Human Rights

Ceisteanna (160)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

160. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the concerns he has raised with the Government of Mozambique about recently revealed extrajudicial killings of civilians by the Mozambique military; his views on such reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29418/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The serious and ongoing deterioration in the security and humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, where a violent insurgency has been underway since 2017, is of grave concern.

Ireland is closely monitoring the situation through our Embassy in Mozambique, from where we are providing significant humanitarian assistance to those impacted by violence, including up to 300,000 people now displaced from their homes.

Recent reports of human rights abuses are also of serious concern. Through our Embassy in Mozambique, Ireland, together with the EU and Member States, engages in regular dialogue with the Government of Mozambique, which includes a priority focus on human rights issues. Last month Ireland participated in a formal dialogue between the EU and the Government of Mozambique, where the EU side called on the Government to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses, including those perpetrated by State security forces, and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. During this dialogue, the EU and Member States also stressed the importance of freedom of the press and the need to ensure that the people of Mozambique have access to accurate media coverage of the ongoing conflict. A further structured dialogue is scheduled for later this month, where updates on the Mozambican Government’s progress in investigating alleged human rights abuses will be sought.

As part of the Irish Aid response to the situation in Cabo Delgado, the Irish Embassy team in Maputo is working with partners and experts to ensure that the Mozambican military and police forces integrate International Humanitarian Law (IHL) norms and standards in their training and operations, as well as longer-term actions to support the revision and updating of IHL training for the military.

Minister Coveney last discussed the situation in Mozambique at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in April, when Council Conclusions were adopted, which urged authorities to protect citizens, carry out investigations, and identify the role of terrorist organisations and potential international links. The EU also called for an integrated and coordinated approach, promoting democracy, human rights, effective local governance, restoring the rule of law and addressing the socioeconomic conditions that foster instability and violent extremism. Since then, the situation has been kept under close review at both official and political level. In September 2020, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the humanitarian situation in Mozambique, again calling on the Government of Mozambique to investigate alleged cases of human rights abuses and to protect citizens and ensure that military interventions protect human rights and IHL. Ireland fully supports the EU position that the worsening security and humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado requires an integrated and coordinated response.

The protection and promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law are core pillars of Ireland's foreign policy, and those responsible for violations and abuses must be held accountable. Ireland will continue to closely monitor and assess the situation as it develops in Cabo Delgado, and will engage with the Government of Mozambique both directly and through multilateral fora.

Overseas Missions

Ceisteanna (161)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

161. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the special measures put in place to ensure there is no delay getting Ireland’s peacekeepers home on their due date without delays as has happened on a number of occasions recently. [29563/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As part of its response to the global Covid pandemic, the United Nations Secretary General in April of this year, directed the suspension of all rotations and leave for military personnel serving in United Nations missions until 30 June. The UN direction impacted over 100,000 UN uniformed personnel from over 120 countries serving world-wide, including Ireland and Defence Forces personnel serving with UN missions. The suspension was based on the protection of local communities as well as that of the peacekeepers during the Covid pandemic.

On foot of the subsequent efforts of the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces and the Department Foreign Affairs and Trade, rotations to UNDOF, MINUSMA, KFOR and EUTM Mali, and the MONUSCO mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were successfully concluded.

UNIFIL is our largest mission and involves the rotation of a significant number of personnel in two stages and is a complex operation. Personnel deployed to this mission who were due to return in May experienced delays of between 4-6 weeks following the end of their due rotation dates due to the UN moratorium on rotations. The next rotation of troops to UNIFIL will take place in November.

Defence Forces personnel are due to rotate to the UNDOF mission this week on flights organised by the UN. The UNDOF contingent is operating in a very challenging region where there can never be complete certainty on transit routes and where the administrative procedures relating to the transit of military personnel cut across a number of jurisdictions. Troops have been in quarantine prior to departure and will quarantine again on arrival at the UNDOF mission.

A number of individual appointments will also rotate during the period October to December 2020. In addition, a small number of Defence Force personnel are due to rotate to the KFOR mission in Kosovo in October and to MINUSMA in MALI in December 2020.

Personnel rotations, even in normal times, are complex involving diplomatic clearances for overflights, landings and transit which can result in delays given the lead times for securing such clearances. Covid 19 and the restrictions imposed by the UN to ensure the health and safety of both peacekeepers and the host State population, together with the restrictions imposed by host States have added significantly to this complexity.

I am highly conscious of the impact delayed rotations have on personnel and their families and I and my Department together with the Defence Forces will continue to make all efforts to ensure the on-time rotation of personnel insofar as is practicable.

Overseas Missions

Ceisteanna (162)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

162. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Defence the role of the Defence Forces in EU Operation IRINI; the number of Defence Forces personnel currently assigned to this mission; the operational work that has been carried out to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29275/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Operation IRINI, the UN mandated EU Naval mission in the eastern Mediterranean was launched on the 31st of March 2020. Its core task is the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya (through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets).

As secondary tasks, the operation will contribute to the implementation of UN measures to prevent illicit export of petroleum from Libya, assist in the development of the Libyan Coast Guard & Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea and contribute to the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks, in accordance with the applicable international law, including UNCLOS and UN Security Council Resolution 2240 (2015).

Ireland currently has three members of the Defence Forces deployed to Operation IRINI. These personnel are deployed to the Operational Headquarters (OHQ) in Rome in staff officer posts.

Since early May, when the Operation commenced activities at sea, Irini assets have patrolled the central Mediterranean and performed 650 hailings and 12 friendly approaches (visits on board merchant vessels). The Operation has monitored suspect vessels at sea in more than ten ports and landing points. It detected 80 suspect flights back and forth to Libya, monitoring 25 airports and landing strips. In September, Operation Irini personnel boarded and inspected a Merchant Vessel which was suspected of violating the UN arms embargo on Libya as it was on route to a Libyan port carrying jet fuel. This ship was diverted to an EU port for further investigation.

Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (163)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

163. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Defence if his Department has carried out any analysis into the implications of the ongoing pay and staffing issues in the Defence Forces on Irish neutrality in particular the ability to patrol Irish waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29276/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Naval Service is the State's principal sea-going agency and is tasked with a variety of defence and other roles. The primary day to day tasking of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State's obligations as a member of the European Union. The Naval Service is tasked with patrolling all Irish waters from the shoreline to the outer limits of Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These patrols are carried out on a regular and frequent basis and are directed to all areas of Irish waters as necessary.

On any given patrol day the Naval Service can carry out a number of taskings on behalf of other State Agencies such as the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, An Garda Síochána and the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners.

Naval Service patrols are complemented by assistance provided by the Air Corps. The Air Corps’ Maritime Squadron carries out aerial surveillance within the Irish EEZ using the two CASA maritime patrol aircraft.

The Government has acknowledged the recruitment and retention issues in the Defence Forces that are resulting in operational challenges primarily across the Naval Service and Air Corps. A range of actions have been taken to date to address these issues, and further actions are currently under consideration.

Civil and Military management are actively engaged in measures to address the recruitment and retention challenges in the Naval Service. It is clear that the situation the Naval Service is facing remains challenging, in particular there are a number of pinch points with particular specialists in terms of recruitment and retention. The Department and the Defence Forces are assessing a range of options to manage the current challenges in the short, medium and longer term. Both myself and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform have received separate briefings from the Naval Service on the current challenges. The Department has engaged in discussions with DPER on this matter and these discussions are ongoing.

The Air Corps has also experienced challenges. In this context the Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) and the GASU (Garda Air Support) have been prioritised. A Service Commitment Scheme for pilots was sanctioned by DPER and implemented in the third quarter of 2019. This has had a stabilising effect. Other measures such as a recommissioning scheme for former Air Corps pilots has also boosted pilot numbers and a range of initiatives which will see accelerated training through outsourcing, are restoring capacity to the Air Corps as quickly as possible.

Notwithstanding the staffing challenges being experienced, the Naval Service and Air Corps continue to carry out the roles assigned by Government.

I am satisfied that Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality, which is characterised by non-participation in military alliances, is not impacted.

Departmental Contracts

Ceisteanna (164)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

164. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Defence the contracts with public relations agencies and consultants entered into by his Department; and the remit of these contracts including the costs in tabular form. [29348/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My Department has no contracts currently with public relations agencies or consultants.

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (165)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Ceist:

165. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding the requirement for members of the Defence Forces from around County Donegal, who are based at Finner Camp, County Donegal, to assist with Covid-19 testing in Dublin and other locations that are long distances from their base; and the number of those members that have tested positive for Covid-19 while carrying out those duties. [29382/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I am advised by the Military Authorities that all Defence Force deployments, within means and capabilities, are undertaken in line with the national policy in response to COVID-19.

PDF personnel been conducting operations in support of the Health Service Executive to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic since March 2020. These operations cover a wide range of activities including contact tracing, swab testing, logistical support in distributing PPE and transporting test samples, supplying tentage, marshalling and traffic control to test centres around the country, and transportation of patients, among other support tasks.

Members of the are Defence Forces are deployed to where they are required, in line with operational requirements. However, I want to assure you that the welfare of Defence Forces personnel when on operations, or otherwise employed, is always a priority and that risk assessments are undertaken by the Defence Forces.

I am advised that the Government and HSE guidelines to counter the spread of COVID-19 have been put in place. The military authorities have issued comprehensive instructions to Commanders, which provide for safe working conditions and work practice. The intent is to ensure that personnel are protected and that capabilities are maintained, in order to be in a position to respond to assigned tasks.

The Defence Forces will continue to keep work practices under review as the situation develops in order to ensure that they remain in a position to provide appropriate capability, in support of the Health Service Executive and other Primary Response Agencies.

I have requested the military authorities to provide the further information requested by the Deputy and will revert to you once the information is received.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (166)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

166. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Defence if he will provide information on a matter (details supplied). [29401/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As with all Departments, the organisational details for my Department of all grades to Principal, inclusive, are publicly available on the Government website; whodoeswhat.gov.ie. This includes the role of each individual. During current COVID restrictions, all officers can be reached by contacting the telephone number for the Department's headquarters; 045 492000.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Ceisteanna (167)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

167. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which issues in respect of pay and conditions in the military have been resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29531/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

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.

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 have been weighted in favour of those on lower pay.

An increase of 2% on annualised salaries was implemented from 1st October 2020, under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020. The 5% cut in allowances imposed under FEMPI were also restored from that date.

The pay scales of all public servants (including members of the Defence Forces), earning under €70,000 per annum have been restored to the levels in place prior to the introduction of the Financial Emergency in the Public Interest (FEMPI) legislation.

In addition to the general round of pay increases awarded to public servants, members of the Permanent Defence Force have also benefitted from the implementation of increases in Defence Forces allowances as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission. This included a 10% increase in Military Service Allowance, the restoration of cuts in certain Defence Forces allowances imposed by the Haddington Road Agreement and the restoration of a service commitment scheme for flying officers.

The Permanent Defence Force representative associations will be included in the negotiations on a new national public service pay agreement.

The Programme for Government provides for the establishment of a Commission on the Defence Forces. This will consider, amongst other matters, pay and allowances and composition of the Defence Forces. The Programme for Government also provides that, on completion of the Commission's work, a permanent pay review body will be established for the Defence Forces.

Overseas Missions

Ceisteanna (168)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

168. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent of proposed deployment of Irish troops overseas on UN or other missions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29532/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As of 2nd October 2020, Ireland is contributing 571 personnel to 10 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 342 personnel and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria with 137 personnel. The UNIFIL mission in Lebanon continues to represent Ireland's largest overseas deployment.

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 supporter 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 2nd October 2020

UN MISSIONS

MEMBERS

UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) HQ

8

UNIFIL 116th Infantry Battalion

330

UNIFIL Sector West HQ

4

UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation) Israel & Syria

12

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

2

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

3

UNDOF (COS Staff/FHQ Staff - Camp Faouar - Bravo side)

9

UNDOF 58th Infantry Group (Camp Faouar - Bravo side)

128

TOTAL

496

UN MANDATED MISSIONS

EUFOR (EU-led Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)

5

EUTM Mali (EU-led Training Mission)

13

KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) HQ

13

Naval Service EU Mission (Op Irini HQ)

3

MINUSMA

14

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH UN MISSIONS

544

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

Staff Officer, High Level Planning Group, Vienna

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

571

Army Barracks

Ceisteanna (169)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

169. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which accommodation at military barracks is in keeping with best practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29533/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In order to ensure that the Defence Forces have the capability to deliver on all of the roles assigned by Government, a Defence Forces Built Infrastructure Programme was developed and published in January 2020. This Programme, which is a 5 year plan, provides a blueprint for investment in the Defence Forces built infrastructure over a multi annual timeframe and is designed to modernise and enhance the training, operational and accommodation facilities of the Defence Forces. It is envisaged that over the 5 year lifespan of the Plan some €145m will be spent on implementation.

Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (170, 173, 175)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

170. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the current strength of each branch of the Defence Forces throughout the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29534/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

173. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the degree to which recruits are attracted to the Air Corps; if issues have become obvious which might deter recruitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29537/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

175. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the total strength in each branch of the Defence Forces at present; the extent to which membership of the Army, Navy Service and Air Corps has fluctuated in the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29539/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170, 173 and 175 together.

As of the 30th August 2020, the latest date for which such data is available, the current strength of the Permanent Defence Force was 8,374 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) personnel, comprised of 6,763 Army personnel, 716 Air Corps personnel and 895 Naval Service personnel.

The following table shows the equivalent data for years 2010-2019: -I wish to advise the Deputy that the strength figures for the period 2010-2012 include personnel who were on secondment to other organisations or on career breaks. The strength figures for 2013 onwards are calculated net of those personnel.

Branch

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Army

7,752

7,650

7,510

7,434

7,457

7,309

7,332

7,386

7,243

7,002

Air Corps

766

791

791

779

766

748

704

734

725

721

Naval Service

1,032

997

1,058

1,023

1,057

1,083

1,090

1,053

989

936

Total

9,550

9,438

9,359

9,236

9,280

9,140

9,126

9,173

8,957

8,659

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).

While the Covid 19 situation did impact on the capacity of the Defence Forces to induct and train personnel, all recruitment activities have now resumed, taking public health guidelines into account. As at 30th September, the 2020 recruitment plan had resulted 8,227 applications and some 1,300 of those were for the Air Corps.

To date, 340 personnel have been inducted in 2020 and, in respect of the Air Corp, this includes 8 Air Corps cadets, 19 Air Corps Apprentices, 3 re-commissioned officers and 5 re-enlisted personnel.

Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (171)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

171. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which adequate trained members of the Defence Forces are available for the various duties required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29535/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Defence Organisation provides a broad range of services in accordance with its primary security role while it also undertakes a diverse range of non security related tasks. The Defence Forces continue to carry out the roles assigned by Government, including security operations, critical supports to An Garda Síochána and ATCA supports to other Government Departments and Agencies. In particular, the Defence Forces are playing an active and important role in the Covid 19 response, providing a broad range of supports to the HSE.

My priority as Minister for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained 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.

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 provides assistance within means 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 includes military training activities are specifically designed to 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

I also wish to assure you that the Defence Forces retain a wide range of specialist skills and equipment which 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.

With regard to training, the primary function of training and education in the Defence Forces is to maintain and develop 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.

Troops selected for overseas service undergo a rigorous programme of training designed to help them carry out their peacekeeping mission and to provide for their protection. Pre-deployment training is provided to members of the Permanent Defence Force and is updated in the light of increased threat.

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 will continue to respond in an effective and timely manner to such events were they to occur in the state.

Defence Forces Training

Question No. 173 answered with Question No. 170.

Ceisteanna (172)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

172. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if he is satisfied that sufficient personnel trained to the appropriate standard, are available for Naval Service missions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29536/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Naval Service is the State's principal sea-going agency tasked with a variety of defence and other roles. While the primary day to day tasking of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State's obligations as a member of the European Union, it also carries out a number of other non-fishery related tasks. The Naval Service continue to carry out a significant security role, which is vital to Ireland's national priorities and interests.

Given the unique and demanding nature of military life, there is a significant turnover of personnel in the Naval Service on an annual basis and in recent years the levels of departures have exceeded intakes. The Government has acknowledged these recruitment and retention issues and the fact that they are currently impacting on Naval Service operations. A range of actions have been taken to date to address these issues and further actions are currently under consideration.

I am advised that the Naval Service has a comprehensive in house system of training across all ranks, delivered through the Naval College. This is supplemented in relation to the training of apprentices and Marine Engineers as required through other academic institutions. This holistic approach to training ensures that personnel have the necessary skill set to deliver the broad range of services that the Naval Service provides to the State and internationally as required.

I am committed to ensuring that the personnel of the Naval Service and the Defence Forces as a whole, continue to be trained to best international standards.

Question No. 173 answered with Question No. 170.

Defence Forces Training

Question No. 175 answered with Question No. 170.

Ceisteanna (174)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

174. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which appropriate training has been made available to all members of the Defence Forces throughout the Army, Navy and Air Corps including the Army Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29538/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The primary function of training in the Defence Forces is to develop and maintain the capabilities necessary to enable them to fulfil the roles laid down by Government. The Defence Forces conduct training under four broad categories, namely; Leadership, Skills, Career, and Collective. Leadership Training is the medium through which the Defence Forces ensure that personnel are prepared for exercising command authority across the full range of military functions both at home and overseas in international operations. Skills Training ensures that Defence Forces personnel have the requisite individual, specialist, and crew skills. Career Training, and education, provides the organisation with the necessary pool of leaders and commanders at all levels. Collective Training allows military personnel to use their individual, crew, specialist and career training together, to develop integrated and coherent combat forces.

The scheduling of training in the Defence Forces, including the Reserve, is underpinned by an analysis of training required to meet operational output and capability development requirements. A long-term strategy is adopted with current planning horizons set out to 2021.

The Defence Forces seek to constantly benchmark training across all three arms of the organisation against best military and academic practice. Military best practice is ensured by implementing a policy of standardisation that is in line with EU and NATO/Partnership for Peace partners. Academic best practice is ensured by benchmarking courses through accreditation under the National Framework of Qualifications which is validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland. The Defence Forces deliver military programmes and modules meeting national and international standards and 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 remain committed to ensuring that all personnel of the Defence Forces continue to be trained to appropriate standards.

Question No. 175 answered with Question No. 170.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (176)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

176. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which military equipment including telecommunications continues to be updated and renewed throughout the Army, Navy Service and Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29540/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My priority as Minister 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, 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 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.

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 late 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 and this project has been allocated funding and is being progressed.

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 entered service in early 2020. In March of this year a tender process completed for the supply of one hundred and twenty (120) new 4 X 4 Troop Carrying Vehicles, with the award of a contract to Westward Scania, based in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. The first vehicles are scheduled for delivery in 2020 with delivery of all 120 vehicles concluding by 2023. 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 White Paper on Defence provides that the Air Corps will see the Cessna fleet replaced with three larger aircraft suitably equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance tasks. In December 2017, following a tender competition, a contract was awarded to Pilatus Aircraft Ltd for three PC-12 NG Spectre aircraft. These aircraft, arrived in Casement Aerodrome last month and are currently in the final stages of a period of testing and acceptance and are expected to be fully operational in the coming months.

In March 2020 an order was placed with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd for an additional PC-12 NG aircraft to provide very immediate additional fixed wing capacity to meet the unique situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. This aircraft provides the Air Corps with a further agile resource to service urgent requests from the HSE and other agencies of the State.

The White Paper also provides for the replacement of the CASA 235s with consideration to be given to 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 contract for the supply of two C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft was entered into with Airbus Defence and Space in December 2019, with delivery of the aircraft expected in 2023.

The White Paper on Defence also sets out an ambitious programme of capital investment in the Naval Service including the mid-life refit and upgrade of the P50 class vessels, LÉ Róisín and LÉ Niamh, as well as, in due course, the replacement of LÉ Eithne. The P50 mid-life upgrade programme is well underway. The replacement of the flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi role vessel (MRV) is the next scheduled component of the White Paper fleet investment programme. Projects for other vessel replacement will be considered over the life-time of the White Paper in the context of overall capability development and funding and the Equipment Development Plan (EDP) process. The EDP outlines that the MRV project is in planning ongoing stage within the indicative timeframe of 2020 to 2024.

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. In July of this year a tender competition was commenced with the publication by my Department of a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire inviting expressions of interest from economic operators for the supply of Software Defined Radios to the Defence Forces. The scope of the project consists of two main requirements; Personal Soldier Radios and Multi-Band Handheld, Manpack, Vehicular and Airborne radios. Given the complexity of the requirements the procurement process is expected to be comprehensive in nature with the first radios not expected to enter service before 2023.

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.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Ceisteanna (177)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

177. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the number of promotions throughout the Army, Navy Service and Air Corps currently awaiting approval at each rank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29541/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

All promotions in the Permanent Defence Force are approved without delay providing that a vacancy exists for a suitably qualified individual. The military authorities have advised me that there are currently no promotions in the Permanent Defence Force awaiting approval.

Defence Forces Data

Ceisteanna (178)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

178. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which the number of women throughout the Defence Forces has fluctuated in each of the past ten years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29542/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As at 31st August 2020, the latest date for which such data is available, the number of female personnel in the Permanent Defence Force was 584.

The table below shows the number of women in the Permanent Defence Force in each of the last ten years. I wish to advise the Deputy that the strength figures for the period 2010-2012 include personnel who were on secondment to other organisations or on career breaks. The strength figures for 2013 onwards are calculated net of those personnel.

Year

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Females

569

565

582

546

563

552

568

600

601

598

The White Paper on Defence 2015, which provides the current defence policy agenda over a ten year planning horizon, contains a number of initiatives and projects designed to encourage more women to apply for the Defence Forces and to increase female participation at all ranks.

The commitment to increase 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.

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.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Ceisteanna (179)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

179. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which payment has been received in respect of all overseas military deployment in the past eight years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29543/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The United Nations reimburses some personnel and Contingent Owed Equipment costs in respect of contributions to UN led operations. Rates of reimbursement, fixed in accordance with UN categories of equipment and personnel, are agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and the UN for each mission. The timing of the receipt of reimbursements is dependent on the financial situation at the UN. Reimbursements are received in arrears. The amounts received from the United Nations each year since 2012 are set out in the following table.

Year

Amount Received

2012

€11.190m

2013

€9.161m

2014

€6.793m

2015

€10.697m

2016

€12.940m

2017

€12.950m

2018

€14.004m

2019

€14.919m

2020

€8.478m (to date)