Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Ceisteanna (66)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

66. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the assertion that the Army Reserve, by reason of legislation and structural organisation, is largely prevented from enabling the meaningful application of reservists’ skills in technological innovation or in an area of specialisation beneficial to the wider Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52903/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Government appreciates the service of the members of the RDF and recognises the important role that the three elements of the RDF play in contributing to Ireland's defence capability. The White Paper on Defence is clear that there is a continued requirement to retain and develop the RDF and it is currently on a development path arising from the recommendations of the White Paper.

The White Paper sets out a blueprint for the development of the RDF and that the primary role is to support the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) in crisis situations. In non-crisis situations the main focus will be in training for this role. The White Paper states that the types of tasks that the RDF could be required to undertake in crisis situations is varied.

The principal legislation underpinning deployment of the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) is the Defence Act 1954. This legislation provides for, among other things, the call out of members of the RDF on permanent service during periods of emergency and the call out of members of the RDF in Aid to the Civil Power. The White Paper on Defence provides for a review of this legislation to identify proposals for any changes in the Defence Acts that may be required in order to reflect the possible crisis situations, where activation of members of the RDF is appropriate. This work has not commenced as yet as other tasks have been prioritised.

The White Paper also acknowledges that there may be professional skills that on occasion may not be readily available in the PDF. In this context, there may be individual members of the RDF, who by virtue of their professional civilian qualifications or in the case of members of the FLR, professional military skills, have the competence to undertake such specialised tasks. These could include ICT, medical, ordnance and engineering professionals. The White Paper provides for the establishment of a panel of such individuals to be established, to be known as the Specialist Reserve.

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 Skills survey of the RDF was conducted in 2015/16. The survey highlighted the existence of a substantial body of skills and qualifications in areas such as science, computing, engineering and medicine which have a direct relevance to the Defence Forces. A gap analysis of skills sets in the PDF will identify potential roles for those Reserve members who possess specialist skills and this is linked to an ongoing Workforce Planning project.

The ultimate intention is to utilise those Reservists who have specialist skills for which gaps exist in the PDF, and whose personal circumstances allow them to do so, to undertake required tasks in the Defence Forces, including on overseas missions. Options to underpin the engagement of such Reservists will be identified as the various stages of this work unfold.

Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 61.