 2019, if possible. Consequently, it would not be appropriate for me or the Government to comment on the matter at this time. 

Department of Finance officials have been in contact with our Embassy in New Zealand to obtain updates on the matter. 

I understand that Mr. Makhlouf has agreed to the ongoing review as the best approach to establishing the facts of the matter.  He is continuing to work as usual in his role as CEO of the New Zealand Treasury. 

The appointment of the Governor of the Central Bank is provided for under section 19 (1) of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended). The Government recommended the appointment of Mr. Makhlouf as Governor of the Central Bank to the President following a comprehensive, open, and international process.  

The process included a public call for expressions of interest, a comprehensive search using independent executive search firm Merc Partners, a rigorous shortlisting of applicants, psychometric testing of final interview candidates, and a final interview of five candidates. 

Mr. Makhlouf was the recommendation of the independent interview panel. The President signed the warrant appointing Mr. Makhlouf to the role of Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland on 14 May 2019.  He is due to take up his role in September.

Departmental Legal Costs

Ceisteanna (54)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

54. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Finance the cost to date of legal fees incurred in the case being pursued by the State relating to the decision of the European Commission regarding the alleged grant of state aid to a company (details supplied); the names and amount of fees paid to date to each law firm, senior counsel and barrister; if the senior counsel or barristers are full-time employees of universities here; his views on whether such payments are in breach of the one person, one salary principle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24623/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Ireland has never accepted the Commission’s analysis in the Apple State aid Decision and is challenging the Commission’s decision before the European Courts. Notwithstanding this, the Irish authorities have engaged fully with the Commission throughout the State aid investigation. This involved a significant degree of legal and technical complexity, and additional expertise has been engaged where required.

Over the past seven years approximately €7.1 million (including VAT) has been paid in total, of which approximately €3.7 million relates to the recovery process. This includes all legal costs, consultancy fees and other associated costs. These fees have been paid by the Department of Finance, Revenue Commissioners, NTMA, Central Bank of Ireland, Attorney General’s Office and Chief State Solicitor’s Office. As this is an important issue for the State, the case will continue to be resourced as necessary.

We have received legal advice that the disclosure of information relating to professional fees paid to named barristers on foot of a PQ is likely to be in breach of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act.  It is, however, possible to provide anonymised or aggregated information regarding Counsels fees provided that this is done in such a way as to protect the identity the individual barristers.

In reply to your questions the following table provides details of the legal fees incurred to date, inclusive of VAT.  

Service Providers

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

 

External Counsel

€4,113.12

€174,497.94

€326,258.60

€487,090.00

€1,129,736.00

€446,290.00

142,116.66

€2,710,102.32

William Fry

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€206,667.68

€2,082,203.90

€798,045.85

€28,400.95

€3,115,318.38

McCann Fitzgerald

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€72,570.00

€455,900.00

€0.00

€528,470.00

PWC

€0.00

€0.00

€327,057.00

€268,343.38

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€595,400.38

Hogan Lovells

 

€3,936.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€3,936.00

Experts

€0.00

€3,075.00

€0.00

€3,874.00

€147,536.49

€10,840.91

€0.00

€165,326.40

TOTAL

€4,113.12

€181,508.94

€653,315.60

€965,975.06

€3,432,046.39

€1,711,076.76

€170,517.61

€7,118,553.48