Defence Forces Remuneration

Ceisteanna (40, 69, 70, 71, 79, 81, 90)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

40. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the timeline for the implementation of priority actions related to technical pay arrangements in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30830/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

69. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the actions taken on the previous review to the technical pay structure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30555/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

70. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department has examined whether some of the Permanent Defence Force in receipt of the security duty allowance do not receive the minimum wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30556/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

71. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has examined if certain ranks of the Permanent Defence Force are not in receipt of the minimum wage when their hours worked is compared to their pay and allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30557/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

79. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on whether overseas missions will be compromised with 57.8% of members stating that they intend to leave the Permanent Defence Force in the next two years as outlined in the Public Service Pay Commission report on the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30565/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

81. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will respond to the 84.5% of members of the Defence Forces that stated pay levels as a reason to leave in the Public Service Pay Commission report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30567/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

90. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will implement a review undertaken by military management into technical grades 2 to 6 as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission; the implementation timeline for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30576/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40, 69, 70, 71, 79, 81 and 90 together.

At its meeting held on the 4th July 2019, the Government accepted, in full, the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Permanent Defence Force. The report contains a broad range of recommendations to deal with recruitment and retention challenges in the Permanent Defence Force.

The recommendations includes a 10% increase in Military Service Allowance, the restoration of the rates of certain allowances cut in the Haddington Road Agreement, and the re-introduction of the retention/loyalty bonus for Air Corp pilots.

These are immediate benefits. Future recommendations from this report include a review of technical pay and a review of pay structures in the Permanent Defence Force.

The Government also agreed an extensive implementation plan for the report. The plan sets out the actions to be taken and the timelines within which they will be taken.

In addition, the plan sets out an oversight process and my Department is putting in place the civil and military structures to support that process.

The report of the Public Service Pay Commission is being considered by the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations and there will be further meetings in the coming weeks to provide clarification of matters arising.

Departmental Functions

Ceisteanna (41)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

41. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department requires approval by him for information issued from the Defence Forces press office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30514/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As well as being responsible overall for Defence matters, the Minister for Defence is head of the civil and military branches of the Department of Defence. 

As has been long established practice, information matters, including media engagement, follow coordination between the relevant civil and military branches, under the authority of the Minister.  

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (42, 43)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

42. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the cybersecurity incidence response team is exclusively comprised of Defence Forces personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30517/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

43. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if there is an external procurement for the cybersecurity incidence response team; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30518/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 43 together.

As outlined in the Governments White Paper on Defence 2015, the issue of Cyber Security has very significant implications for governmental administration, for industry, for economic wellbeing and for the security and safety of citizens. Indeed Cyber Security is a standing item on the agenda of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, which I chair.

The response to cyber threats remains a whole-of-Government challenge, with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment taking the lead role, with inputs in the security domain from An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces. The Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are committed to participating, under the leadership of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, in the delivery of measures to improve the cyber security of the State.

Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is located in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment provides a range of cyber security services to owners of Government IT infrastructure and Critical National Infrastructure. The NCSC is also home to the national Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT-IE), which acts as a national point of contact involving entities within Ireland, and as the point of contact for international discussions on issues of cyber security. The scope of CSIRT-IE's activities covers prevention, detection, response and mitigation services to Government Departments and State agencies and critical national infrastructure providers.

The Defence Forces provide seconded specialists to assist with the work of this team when resources allow. Also, as in any emergency/crisis situation, once the Defence systems are supported, the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces may provide additional support to the CSIRT-IE team in so far as resources allow.

Details regarding the specific establishment and composition of the Defence Forces Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) cannot be provided for operational and security reasons. In addition, I am informed by the military authorities that there is no external procurement for the Defence Forces Cyber Security Incident Response Team. From time to time the Defence Forces does go to the market for security related services.

Defence Forces Personnel

Ceisteanna (44)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

44. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if there is additional vetting for civilians that join his Department from other public bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30519/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

All new entrant civil servants are subject to vetting and security clearance processes prior to being offered a post in the Department of Defence.  Security vetting has a number of layers and is conducted in conjunction with An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.  Civil servants transferring to my Department from another Government Department will have been subject to the vetting process for all entrants to the civil service.  Certain post holders are the subject of further clearance processes.

For operational reasons, it would be inappropriate to set out or discuss those detailed processes.  Security is kept under ongoing review and my officials work closely with the Defence Forces in relation to such matters.

Cyber Security Protocols

Ceisteanna (45)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

45. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if networks in his Department have been subjected to cyberattacks in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30521/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Cyberattacks are a constant threat to organisations across the globe, including the Department of Defence.  These attacks represent challenges that are constantly evolving and require vigilance and appropriate responses. The nature of any cyberattack and the potential impact also varies considerably depending on the approach and objective of those with malicious intent. Cybersecurity is multifaceted and my Department has implemented a defence-in-depth approach using best in class technologies to mitigate against such attacks.  For security and operational reasons, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on such cyber security matters.

Cyber Security Protocols

Ceisteanna (46)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

46. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Defence Forces networks are secured on a 24-7 basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30522/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I am informed by the military authorities that the Defence Forces networks are secured on a 24/7 basis.

From an operational and security perspective it would be inappropriate to comment further on the cyber and network security capabilities of the Defence Forces other than to say that there is on-going and continued development of these capabilities within the Defence Forces.  

Air Corps

Ceisteanna (47)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

47. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if commandants in the Air Corps will be paid the duty allowance for the emergency aeromedical service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30524/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Conciliation and Arbitration (C&A) scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force provides a formal mechanism for the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations, that is PDFORRA and RACO, to engage with the Official side.

The payment of an allowance for Commandants in the Air Corps who perform emergency aeromedical service duties is currently being processed through the C&A scheme. As discussions under the C&A scheme are confidential to the parties involved, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (48)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

48. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the level of preparedness of the Defence Forces to respond in the event of an attack; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30531/19]

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.

At National level, representation on the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning by both the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, ensures the fullest coordination and cooperation in the event of an emergency and that the command structure within the Defence Forces is compatible with the requirements in this area.

In accordance with the Framework for Major Emergency Management, primary responsibility for responding to emergencies such as severe weather events or terrorist attacks rests with the three designated principal response agencies, namely, the relevant Local Authority, An Garda Síochána, and the Health Service Executive. The Defence Forces provide the fullest possible assistance to the appropriate Lead Department in the event of a natural disaster or an emergency situation in its Aid to the Civil Authority and Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) roles. Major Emergency Plans have been developed by local and regional authorities and these Plans identify the procedures for requesting assistance from the Defence Forces.

I also wish to assure you that the Defence Forces retain a wide range of specialist skills and equipment. The full spectrum of Defence Forces personnel and equipment are available for deployment in response to any emergencies that may arise. The Operations Directorate in Defence Forces Headquarters manages the necessary cross-service coordination in responding to requests for support.  In this context, the security environment is kept under constant review.  An Garda Síochána can request a broad range of specialist supports from the Defence Forces including Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams and the Army Ranger Wing.  These arrangements have proved effective in all emergencies encountered to date.

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 is considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process and I wish to assure you that significant investment in equipment is taking place in the coming years in this context.

I am committed to ensuring that the personnel of the Defence Forces continue to be equipped and trained to best international standards and I can confirm that the Defence Forces keep their operational plans and response capabilities for dealing with a wide range of threats under constant review. I am satisfied that the Defence Forces are equipped and resourced to respond, as appropriate, to any such events were they to occur in this State.

Gender Equality

Ceisteanna (49)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

49. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of initiatives related to gender equality measures and the deployment of female personnel in peacekeeping missions as outlined in the White Paper on Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30532/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

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.  

Unlike some other national armed 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. Women, therefore, play a full and meaningful role in all aspects of Defence Forces operations at home and overseas on peacekeeping missions. In this regard, the Defence Forces participates on an international level in the sphere of Women, Peace and Security (WPS). Ireland's third National Action Plan  on WPS renews Ireland’s commitment to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, setting out how Ireland will continue to promote and implement the objectives of the agenda in its programme support activities, diplomatic advocacy and policy-making across the interrelated areas of peace, security and development. In relation to overseas deployment, a female Officer in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, is currently serving as Advisor to NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security and a female officer in the Acting rank of Brigadier General has been appointed Deputy Force Commander in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). In 2016 a female officer commanded a Defence Forces contingent in UNDOF on a six month tour of duty.

The participation by female personnel in all aspects of Defence Forces operations is further exemplified in the Defence Forces Equality Policy and the Defence Forces Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Statement and Action Plan, which outlines the Organisation’s commitment to gender equality and its proactive approaches to recruiting females.

In line with these policies and commitments, a number of initiatives have been implemented to increase the level of female participation in the Defence Forces. For example: 

- Special consideration is paid to women as a target group for recruitment and within the general recruitment framework.

- In order to extend the reach to the target demographic of 18-26 year old women, the Defence Forces has initiated a collaboration with Irish sporting bodies, commencing with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

- The introduction of best practices in recruitment such as the adjustment of physical standards for female applicants and a balanced composition between men and women on recruitment and selection boards.

 A Gender Advisor has been appointed to promote gender equality policies and training within the Defence Forces. The Defence Forces are committed to gender equality and employ a gender perspective in all policies and regulations. Gender Advisors are available to all Brigades and Services and trained Gender Focal Points are deployed with all overseas units and ships in order to promote a gender perspective in operations.  

A Defence Forces Women's Network has been established with the aim of increasing the participation of female personnel at all levels of the organisation. The Network allows women to identify any actual or perceived barriers to participation, which then feed into wider HR retention policies. The Defence Forces were shortlisted for the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) Awards 2018, Diversity & Inclusion category, for its Women’s Network initiative.

A number of family friendly overseas appointments for commissioned and enlisted personnel have been introduced, where the normal 6-month tour of duty can be ‘shared’ with another member of the Defence Forces resulting in a 3 month deployment.

The Defence Forces maternity policy includes measures such as Defence Forces personnel not being detailed for overseas/sea going service until a child has reached the age of two, to allow the mother to care for the child as part of a family friendly policy.

Over the course of the White Paper on Defence 2015, a ten year strategy, further initiatives and projects will be developed to encourage more women to apply for the Defence Forces and to increase female participation at all ranks. This will include a survey to identify any impediments to the advancement of women in the Permanent Defence Force, as well as the impact of the requirements of career courses and overseas service on female retention and advancement. 

White Paper on Defence

Ceisteanna (50)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

50. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the development of the new institute for peace support and leadership training as outlined in the White Paper on Defence; the educational and organisational partnerships the institute has made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30533/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The White Paper on Defence includes a commitment to evaluate the potential development of a new Institute for Peace Support and Leadership Training at the Defence Forces Training Centre in the Curragh. The Deputy will be aware that a formal feasibility study in this regard has been underway since January 2018. An interim report was presented to the project steering group in November 2018, and a final report is expected to be finalised in Q3 2019. This will inform the next steps to be taken, including potential educational and organisational partnerships should the proposed institute be deemed feasible.

White Paper on Defence

Ceisteanna (51)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

51. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the review of the contribution of Ireland to UNSAS and the EU headline goal as outlined in the White Paper on Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30534/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The White Paper on Defence, published in August 2015, contains a commitment to carry out a review of Ireland's declared contribution to the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS) and the EU Headline Goal in light of the changing security environment and the on-going modernisation and transformation of Defence Forces capabilities.  The review is also to consider the potential deployability of the full range of Defence Forces' capabilities including Army, Air Corps and Naval Service capabilities and assets on peace support and crisis management operations.

The specific actions contained in the White Paper are being carried out on a phased basis over the period of the White Paper.  Implementation on a phased basis is necessary in order to reflect  Programme for Partnership Government and Strategy Statement commitments, the related nature of some projects and resourcing implications.  This process is being kept under review and is subject to change as issues arise or other business dictates.

The review as envisaged in the 2015 White Paper on Defence has to a certain extent been overtaken by events.  Since publication of the White Paper, the UN has replaced UNSAS with the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS).  PCRS is a new system for troop contributing countries to declare capabilities, over and above those already deployed, which a country would be prepared to make available to UN peacekeeping operations on request. The purpose of this system is to provide the UN with a dynamic up to date catalogue of trained and available forces to draw from when establishing or reinforcing a UN mission.  

Ireland has pledged personnel and equipment capabilities under PCRS.  In addition, in response to current and emerging uniformed capability requirements for UN peacekeeping, Ireland has pledged and delivered training in Ireland and overseas, for troop contributing country personnel deploying to UN missions.

Since the White Paper was published, we have also had an actual Naval Service deployment on an overseas operation.  Between 2015 and 2017, the Naval Service deployed ships to 'Operation Pontus', a humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean, and between 2017 and 2018, the Naval Service participated in the EU mission, EUNAVFORMED, Operation Sophia also in the Mediterranean, which was primarily a security and surveillance mission. 

Given current priorities, the finalisation of this project has been deferred to allow us to bed in the new UN PCRS system and also respond to the UN priorities for peacekeeping training where we are actively engaged in supporting Troop Contributing Countries in the Sahel as an additional tasking.  The changing nature of demands and potential future mission profiles will also need to be considered in the context of the assets and capabilities which can be made available by the Defence Forces for overseas deployment, given existing operational demands at home and overseas. 

Defence Forces

Ceisteanna (52)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

52. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the development of the defence enterprise initiative and the establishment of the security and defence enterprise group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30536/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In July 2011, the Government approved arrangements, whereby Enterprise Ireland supports the Defence Forces capability development, by raising the awareness of, and engaging with, Irish-based enterprise and research institutes, including third level colleges that are engaged in relevant and related activities.  This Defence Enterprise Initiative is achieved through the Defence Enterprise Committee overseen by the Defence Enterprise Co-ordination Committee. These committees comprise of personnel from the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces and Enterprise Ireland.  All proposals are vetted and agreed by the Defence Enterprise Committee to ensure compatibility with the roles assigned to the Defence Forces by the Government and where collaboration with industry/ third-level institutes will support Defence Forces capabilities. 

The Defence Forces, in turn, support Irish enterprise and research institutes, including third level colleges, through the provision of resources and expertise to areas of new technology or research, which have the potential to contribute to the development and enhancement of Defence Forces crisis management capabilities. Under this initiative, the Defence Forces are currently supporting a range of projects that cover research, training and innovation with Irish indigenous companies and Research Institutes. 

In accordance with the Government approval, the primary focus of these engagements was in relation to projects under the European Defence Agency and civilian or dual-use security type projects under Horizon 2020. 

Under the 2015 White Paper on Defence,  three projects were launched in relation to the Defence enterprise  and innovation.  The establishment of the Security and Defence Enterprise Group forms part of these projects.   A joint Civil Military Project Team has been established to progress these projects as part of an overall programme.  A number of the essential building blocks have been put in place to support this project and the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are now engaging with the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation and with Enterprise Ireland in relation to best approach for engagement with industry and research institutes which includes the establishment of the Security and Defence Enterprise Group. 

White Paper on Defence

Ceisteanna (53)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

53. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the progress of the review of high level command and control structures; if high level command and control structures operate using international best practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30538/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The White Paper on Defence gave a commitment that the Secretary General and the Chief of Staff would jointly undertake a review of the current high level command and control structures in the Defence Forces having regard to international best practice on military command and control and drawing upon external expertise.  This review was also to include a review for managing joint operations and intelligence. 

During scoping of the White Paper implementation programme 88 actions or projects were specifically identified.  One of these is the review of high level command and control.   This project was initiated in June 2016 and work has continued on this project including a review of high level command and control internationally.  Stages completed so far include the stakeholder analysis of senior civil and military management, in-depth analysis and engagement with four international comparators, survey of EU and PIAG states, two engagements with the external consultant and the production of an interim and a supplementary report on work carried out during the analysis phase of the project.  Further research is now being carried out prior to the commencement of the model development stage of the project.   The Secretary General and the Chief of Staff are the project sponsors which is indicative of the high priority for this project within the Defence Organisation. 

As the project is still on-going and has yet to report to me it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.    

Public Service Pay Commission Reports

Ceisteanna (54, 73, 77, 78, 80, 82, 83, 84, 89)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

54. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the retention rate of military personnel with advanced cybersecurity skill sets; the status of the development of strategies to retain military personnel with such skill sets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30539/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

73. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the recommendation of family care and quality of life initiatives in addition to guaranteed training programmes which benefit career development will be implemented as recommended in the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30559/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

77. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will address the low level of job satisfaction for the Permanent Defence Force as indicated in the Public Service Pay Commission report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30563/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

78. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on whether there is a capability and security risk with 57.8% of members stating they intended to leave the Permanent Defence Force in the next two years as outlined in the Public Service Pay Commission report on the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30564/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

80. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will respond to the 73.6% of members of the Defence Forces that stated problematic staffing levels as a reason to leave in the Public Service Pay Commission report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30566/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

82. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will respond to the 47.2% of members of the Defence Forces that stated problems limited by their pension date as a reason to leave in the Public Service Pay Commission report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30568/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

83. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will respond to the issue of commuting pressure as outlined in the Public Service Pay Commission report as a driver to leave the Permanent Defence Force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30569/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

84. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will respond to the issue of high burnout as a driver to leave the Permanent Defence Force in the Public Service Pay Commission report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30570/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

89. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the timeline for a review for a supplementary pension scheme as recommended in the Public Service Pay Commission report; when the review will conclude; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30575/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54, 73, 77, 78, 80, 82 to 84, inclusive, and 89 together.

At its meeting held on the 4th July 2019, the Government accepted, in full, the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces. The Government also agreed an extensive implementation plan for the report.

The implementation plan is arranged around three broad themes of valuing members of the PDF, retaining the best people and attracting the best people. The plan, agreed by Government, sets out the actions to be taken and the timelines within which they will be taken, i.e. immediate, short term, medium term and long term. The implementation plan complements a range of actions that are already underway in the Department and the Defence Forces, to enhance recruitment and retention in the PDF.

In addition, the plan sets out an oversight process and my Department is putting in place the civil and military structures to support this.

The report of the Public Service Pay Commission is currently being considered by the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations and there will be further meetings in the coming weeks to clarify any matters arising.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (55)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

55. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if new armoured logistic vehicles were procured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30540/19]

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 so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government both at home and overseas.

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.

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 White Paper on Defence provides that Ireland's ongoing active participation in a range of peacekeeping and crisis management missions is a key policy requirement. While each mission has elements of danger, it is the Government's position that all actions should be taken to minimise threats to the safety of personnel. Armoured vehicles provide essential force protection and, in this context in accordance with the equipment planning process, the fleet of armoured vehicles is subject to regular review to ensure that it meets operational requirements both at home and overseas.

The White Paper identified the procurement of a small number of armoured logistics vehicles for overseas missions as a force protection requirement. A contract valued at some €6m (ex VAT) was awarded to an Irish company, Westward Scania, in 2017 for the provision of 10 new armoured logistic vehicles for the Defence Forces, in order to provide combat service support personnel with the requisite force protection to operate in a supporting role in high threat environments. The vehicles were delivered in 2018 and are in operational service. The procurement of these vehicles also enhances Ireland's ability to participate in integrated multinational deployments.

Further investment in armoured vehicles continues with a multi-year mid-life upgrade programme for the Army’s fleet of eighty MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carriers which is underway, this programme of works 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 for the Defence Forces in 2017.

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

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (56)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

56. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if air combat and intercept capability improvements have been made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30541/19]

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 so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government both at home and overseas.

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.

The Air Corps’ existing Pilatus PC9 aircraft provide a very limited air to air and air to ground intercept capacity. The White Paper provides for the consideration of the development of a more capable air combat/intercept capability as part of the White Paper update. The first White Paper update is nearing completion in my Department and will consider progress made to date and give consideration to any revisions required.

Defence Forces Personnel

Ceisteanna (57)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

57. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the optimal mix of civil servants, civilian and military personnel required to fill roles in the defence organisation has been determined and achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30542/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The White Paper on Defence, published in 2015, resulted from a comprehensive examination of Defence requirements over a ten year planning horizon and set out policy in respect of people capability development for the Defence Organisation.

My Department undertakes a workforce planning process in relation to the determination of civil service staffing requirements to ensure the discharge of the range of functions within the Department.  The employment of Civilian Employees for military installations is provided to meet requirements identified by the military authorities. There are both civil servants and civilian employees providing a range of skills to the Defence Forces which are identified as part of ongoing engagement with the military authorities. 

In terms of military requirements, the White Paper on Defence restated the current structure represents the most effective and efficient structure within the overall strength of at least 9,500 Permanent Defence Force personnel.  Arising from the White Paper a wide range of projects were identified and are being undertaken to address the personnel requirements of the Defence Forces.  Following the recent publication of the Public Services Pay Commission’s report examining recruitment and retention issues in the Defence Forces,  a high level implementation plan has been approved by Government which will further address skills and personnel requirements of the Defence Forces.

 

White Paper on Defence

Ceisteanna (58)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

58. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a gap analysis of skill sets within the Permanent Defence Force has been conducted; the measures taken to address skill set gaps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30543/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The White Paper on Defence (2015) identified the requirement to complete a gap analysis of skill sets within the Permanent Defence Force in order to identify the frequency of such gaps and appropriate measures to address them.  Joint civil-military project planning is currently underway in relation thereto.

The requirement for such an analysis has also been outlined in the recent report of the Public Service Pay Commission and is captured in a High Level Implementation Plan which provides for the recommendations contained in that Report.

 

Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (59)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

59. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when the Defence Forces will reach the goal of 9,500 serving personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30544/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The military authorities have advised that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force (Whole Time Equivalent), at 31 May 2019 was 8,751 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).

There are a number of factors, some of which are hard to predict, which will impact on the timeframe within which this will be achieved. The report of the Public Service Pay Commission contains a broad range of recommendations which are aimed at enhancing recruitment and retention and restoring the strength level of the PDF. A High Level Implementation Plan has been agreed and is being progressed.

 

Defence Forces Reserve Review

Ceisteanna (60, 61)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

60. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel in the Army Reserves and Naval Service Reserves; the personnel numbers the Army and Naval Service reserves are from the target of 4,000 personnel; the status of steps taken to increase the number in the reserves; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30545/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

61. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the retention rate in the Defence Forces Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30546/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 61 together.

As of 31st May 2019 the strength of the Reserve is as follows:

First Line Reserve: 290 personnel

Army Reserve: 1577 personnel

Naval Service Reserve: 124 personnel

I am very much aware that there continues to be a shortfall between the current strength figures and those of the establishment of the AR and NSR, which provides for 4,069 personnel. A key ongoing challenge for the RDF is to recruit personnel. A total of 66 new recruits have been inducted to the RDF to date in 2019. Supports being provided to maximise recruitment to the Reserve include the use of social media and outreach activities by RDF members. PDF recruit exit interviews now contain information on applying for membership of the RDF.

Under the current phase of implementation of White Paper actions, two White Paper projects have been identified which are important precursors to the establishment of a Specialist Reserve. A gap analysis of skills sets in the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) will identify potential roles for Reserve members who possess specialist skills. Options to develop the First Line Reserve are also currently being examined.

The assignment of responsibility of Director of Reserve Defence Forces to the Director of Combat Support and ISTAR has allowed for the provision of guidance, across all units and formations with RDF assets, in developing their capabilities. This is in line with the single force concept and the role of the Reserve as described in the White Paper on Defence. The focus will be to harness RDF skills and talent, maximising its development on the basis of mutual engagement with the PDF. Specific project areas will focus on training, regulation, recruitment, retention and promotions and will be supported through RDF and PDF reciprocal training, mentoring and education.

Departmental Meetings

Ceisteanna (62)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

62. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the structure of the quarterly meetings with the Secretary General of his Department and the Chief of Staff in each quarter since the start of 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30547/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The close working relationship between myself, the Secretary General and the Chief of Staff is a key ingredient to the effective management of all aspects of defence and one upon which I put particular emphasis. In this context, the Secretary General and the Chief of Staff have access to me individually and jointly in the conduct of their respective roles.

In the normal course of the business of the Department of Defence, I meet with the Secretary General and Chief of Staff in a variety of configurations, including trilaterally and, on occasion, by way of formal meetings attended by members of the Department's Management Board and the General Staff. These meetings are convened as necessary to oversee the broad range of security and defence matters having regard to the prioritised programme of work.

Defence Forces Training

Ceisteanna (63)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

63. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of joint civil military cybersecurity training initiatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30548/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Defence Forces CIS Corps personnel participate in a range of training and education courses with recognised academic institutions. The CIS Corps personnel also participate in a number of military and civilian cyber exercises with approved partners.

From an operational and security perspective it would be inappropriate to comment further on the cyber and network security capabilities of the Defence Forces other than to say that there is on-going and continued development of these capabilities within the Defence Forces.

Defence Forces Expenditure

Ceisteanna (64)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

64. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a review of the CRE has been completed; if so, the information the review provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30550/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The last Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) was undertaken in 2014 and covered the period 2015 - 2017. A new approach to reviewing Government expenditure was announced in 2017 in advance of Budget 2018, Minister Donohoe at the time stated "This year’s spending review will examine a significant portion of the expenditure base for each department, with the remaining current expenditure to be examined over a three-year horizon". The intention of the spending reviews was to have a series of selective reviews that would cover the totality of day to day Government expenditure over a three year period.

The first spending review for the Department of Defence was carried out by staff in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and covered the Defence Vote Group. The second report was carried out by staff from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and staff from the Department of Defence Finance Branch and covers Defence Forces pension expenditure. The third report in the series of three is currently underway with staff from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and our Civil Defence Branch and is covering Civil Defence.

The White Paper on Defence sets out the Government's defence policy framework out to 2025.