66. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the website of his Department is managed and coordinated. [53349/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
Written Answers Nos. 66-85
66. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the website of his Department is managed and coordinated. [53349/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
My Department’s website www.gov.ie/taoiseach is managed by the staff of the Government Information Service. The Content published includes public information notices, consultation papers, information about my Department, and current speeches and press releases from the Government. The website also contains content informing citizens and different sectoral groups about Brexit. The MerrionStreet.ie website is populated with Press Releases and Speeches that issue from Government Departments.
67. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the role of his officials in Project Ireland 2040. [53350/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
Project Ireland 2040 provides the overarching policy and planning framework for the social, economic and cultural development of our country. It includes a detailed capital investment plan for the period 2018 to 2027 - the €116bn National Development Plan 2018-2027, and the 20-year National Planning Framework 2040.
My Department is represented on the Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board which oversees the implementation of Project Ireland 2040 and which is jointly chaired by the Secretaries General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
Officials from my Department also support and participate in the delivery of Project Ireland 2040 through the work of the Senior Officials Group on Infrastructure, the Project Ireland 2040 Co-Ordination Group and the Construction Sector Group.
In July this year, the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure was established to cover issues relating to Infrastructure, Project Ireland 2040 and Rebuilding Ireland. This Cabinet Committee has met three times since its establishment, most recently on Monday 16 December.
68. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Taoiseach the number of new staff recruited to his Department from January 2019 to date; and the title of each employment position. [53650/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
The information requested by the Deputy regarding new staff recruited in my Department from January 2019 to date is outlined in the following table.
My Department uses workforce planning and succession planning to ensure that there are sufficient staffing resources in place to deliver the Department's strategic goals. Staff are recruited to fill vacancies which arise on an ongoing basis due to staff retirements, promotions and staff availing of mobility opportunities and career breaks.
Staff requirements also arise as a result of additional responsibilities being assigned to my Department. Recent examples include additional responsibilities relating to Brexit, climate action, national security, policing reform, and Citizens' Assembly.
In the main, staff are recruited to my Department through the Public Appointments Service (PAS) by way of competition and also by way of secondment from other Government Departments.
Vacancies are also filled by way of mobility through the Civil Service Mobility Scheme, or by promotion.
Assistant Principal/Assistant Principal equivalent
Higher Executive Officer
*Table excludes politically appointed staff.
** Staff numbers reflect headcount rather than whole time equivalent.
69. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach the amount spent on advertising in 2018 and to date in 2019 on Brexit. [53751/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
Comprehensive communications have been central to the work across Government to ensure that Ireland is as prepared as possible for the UK exiting the EU, whatever shape it takes. This includes the Government-wide Getting Ireland Brexit Readypublic information and outreach campaign which was launched in September 2018.
In advance of the March, April and October Brexit deadlines, my Department working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other Departments and Agencies delivered a nationwide information and preparedness campaign. This included a combination of advertising using national and local print, radio, tv, and social media, the printing and distribution of information leaflets for citizens, and the Practical Steps booklet for businesses. The advertising costs for these campaigns have been allocated from the budgets of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the case of the national campaign and from the lead Department/Agency in relation to targeted campaigns. My Department’s spend on Brexit advertising in 2018 and 2019 is nil.
70. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach if the personal injuries payouts will be published for properties under the ownership of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [53799/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
No property is owned either by my Department or the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), which is the only agency under the aegis of my Department. The properties occupied by my Department and the National Economic and Social Development Office are provided and managed by the Office of Public Works. No payments for personal injuries on these premises were made during the years 2016 to 2018 and no payments to date in 2019.
71. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the current or expected obligations in the aftermath of Brexit in respect of defence and security; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53436/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
As noted on previous occasions, the outcome of the vote of 23 June 2016 in the UK will have implications across all aspects of the business of the European Union, including in the area of defence. While the vote does not give rise to fundamental strategic issues for Defence Forces operations or for Ireland’s continuing engagement with the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), it is expected that Brexit will be a factor in future developments in the Defence sphere within the EU.
Notwithstanding Brexit, the UK will remain a significant security and defence actor in Europe with the potential to contribute to the EU’s comprehensive approach to crisis management operations across both the civil and military domains. The nature of that potential contribution to EU CSDP missions and operations and to initiatives such as PESCO, are being considered within the EU institutions and with the UK.
Within the EU, it is accepted that Defence is a national competence and that any decisions, including any deepening of EU cooperation, require unanimity. Through our participation in initiatives like PESCO and the Coordinated Annual Review of Defence, Ireland continues to have a strong and equal voice on defence issues within the EU institutions and to meet any commitments agreed as part of our participation in such initiatives.
In relation to security matters, as the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for on-island security in Ireland rests with An Garda Síochána, while the Revenue Commissioners also have responsibilities relating to their particular mandate.
72. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the Defence Forces have been replenished in terms of numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53438/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
The military authorities have advised that, as at 30th November 2019, 605 personnel were inducted into the Defence Forces and 10 serving soldiers were awarded a cadetship.
They have further advised that, on that date, the strength of the Permanent Defence Force (whole time equivalent), across all services was 8,751 personnel.
I am very much aware that there continues to be a shortfall between the current strength figures and those of the establishment and I remain committed to restoring the strength of the Defence Forces to 9,500.
73. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when the updating of equipment for the Defence Forces likely to arise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53439/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
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 and updating 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. To date almost half of the fleet have been upgraded with the remainder due by early 2022. Additionally, twenty-four 4 x 4 Armoured Utility Vehicles (AUVs) were acquired in 2017, and in 2018 delivery was taken of ten new armoured logistic vehicles. These measures will provide essential force protection overseas. A capability requirement for additional AUVs has been identified. Additional funding has been allocated for this project and a procurement process is expected to begin in early 2020.
There is also continuous investment in the non-armoured vehicle fleet. In 2019 a contract was signed with Toyota Ireland for the replacement of the Army's fleet of 3/4 tonne 4 X4 vehicles, the first of which are expected to enter service in early 2020. A tender process is underway also for the supply of new 4 X 4 Troop Carrying Vehicles. It is expected that a contract will be awarded in 2020. 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. In addition, planning is also in progress to replace the CASA Maritime Patrol aircraft and a tender competition has recently concluded in this regard, with the award of a contract to Airbus Defence and Space for the provision of two new C-295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft for the Air Corps. The new aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2023.
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. The Mid-Life Extension Programme of LÉ Róisín commenced in March 2019, with an initial dry-docking phase, followed by an extended period of equipment upgrade and refit works. LÉ Niamh’s extension programme is due to commence in 2020. 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 €113 million for 2020, an increase of €7 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.
74. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the Defence Forces remain ready, available and equipped for emergencies that may arise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53440/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
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 (ATCA) 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.
In respect of terrorism, responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána. In that regard, among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence (2015) is the provision of ATCP which, in practice, means to provide assistance and support to An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. There is on-going and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters, including ATCP deployments and a wide variety of military training activities are specifically designed to counter or respond to possible security emergencies. Regular coordination and liaison meetings also take place between the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána in relation to ATCP issues. The Defence Forces also participate in counter-terrorism training initiatives with international forces on an on-going basis.
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. 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.
With regard to training, the primary function of training and education in the Defence Forces is to develop and maintain the necessary capabilities. The Defence Forces deliver military training programmes and modules meeting national and international standards. They also engage with external educational institutions in order to facilitate organisational learning. This engagement with national and international educational institutions, military and civilian, aims to ensure that the Defence Forces retain currency with regards to best international practice and employ all relevant modern training methods.
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 and emergencies 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.
75. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of women in senior positions in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53441/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
76. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which pay and conditions in the Defence Forces have been resolved to satisfaction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53443/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
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. Improvements within the economy have provided an opportunity for the unwinding of the FEMPI legislation which imposed pay cuts across the Public Service.
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 increases due to date under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, have been paid to members of the Defence Forces, the most recent being a 1.75% increase on annualised salaries from the 1 September 2019. On 1 January 2020 annualised salaries up to €32,000 will increase by 0.5% and on 1 October 2020 annualised salaries will increase by 2%.
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 in the agreement.
The Report of the Public Service Pay Commission on Recruitment and Retention in the Defence Forces was accepted by Government on 4 July 2019. The Report contains a broad range of recommendations which include:
- a 10% increase in Military Service Allowance,
- the restoration to pre-Haddington Road Agreement levels of certain specific Defence Forces allowances,
- the return of an incentive scheme to address pilot retention issues in the Air Corps.
The increase in Military Service Allowance and the restoration of the rates of the other allowances, as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission, have been paid and are in addition to measures relating to core pay which are in the current Public Service Stability Agreement.
In accepting the report of the Public Service Pay Commission, the Government also approved a plan Strengthening Our Defence Forces – Phase 1, to implement the recommendations in the report. The Plan provides for further measures in the short, medium and longer term.
As the actions being progressed have a range of timeframes, the full impact of the proposals will take time to determine. The capacity of the Defence Forces to undertake the tasks assigned by Government will continue to be carefully monitored having regard to the implementation of the full recommendations of the Pay Commission and other actions which are underway.
77. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if an evaluation has been carried out in respect of potential weakness in the Defence Forces with a view to addressing the issues in the short to medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53445/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
The White Paper on Defence, approved by Government in July 2015, resulted from a comprehensive examination of Defence requirements. It provides the defence policy framework for the period up to 2025. This policy framework is designed to be flexible and responsive given the dynamic nature of the security environment and enables the Defence Organisation to be adaptive to changing circumstances and to use resources as efficiently as possible.
Within this context, the White Paper contains the Government's decision to put in place a fixed cycle of defence reviews. The first such review, the White Paper on Defence - Update 2019, has now been completed, was approved by Government last week and has now been published on my Department's website. While the Update acknowledges that there are challenges in certain areas, it affirms the fundamentals of our approach to defence policy that were settled when the White Paper was approved in 2015.
As such, I am committed to ensuring that the Defence Forces continue to have the means to carry out all of the roles assigned by Government. 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.
The allocation of over €1 billion for the Defence Sector for 2020, an increase of €32.3m on 2019, emphasises the importance attached by the Government to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the resources necessary to deliver on all roles assigned, both at home and overseas. The White Paper Update refers to the multi-annual capital programme, launched as Project Ireland 2040, which has increased the overall level of investment in Defence and provides for €541m. in capital funding over the period to 2022.
In terms of personnel, the Defence Forces retain a wide range of specialist skills and equipment. The full spectrum of personnel and equipment are available for deployment in response to any emergencies that may arise. Between 2016 and 2018 over 2,000 personnel were inducted into the Permanent Defence Force while, in February 2019, the largest ever cadet class in the history of the State was commissioned. Nevertheless, as recognised in the White Paper Update, reaching a strength level of 9,500 personnel is a key challenge that this will require unrelenting attention into the foreseeable future.
Regarding equipment, the Update refers to the range of new equipment already delivered or in immediate prospect, including new Armoured Logistics and Utility Vehicles, upgraded Armoured Personnel Carriers, Naval Service Ship replacement and renewal, and acquisition of new Fixed-Wing Utility and also Maritime Patrol aircraft for the Air Corps.
In relation to infrastructure, there have been very important modernisation projects completed in the last few years and many are ongoing, all contributing to capability. However, as noted in the White Paper Update, there is continuing potential for additional investment in military facilities and, with this in mind, a focussed five year infrastructure programme will be launched in January 2020. This will provide the means to channel available funds to where these will have the strongest impact, while acknowledging the potential for additional investment.
The Update was undertaken while Brexit has continued to evolve. The Update notes that the precise security implications of Brexit remain hard to predict, albeit that the overall setting in which security resides may be adversely impacted. It is not clear, at this point, that any particular implications call for a defence response beyond what is committed in the White Paper. Prudent planning remains the essential relevant focus against the backdrop of the current position on Brexit, and the responsibility, in the first instance, of the Department of Justice and Equality, along with An Garda Síochána, for internal security matters and the Revenue Commissioners for customs issues.
Overall, I am pleased with the outcome of the White Paper Update and I am satisfied that the Defence Forces will continue to fulfil all roles assigned by Government.
78. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a psychiatrist has been appointed to the Defence Forces to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53504/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
Following previous unsuccessful attempts in 2018 to recruit a direct-entrant military psychiatrist and locum psychiatrist for the Defence Forces, sanction was sought from, and granted by, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to conduct a competition for a contracted civilian consultant psychiatrist. The pay rates applicable are equivalent to those available in the HSE.
The Public Appointments Service recently conducted the competition. The closing date for applications was 26 September 2019. Interviews were held on 6 December 2019 and a candidate has been selected. A clearance procedure is now underway in conjunction with other factors such as the notice period of the successful candidate. The Department will endeavour to finalise the process as expeditiously as possible.
79. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the precautions taken to ensure that the former LÉ Aisling was not sold to organisations that would be in contravention of UN arms embargoes; his views on a newspaper report on same (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53591/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
The former Naval Service vessel LÉ Aisling has been the subject of a report by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya that the decommissioned vessel which was sold by way of public auction on 23 March 2017 was subsequently disposed of to a Libyan military commander, Khalifa Haftar, represents a breach of a UN arms embargo by a company in the United Arab Emirates.
Naval Service vessels are withdrawn from service when they have come to end of their useful life, which in the normal course is expected to be around 20 - 25 years. The decommissioned vessel LÉ Aisling was withdrawn from service in 2016 after being in service since 1980 having well exceeded her notional life expectancy. In engineering terms, the equipment onboard was obsolete and the reliability and capability of the ship was impacted. In order for the Naval Service to carry out its roles as assigned by Government the fleet must be capable, reliable and safe to operate in the often hostile North Atlantic where sea conditions during prolonged winter storms are not exceeded anywhere in the world.
Following her decommissioning in 2016, I made the decision to sell the former LÉ Aisling by way of public auction to the highest bidder to maximise the return to the Exchequer. This is in keeping with the Department's standing policy for the disposal of surplus defensive equipment. This approach is also in accordance with the Comptroller and Auditor General’s 2015 Report which provides that “a competitive sales process or auction should normally be used for the disposal of State assets with a significant market value. Such a process helps to ensure transparency and is more likely to achieve the fair market price.”
All weaponry systems, defensive equipment and specialist Naval equipment were removed in their entirety from the decommissioned vessel prior to the sale. The main weapon consisted of the L70 Bofors 40mm crew served cannon which was complemented by two 20mm auto cannons. All of these were directly attached to the deck and were removed in their entirety from the vessel. In accordance with Maritime law this means that the ship was no longer classified as a warship. There were no armaments or offensive military capability on board this vessel to sell or to export.
The sale of the decommissioned vessel was by way of a public auction, it was fully transparent and was open to all interested parties. The vessel was sold on an "as seen" basis to a Dutch shipbroker in March 2017, and was removed from the Naval Base in Haulbowline and towed to Holland by the purchaser.
Once the decommissioned vessel was sold to the Dutch buyer, my Department ceased to have any trailing obligations in relation to the vessel and had no role or responsibility with regard to the future use of the vessel or the future supply chain for this vessel. The resale of the decommissioned vessel was a matter for the Dutch buyer and any subsequent resale onwards and compliance with UN arms embargoes was a matter for other State authorities.
80. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of new staff recruited to his Department from January 2019 to date; the title of each employment position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53640/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
To date in 2019, my Department has recruited 40 civil servants through a combination of the Public Appointment Service, Civil Service Mobility and secondment from other areas of the public service. These staff were recruited primarily to replace staff who left my Department through retirement, resignation, promotion or secondment to another area of the public sector. The staff recruited were at the civil service grades of Assistant Principal, Higher Executive Officer, Executive Officer, Clerical Officer (both permanent and temporary) and Services Officer.
81. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the amount spent on advertising in 2018 and to date in 2019 on Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53741/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
My Department did not incur any advertising expenditure in relation to Brexit for the period in question.
82. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the personal injuries pay-outs will be published for properties under the ownership of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [53789/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
The State Claims Agency (SCA) manages personal injury claims on behalf of the Minister for Defence. In respect of personal injuries, details of the number of claims and associated costs are set out in the Department’s Annual Reports which can be accessed at www.defence.ie. Note that the Annual Report for 2019 will be published in 2020.
With regard to a specific breakdown of injuries incurred at properties under the ownership of the Minister for Defence, the Department does not collate information in that format. The Department has contacted the SCA in order to ascertain if this detail can be accessed and I will revert to the Deputy in due course when a response has been received.
83. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the capital expenditure by his Department in County Louth and east County Meath by location and facility provided or commenced in each of the past four years; the location and purpose of each such expenditure; the new and improved services provided as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53841/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
Expenditure by my Department is mainly on pay and allowances, operational costs and capital investment across the Defence Forces. Capital expenditure on projects in Counties Meath and Louth by my Department, in the period in question, was limited to expenditure on the maintenance and upgrade of military installations.
The capital expenditure on projects in County Meath and County Louth, in respect of maintenance and upgrade of military installations for the years 2015 to 2018, was as follows:
Aiken Bks, Dundalk
84. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of progress of the White Paper on Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53876/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
The White Paper on Defence sets the defence policy agenda over a ten year planning horizon and covers all aspects of defence within overall security policy. The White Paper on Defence – Update 2019, which I published last week following Government approval, is the first in a new fixed cycle of defence reviews which the Government decided to introduce when it approved the White Paper in 2015. The Update follows the approach set out in the White Paper. It provides that these reviews are to consider progress made since 2015 and any revisions required. Further, these reviews are to encompass a fully updated assessment of the security environment with a fresh consideration of implications for overall policy requirements, associated tasks, capability development and resourcing.
As part of this, the Update includes a comprehensive review of overall progress with White Paper implementation. Since publication of the White Paper, a total of 95 separate projects have been identified for completion over a ten-year period. Included in the Update is a full breakdown of the current status of all projects and actions as well as a full report, on a chapter by chapter basis, of the outcome of the review of implementation. (The Update is available to download on my Department’s website.)
Implementation of all actions and projects is being carried out by civil-military teams on a phased basis over a ten-year period out to 2025 and is receiving continuous joint civil/military oversight of progress. All of the actions or projects are being implemented in addition to the substantial body of work conducted by the civil and military elements of the Department of Defence on a daily basis.
To provide flexibility, projects may be sub-divided or merged, changing the top-line number. Currently, the number to be implemented stands at 95, with this number subject to further change as the process evolves. 42 of these projects have been initiated with 15 closed and others due to close shortly. The White Paper Update and the Government’s High Level Plan to implement the Report of the Public Service Pay Commission will result in reprioritisation of certain projects.
Implementation on a phased basis is necessary in order to reflect Programme for a Partnership Government and Strategy Statement commitments, the related nature of some projects and resourcing implications.
While it is currently intended to have all projects initiated or completed by the end of the ten year implementation programme, work in certain areas will continue beyond 2025 in order to ensure that changes, improvements and actions envisaged in the White Paper are sustained and that the positive outcomes endure and are embedded in the day to day business of the Defence Organisation.
85. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the implications for working schedules in the Defence Forces based on recent decisions regarding breaches of the working time directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53877/19]Amharc ar fhreagra
The Working Time Directive has been transposed into national legislation by way of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 and the Defence Forces are currently excluded from the provisions the Act. The Government has however committed to amending this Act and bringing the Defence Forces and An Gárda Síochana within the scope of its provisions.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is the lead Department for this legislative process and the Department of Defence is working closely with that Department and the Department of Justice and Equality on the provisions for the proposed legislation.
Formal mediation took place between my Department and an association representing members of the Permanent Defence Force on 23 May this year and further mediation took place on 5th July.
A Mediated Agreement has been reached between the parties on the matters at issue and three cases have been finalised under the terms of the mediated Settlement Agreement. The remaining 15 cases are in the process of the implementation of the Agreement. The legal cases currently stand adjourned pending the outcome of that mediation process.
The specific terms of the mediation agreement are confidential between the parties. Given that the mediation agreement is confidential and that the associated cases are still before the Courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.