Thursday, 8 October 2020

Ceisteanna (25)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

25. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Defence the enrolment in the Reserve Defence Force; the proposals for recruitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29127/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Government recognises the important role that the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) plays in contributing to Ireland's defence capability.

The White Paper on Defence sets out a blueprint for the development of the RDF and that their primary role is to support the Permanent Defence Force in crisis situations.

The RDF is comprised of the Army Reserve (AR), the Naval Service Reserve (NSR) and the First Line Reserve (FLR). The establishment of the combined Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve is 4,069 personnel. As of 31 August 2020, the strength of the AR and NSR is 1,624 personnel. There is no establishment for the FLR, which has a strength of 280 personnel as at 31 August 2020.

A key ongoing challenge for the RDF is to recruit and retain personnel and I am fully aware that there continues to be a shortfall between the current strength figures and those of the establishment. I am advised by the military authorities that while a recruitment campaign for the AR and NSR was opened in March 2020, the restrictions imposed in the interests of public health as a result of the Covid 19 Pandemic have had a significant impact on certain Defence Forces activities. As such, it has been difficult to conduct RDF inductions. To date this year, there has been 63 inductions into the RDF.

Supports being provided to maximise recruitment to the RDF include the use of social media and a range of outreach activities by RDF members. PDF recruit exit interviews now also contain information on applying for membership of the RDF.

The Government remains committed to on-going recruitment to the AR and NSR. I am advised that, while there are no specific dates as of yet, it is anticipated that another recruitment campaign for the AR and NSR will be launched towards the end of Autumn 2020.

Question No. 26 answered with Question No. 10.