Civil Service Staff Data

Ceisteanna (39, 40)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

39. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach the number of civil servants that have left and-or retired from his Department in the past ten years who were bound by a cooling-off period in respect of taking up new employment in the private sector by grade, year and sector the staff moved on to. [38219/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

40. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach the number of civil servants that have left and-or retired from his Department in the past ten years who were not bound by a cooling-off period in respect of taking up new employment in the private sector by grade, year and sector the staff moved on to; and the reason for same. [38220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

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

The Regulation of Lobbying Act was enacted in 2015. Section 22 of the Act provides that specific categories of Designated Public Officials (“DPOs”) are subject to a one-year “cooling-off” period, during which they cannot engage in lobbying activities in specific circumstances, or be employed by, or provide services to, a person carrying on lobbying activities in specific circumstances.

The relevant DPOs for whom a “cooling-off” period applies are Ministers of the Government and Ministers of State, Special Advisers appointed under section 11 of the Public Services Management Act 1997 and public servants prescribed as a DPO by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform under section 6(2) of the Regulation of Lobbying Act. A list of the current DPOs in my Department is maintained on www.gov.ie/taoiseach.

The cooling-off period is a statutory requirement and applies for the full one-year term unless the relevant DPO applies to the Standards in Public Office Commission for consent to waive or reduce their cooling-off period. It is the responsibility of the relevant DPO to seek consent prior to taking up an offer of employment (or to provide services). Statistics on the number of applications for consent under section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 are included in the annual Regulation of Lobbying report published by the Standards in Public Office Commission.

In addition civil servants are bound by their obligations under the Official Secrets Act 1963 and are also required to adhere to the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour, published by the Standards in Public Office Commission.

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (41)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

41. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Taoiseach the number of workers employed by his Department and in each office or agency under the aegis of his Department who earn less than the living wage of €12.30 per hour. [38238/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The suggested wage at €12.30 per hour based on the Civil Service 37 hour standard net working week equates to an annual salary of €23,747. Public servants currently on an annual salary of less than €23,747 may be receiving remuneration in excess of the suggested living wage through additional premium payments in respect of shift or atypical working hours or are on salary scales that progress to the suggested living wage and above through incremental progression.

Following the application of pay adjustments with effect from 1 September 2019 as provided for in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, there are 2 employees of my Department whose annual basic salary is currently less than the suggested living wage of €12.30 per hour.

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) - the only body under my Department's aegis, has no employees earning less than the suggested rate.

British-Irish Council

Ceisteanna (42)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

42. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the date on which he will host the next British-Irish Council summit. [38510/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I will host the next British Irish Council summit meeting in Dublin in November. The date for the Summit has not yet been announced but will be issued in due course.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Ceisteanna (43, 44)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

43. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with Mrs. Arlene Foster of the DUP and the topics discussed relating to Brexit and the Northern Ireland Assembly. [38841/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

44. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which he responded to Mrs. Arlene Foster regarding her comments on the constitutional position of unionism when they met to discuss Brexit on 18 September 2019. [38843/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 44 together.

I met with Ms Arlene Foster MLA, Leader of the DUP, in Government Buildings on Wednesday, 18 September. We discussed issues relating to Brexit and ongoing efforts between the two Governments to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive. We agreed to stay in touch on these important issues.

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (45)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

45. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of workers employed by his Department and in each office or agency under the aegis of his Department who earn less than the living wage of €12.30 per hour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38239/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My Department employs civil servants and also, civilian employees attached to military installations. The Army Pensions Board is an independent statutory body established under the Army Pensions Act, 1927 whose secretariat is provided from within my Department's staff. Of the civil servants and civilian employees employed by my Department, 65 earn less than €12.30 per hour.

Naval Service Equipment

Ceisteanna (46)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

46. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if funding has been provided in 2019 for the upgrade of the fire detection and firefighting system at the Oil Wharf naval base in Haulbowline; if so, when work will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38778/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In 2018, some €2.4m was allocated for the upgrade of the fire detection and firefighting system at the Oil Wharf, Naval Base in Haulbowline. Following a competitive tendering process, Foyles Engineering Ltd was appointed and works commenced on site in May 2018. It is expected that the works will be completed by end 2019.

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 annual training is made available to members of the Reserve Defence Force; the number participating; the number that have participated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38900/19]

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.

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.

As of 31 August 2019, the effective strength of the RDF is 1698.

Overseas Missions Data

Ceisteanna (48)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

48. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number and proposed location for the expected deployment of Irish troops in overseas enmeshments over the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38901/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As of 4th September 2019, Ireland is contributing 678 personnel to 9 different missions throughout the world and also to a range of international organisations and National representations.

The main overseas missions in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed is the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 461 personnel and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria with 132 personnel. The UNIFIL mission in Lebanon continues to represent Ireland's largest overseas deployment.

Ireland deployed an additional contingent of approximately 106 Defence Force personnel to the UNIFIL mission following the departure of the Finnish/Estonian contingent. This additional 12 month commitment has continued throughout 2019 to date as Ireland assumed full duties and responsibilities of IRISHBATT up to November 2019.

Plans are now in place for Poland to partner Ireland in UNIFIL from November 2019. It is proposed that Hungarian personnel would also deploy as part of the Polish contingent.

With regard to the deployment of Defence personnel to new military operations overseas, Government and Dáil approval was received in June of this year for the deployment of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Forces to participate in MINUSMA, the United Nations authorised operation in Mali. MINUSMA was established under UN Security Council Resolution 2100 of April 2013. The mission is tasked primarily with providing support to transitional governmental authorities in Mali, in efforts to stabilise the country.

Two officers deployed on the 7th September to Bamako where the MINUSMA Force Headquarters is located and an additional 11 personnel drawn from the Army Ranger Wing deployed with the German Armed Forces to Camp Castor in GAO, Mali on 12th September 2019.

All deployed personnel are currently embedding with the larger Germany company and are carrying out assigned tasks in accordance with the mission mandate.

The Department of Defence constantly reviews the deployment of Defence Forces Personnel overseas. Ireland receives requests, from time to time, in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Ireland has always been a strong supported of the United Nations and UN Peacekeeping. Our commitment and support for the primary role of the United Nations, in the maintenance of international peace and security, is expressed in Ireland's long-standing tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations. This commitment is also expressed in our engagement in the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

Full details of all personnel currently serving overseas are shown in the tabular statement beneath.

MEMBERS OF THE PERMANENT DEFENCE FORCE SERVING OVERSEAS

As of 4 th September 2019

UN MISSIONS

UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) HQUNIFIL 113th Infantry BattalionUNIFIL Sector West HQ

94448

UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation) Israel & Syria

12

MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara)

3

MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic of the Congo)

3

UNDOF (COS Staff/FHQ Staff - Camp Faouar - Bravo side)UNDOF 58th Infantry Group (Camp Faouar - Bravo side)

6126

TOTAL

611

UN MANDATED MISSIONS

EUFOR (EU-led Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)

5

EUTM Mali (EU-led Training Mission)

20

KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) HQ

12

Naval Service EU Mission (Op Sophia HQ)

3

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH UN MISSIONS

651

ORGANISATION FOR SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE (OSCE)

Staff Officer, High Level Planning Group, Vienna

1

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH OSCE

1

EU MILITARY STAFF

Brussels

6

EU BATTLE GROUP

German Led Battle Group 202-2, FHQ, Stadtallendorf

10

MILITARY REPRESENTATIVES/ADVISERS/STAFF

Military Adviser, Permanent Mission to UN, New York

1

Military Adviser, Irish Delegation to OSCE, Vienna

1

Military Representative to EU (Brussels)

4

Liaison Officer of Ireland, NATO/PfP (Brussels)

3

EU OHQ Operation Althea, Mons, Belgium

1

TOTAL NUMBER OF DEFENCE FORCES PERSONNEL SERVING OVERSEAS

678

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Ceisteanna (49, 50, 51)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

49. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel in the Air Corps that have resigned or retired on full service in each of the past three years to date; the number of replacements through recruitment throughout this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38902/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

50. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel in the Army that have resigned or retired on full service in each of the past three years to date; the number of replacements through recruitment throughout this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38903/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

51. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel in the Naval Service that have resigned or retired on full service in each of the past three years to date; the number of replacements through recruitment throughout this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38904/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 to 51, inclusive, together.

Discharges from the Defence Forces are recorded under a number of headings without a specific definition of retirement which can be either voluntary or involuntary. The table below shows the number of discharges in each of the past three years and as of 31st August in 2019:

BRANCH

2016

2017

2018

2019

Army

529

586

525

415

Air Corps

47

59

59

49

Naval Service

103

97

147

94

Total

679

742

731

558

The table below shows the number of inductions that took place in each of the past three years and as of 31st August in 2019:

BRANCH

2016

2017

2018

2019**

Army

574

630

484

186

Air Corps

12

31

26

0

Naval Service

104

90

101

77

Total

690

751

611*

263

* This figure does not include 15 PDF personnel awarded a Cadetship

** While inductions take place at various stages throughout the year, there is normally an accelerated intake of personnel in the last quarter.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (52)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

52. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which he continues to ensure that Irish military personnel serving overseas on EU or UN deployments are equipped to the highest international standards in terms of communication and military hardware; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38905/19]

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, including overseas deployments.

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 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.

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 the fourth, the LÉ George Bernard Shaw, delivered in late 2018. In addition, planning is ongoing for the replacement of the current Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi role vessel.

With regard to Defence Forces communications systems, there is continued investment in the development of suitable network enabled communications in order to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex operational environment.

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 was 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, including vehicles and communication systems, which is in line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

Ceisteanna (53)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

53. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of women serving in each branch of the Defence Forces; the number that have resigned and-or retired; the extent to which they have been replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38906/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out below:

Substantive strength of females in the Defence Forces as at 31 Aug 2019 -

Officers

NCOs

PTEs

Cadets

TOTAL

Army

120

163

196

9

488

Air Corps

11

15

5

1

32

Naval Service

23

13

28

2

66

TOTAL

154

191

229

12

586

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.

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.

Over the course of the White Paper on Defence 2015, which provides the current defence policy agenda over a ten year planning horizon, 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.

Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (54)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

54. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the average membership of the Defences Forces in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; the extent to which it has been maintained or fluctuated in the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38907/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The table below details the year end strength for the Permanent Defence Force during that period 2014 to 2018.

Year

Strength at year end

2018

8,957

2017

9,173

2016

9,126

2015

9,140

2014

9,280

I am very much aware that there continues to be a shortfall between the current strength figures and those of the establishment I remain committed to maximising recruitment capacity and introducing measures to return to, and maintain, the agreed strength of 9,500.

The recent report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces made a series of recommendations with a view to addressing the current recruitment and retention issues and these are being progressed through a detailed implementation plan. This work is being prioritised.

Air Corps Equipment

Ceisteanna (55)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

55. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the training and working aircraft readily available to the Air Corps; the availability of upgrades if required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38908/19]

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, including the Air Corps, is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable them to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The Air Corps operate a fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft which provide military support to the Army and Naval Service, together with support for non-military air services such as Garda air support, air ambulance, fisheries protection and the Ministerial Air Transport Service.

Priorities for the Defence Forces, including the Air Corps, are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development, infrastructure and equipment planning processes. The principal aim over the period of the White Paper is 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.

Work is well advanced in relation to updating the Air Corps' fleet of aircraft with the replacement of the current Air Corps Cessna fleet with three larger aircraft which will be equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) as provided for in the White Paper. Following an open tender competition, a contract was placed with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd in December 2017 for the provision of three PC-12 fixed wing utility aircraft suitably equipped for ISTAR tasks which will replace the Cessna fleet. The contract is well underway and it is expected that the three aircraft will be delivered by 2020.

The White Paper also provides for the replacement of the two CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft with consideration of their replacement with larger more capable aircraft, which would enhance maritime surveillance and provide a greater degree of utility for transport and cargo carrying tasks. A public tender competition for the replacement of the CASA Maritime Patrol Aircraft is underway in my Department at present and it is expected to be completed shortly.

The existing fleet of eight (8) Pilatus PC9 training aircraft is not due for replacement until 2025. The current fleet of two (2) EC 135 and six (6) AW 139 helicopters will continue to deliver the required Defence Forces support and other support capabilities over the lifetime of the White Paper. The Air Corps also operates one (1) Lear LR45 aircraft which is used primarily in the provision of the Ministerial Air Transport Service.

In addition to the training and operational aircraft outlined above, the Air Corps operates one (1) Britten Norman Defender fixed wing aircraft and two (2) EC135 helicopters for An Garda Síochána.

In order to ensure their operational capability, all Air Corps aircraft must undergo regular maintenance and scheduled overhauls to ensure they are fully airworthy and meet the certification standards laid down for the aviation industry.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (56)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

56. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the Naval Service and Air Corps have sufficient resources and equipment available to them to meet surveillance or other action missions along the Irish coast in the aftermath of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38909/19]

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.

The allocation of over €1 billion for the Defence Sector for 2019 emphasises the importance attached by the Government to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the resources necessary to deliver on all roles assigned by Government, both at home and overseas.

In terms of 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, infrastructure and equipment planning processes. The principal aim over the period of the White Paper is 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.

Significant work is well advanced in relation to updating the Air Corps' fleet of aircraft with the replacement of the existing Cessna fleet with three larger, 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 delivery of these new aircraft will commence in 2020. Planning is also well advanced to replace the CASA Maritime Patrol aircraft and a tender competition is currently close to finalisation in this regard.

The on-going Naval Service ship replacement programme is evidence of the Government's commitment to investment in the Naval Service. Four new Offshore Patrol Vessels were delivered between 2014 and 2018. In addition, planning is now underway for the replacement of the current Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a new Multi Role Vessel.

In terms of personnel, between 2016 and 2018 over 2,000 personnel were inducted into the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) while, in February 2019, the largest ever cadet class in the history of the State was commissioned. Nevertheless, I recognise that reaching a full strength of 1,094 Naval Service personnel and a full strength of 886 Air Corps personnel is a key challenge for the Defence Forces at present but I am committed to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the means to continue to carry out the roles assigned by Government. In this regard, a range of alternative recruitment approaches are being taken including the fact that the competition for General Service Recruits now remains open throughout the year to maximise the Defence Forces' training capacity and to give applicants more opportunities to apply.

As I have previously outlined, the UK decision to exit from the EU does not of itself give rise to greater responsibilities for the Defence Forces. However, prudent planning in relation to all situations that may require a Defence Forces response, including by the Naval Service and the Air Corps, is undertaken by the Defence Forces in the normal course. Furthermore, my Department continues to monitor the ongoing situation to ensure that both it and the Defence Forces are fully prepared to address any potential issues that might arise in the defence area as a consequence of Brexit.

Brexit Negotiations

Ceisteanna (57)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

57. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the EU ministers discussed extending the longer period of transition by consent instead of a hard Brexit on 31 October 2019. [38266/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, the transition period runs to December 2020. It can be extended once, by mutual agreement of the EU and the UK, for up to two years. The decision to extend must be decided by the Joint Committee, established under the Withdrawal Agreement, before 1 July 2020.

As the transition period is provided for under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, it will not apply in the case of a no deal Brexit. In this context, such an extension has not been discussed by Ministers.

Brexit Negotiations

Ceisteanna (58)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

58. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if there have been written proposals circulated from Prime Minister Johnson in relation to alternatives to a disorderly Brexit. [38267/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Contacts between the UK and Commission Taskforce are continuing. Michel Barnier met Steve Barclay in Brussels on 20 September where they had a discussion on the state of play of the ongoing Brexit talks, both in relation to the backstop to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship. Following the meeting the Commission reiterated their position that it is essential that there is a fully workable and legally operational solution included in the Withdrawal Agreement and that the EU remain willing and open to examine any such proposals that meet all the objectives of the backstop.

The UK side submitted a series of documents to the Commission Task Force on 18 September, characterised as confidential technical 'non-papers' they do not constitute formal proposals as such. Technical work on the basis of the documents will continue next week.