European Defence Action Plan

Question No. 35 answered with Question No. 13.

Ceisteanna (34)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Ceist:

34. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Defence if the proposed European defence fund constitutes funding from the EU budget being spent in a manner that has military or defence implications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29130/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The European Defence Fund is a financial mechanism designed to enable and accelerate cooperation among Member States to better coordinate, supplement and amplify national investments in defence. Through the co-funded European Defence Fund, Member States will be able to achieve greater output and develop defence technology and equipment that may not be feasible on their own. The Fund will also foster innovation and allow economies of scale, which will enhance the competitiveness of the EU defence industry.

The Fund will be divided into two windows - the Research Window and the Capability Window. As part of the negotiations on the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027 a final budget which translates into a current value of just under €8 billion was agreed in July this year. It will be split between a research budget of €2.651 billion, and a capability budget of €5,302 billion.

It should be noted that the EDF is an industrial sectorial programme, providing funding for research and capability development, which supports the European Defence and Industrial Technology Base in delivering capabilities for Common Security Defence Policy operations. In that regard, it is similar to other EU industry and research support programmes, such as Horizon 2020 also funded from the MFF.

The Regulation establishing the European Defence Fund is very clear that it will not financially support products or technologies where the use, development or production of which are prohibited by international law.

In order for us to have a well-equipped, capability driven Defence Forces, we require advanced equipment which incorporates the latest technology, alongside a more efficient and less fragmented industrial sector which can produce that equipment.

The EDF has the potential to offer significant funding opportunities for Irish enterprise and research institutes engaged in research and innovation that could be applied to the defence sector. Irish-based organisations accessed a significant level of funding under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 fund in the civil security work programme. These organisations are involved in nanotechnologies, data analytics, artificial intelligence, digitalisation, and are potentially well positioned to access the funding under the EDF.

During the negotiations of the EDF regulation, Ireland strongly advocated to ensure that Irish interests, particularly in the area of opportunities for SMEs were strongly represented. My Department will continue to work closely with colleagues in the Department of Business, Enterprise and innovation in this regard.

Question No. 35 answered with Question No. 13.

Cybersecurity Policy

Question No. 37 answered with Question No. 20.

Ceisteanna (36)

James Lawless

Ceist:

36. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Defence the role his Department plays in national cybersecurity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29134/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Cyber security is an issue with very significant implications for governmental administration, for industry, for economic well-being and for the security and safety of citizens. It is a standing item on the agenda of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning which I Chair. This Task Force last met on 9 September and included a very useful briefing and discussion on cyber security.

The response to cyber threats is a whole-of-Government challenge, with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications taking the lead role and with inputs in the security domain from An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.

The National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, is the primary authority responsible for cyber security in the State, including incident response, cyber resilience and information provision. While the primary role of the Defence Forces with regard to Cyber Security relates to the defence and security of its own networks and systems, the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are committed to participating, under the leadership of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, in the delivery of measures to improve the Cyber Security of the State. This is being done in line with the Programme for Government commitment to implement the National Cyber Security Strategy, recognizing the potential and important role of the Defence Forces.

Ireland’s current National Cyber Security Strategy? was published in December 2019 and follows on from the country's first Strategy which was issued in 2015. It is a broader and more comprehensive document than the last one, and takes advantage of the operational experience gained by the National Cyber Security Centre from 2015 to 2019, and from ongoing national and international engagements in the area. Department of Defence officials and the Defence Forces inputted to the drawing up of this Strategy.

Department officials and members of the Defence Forces are actively involved in the implementation of the new Strategy which, in conjunction with the White Paper on Defence 2015, will continue to inform our engagement in this critical area. This includes work to develop an updated, detailed risk assessment of the current vulnerability of all Critical National Infrastructure and services to cyber-attacks and the provision of a member of the Defence Forces for secondment to the Cyber Security Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia. My Officials also actively participate on the Inter-Departmental Committee overseeing implementation of the Strategy which is chaired by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications.

In addition, the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces have a Memorandum of Understanding and a Service Level Agreement with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications to provide support in the area of national cyber security. The overall aim is to improve the cyber security of the State through various types of assistance and support while also ensuring the operational requirements of the Defence Forces are prioritised, including the ongoing sharing of information and analyses of risks.

I would also add that my Department implements a programme of continuous review in relation to ICT security in order to keep up to date with current threat levels given that cyber security is a multifaceted challenge that is constantly evolving. Details of measures taken are not publicised for security reasons.

While it would also be inappropriate for me to comment on the specific cyber activities and the resourcing of same by the Defence Forces, for both security and operational reasons, I can inform the Deputy that the priority for the Defence Forces Communications and Information Services Corps is the protection of the Defence Forces Communications Network. Other activities undertaken by the CIS Corps include the monitoring and handling of cyber incidents, the enhancement of Defence Forces cyber situational awareness and the provision of cyber awareness training.

Question No. 37 answered with Question No. 20.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (38)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

38. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Defence the value of all contracts for goods or services, including drone technology, purchased by the Defence Forces from Israel and Israeli-based firms to date in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29108/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The primary focus for the procurement of defensive equipment by the Department of Defence is to maintain the capability of the Irish Defence Forces to fulfil the roles as assigned by Government. This includes undertaking overseas Peace Support Operations, and in this regard to afford the greatest possible force protection to Irish troops whilst on such missions.

The principle of competitive tendering for Government contracts is used by the Department of Defence for the acquisition of defensive equipment for the Defence Forces. Central to those procedures is the requirement to allow fair competition between suppliers through the submission of tenders following advertising of the tender competition on the e-Tenders website and on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), where appropriate, in line with the EU procurement Directives, including the Defence and Security Directive 2009/81/EC.

Such tender competitions are open to any company or country subject to the terms of all UN, OSCE and EU arms embargoes or restrictions.

I am advised by my Department that defensive equipment has been acquired from Israeli companies by way of competitive tendering. The main procurements in recent years have been Unmanned Aerial Vehicles operated by the Defence Forces, Ground Surveillance Radar Equipment and an upgrade to the Army's existing Fire Control and Command Systems. The primary purpose of such equipment is to provide force protection for our Defence Force personnel, in particular, when serving on overseas missions.

The value of defensive equipment and services procured from Israeli based firms and companies in 2020 to date is €546,431.64 inclusive of VAT. This expenditure is comprised of €244,110.96 inclusive of VAT to Aeronautics Defence Systems for new batteries and maintenance of the Defence Forces existing fleet of unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles; €200,170.68 inclusive of VAT to Elbit Systems for an upgrade to the Army's existing Fire Control and Command Systems, and €102,150 inclusive of VAT also to Elbit Systems for maintenance services for the Defence Forces Ground Surveillance Radar Equipment.

The manner in which the Department of Defence procures both goods and services remains consistent with international best practice and is in line with EU and UN decisions on trade embargoes. I am satisfied that this is the appropriate way in which to continue.

Army Barracks

Ceisteanna (39)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

39. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Defence the future plans for Custume Barracks, Athlone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28520/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Defence Forces Built Infrastructure Plan 2020-2025 provides a blueprint for investment in the Defence Forces built infrastructure over a five year timeframe and is designed to modernise and enhance the training, operational and accommodation facilities of the Defence Forces.

There are currently over €68m worth of projects underway at different stages of development. This level of expenditure will continue to increase and is projected that over the five years some €145m will be invested.

The commitment to the ongoing operation of Custume Barracks, Athlone, has been reaffirmed with the recent completion of the new Dining Hall complex. It was recognised that there was a need to refurbish and upgrade the Dining Hall for the purpose of providing a modern kitchen and dining facility to accommodate all ranks stationed at the Barracks. The main works contract, valued at €4.1m, was awarded in October 2018 and work was completed earlier this year. The facility is now fully operational and the upgrade and refurbishment ensures the long-term viability of the complex at the Barracks.

The Built Infrastructure Plan recognises the need for the development of a permanent EAS hangar and associated helicopter facilities at Custume Barracks. The development of strategic infrastructure of this nature will be progressed further as the Plan is implemented.

Custume Barracks is and will continue to be an important operational military barracks. There are no plans to change this.

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (40)

Sorca Clarke

Ceist:

40. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Defence the additional resources that have been provided specifically to deal with increased gangland activity in view of the role of the Defence Forces in providing aid to the civil power. [28526/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My priority as Minister 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.

The resources available to the Defence Forces to carry out their operational commitments are kept under constant review and 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.

Primary responsibility for the internal security of the State rests with the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) which, in practice, means to provide assistance and support to An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. The Defence Forces retains a wide range of specialist skills which can be deployed in such circumstances.There is ongoing 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 full spectrum of Defence Forces personnel and equipment are available for deployment in response to any security and other emergencies that may arise. Within the Defence Forces, both the Ordnance Corps and the Army Ranger Wing specialise in providing an immediate response to emergency incidents that might require their highly specialised capabilities. The Ordnance Corps consists of a number of Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams which are on stand-by 24/7 to respond when a request for assistance is received from An Garda Síochána to deal with suspect devices. The Army Ranger Wing is an integral unit of the Defence Forces whose roles include provision of specialist ATCP support to An Garda Síochána. The need for a high level of preparedness to deal with any requests for Special Forces operations is inherent in the unit’s mission. Members are trained to the highest levels of motivation, physical fitness and skill at arms for their specialist role. The ARW is on stand-by 24/7 to be called upon to undertake duties in any part of the country. I can confirm that the Defence Forces keep their operational plans and response capabilities for dealing with a wide range of threats under constant review.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

Ceisteanna (41)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

41. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence the action he will take to address the legacy of the administration of the anti-malaria drug, Melfoquine Lariam, which has had severe side effects on serving and former members of the Defence Forces. [28827/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The use of anti-malarial drugs is a medical matter to be decided by medical professionals. In the Defence Forces these are matters for highly qualified medical officers having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual member of the Defence Forces.

There are three anti-malarial drugs, namely Lariam, Malarone and Doxycycline which are used by the Defence Forces. The selection by a Medical Officer of the most appropriate drug for use is a complex one and dependent on a number of factors. All of the anti-malaria drugs have contraindications and side effects, and significant precautions are taken by the Defence Forces Medical Officers in accessing the medical suitability of personnel to take any medication.

Malaria is a serious disease and can be fatal. This is a fact that is borne out by the World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report 2018 which estimates there were 219 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2017 with an estimated 435,000 malaria deaths. The reason a malaria chemoprophylaxis is prescribed to our troops is to protect them.

The State Claims Agency manage personal injury claims, including personal injury claims relating to the consumption of Lariam taken by current and former members of the Defence Forces. Given that there is litigation pending in relation to these matters, the Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

Defence Forces Strength

Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 6.

Ceisteanna (42)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

42. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if adequate staff remain available to crew the various sea-going vessels and aircraft with particular reference to ensuring the availability of full-strength sea and air rescue services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29113/20]

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.

Notwithstanding the above, 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 the recruitment and retention 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.

With reference to Search and Rescue, since 2004 the Irish Coast Guard has overall responsibility for the provision of Search and Rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue region. Both the Naval Service and the Air Corps provide support to the Irish Coast Guard in maritime Search and Rescue operations on an “as available” basis. A Service Level Agreement is in place setting out their roles and responsibilities in this regard.

Notwithstanding the staffing challenges being experienced, the Defence Organisation continues to provide support, as available, to the Irish Coast Guard in respect of Coast Guard Search and Rescue operations.

Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 6.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Ceisteanna (44)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

44. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Defence if pay restoration for the Defence Forces is on target to be achieved in October 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28296/20]

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. 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 have been weighted in favour of those on lower pay.

An increase of 2% on annualised salaries was paid from 1st October 2020, under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020. The 5% cut in allowances imposed under FEMPI were restored on 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 states that upon completion of the Commissions work, a permanent pay review body for the Defence Forces will be established.

Military Medals

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 10.

Ceisteanna (45)

Cathal Crowe

Ceist:

45. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Defence if soldiers who served the State from 1968 to 1998 will be given a medal in recognition of their loyalty and service throughout the Troubles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22241/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Government deeply appreciates and values the contribution of the many members of the Defence Forces who served along the border during the period we have all come to know as the ‘Troubles’. I have no doubt that my predecessors in various Governments over the years share that appreciation and depth of gratitude.

There are currently two medals that mark the service of personnel with either the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) or the Reserve Defence Force (RDF). The medal known as An Bonn Seirbhíse (The Service Medal) may be awarded to an officer, non-commissioned officer or private of the Defence Forces, or a member of the Army Nursing or Chaplaincy Service who possess the qualifying criteria for the award.

The qualifying service for officers and members of the Chaplaincy Service and Army Nursing Service is 5,475 days satisfactory and continuous service. The qualifying service for NCOs and Privates is 3,650 days satisfactory and continuous service.

An Bonn Seirbhíse (Na hÓglaigh Cúltaca) (The Service Medal (Reserve Defence Force)) was introduced in 1961 for members and former members of the Reserve and is awarded after 7 years of service.

The award of either of these medals to qualifying personnel reflects the service given by those personnel to either the PDF or the RDF as the case may be, and by extension the wider public, during the periods for which they served.

Whilst acknowledging the significant role of all Defence Forces personnel to the security of the State throughout the period of the ‘Troubles’, I am satisfied that these medals meet the need of marking service of personnel with either the Permanent Defence Force or Reserve Defence Force as the case may be, and I have no plans to introduce additional medals in this regard.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 10.

Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (47)

Cian O'Callaghan

Ceist:

47. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Defence if a shortage of personnel is affecting the operational efficiency of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28522/20]

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 Force are playing an active and important role in the Covid 19 response, providing a broad range of supports to the HSE.

Notwithstanding the above, 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 the recruitment and retention 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.

The Defence Forces continue to contribute fully to overseas peace support operations. There has been an added complication arising from Covid 19 with members of the Defence Forces deploying on overseas missions now required to quarantine for 14 days before deploying overseas and to self-isolate on return. The question of appropriate allowances for this additional requirement has been agreed with DPER.

In summary, a range of HR initiatives are being progressed which are aimed at enhancing the capabilities of the Defence Forces.. These include changes to recruitment practices and implementation of the findings of the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) Report on recruitment and retention issues in the Defence Forces. Certain of the PSPC pay related findings are linked to the next pay agreement and will be progressed in that context. Discussions are ongoing in relation to other of these findings.

The Government is committed to retaining the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government both at home and overseas.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Ceisteanna (48)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

48. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Defence if troops who undertook predeployment quarantine in Aiken Barracks, Dundalk, have been paid the armed peace support allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29132/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As a strong supporter of the United Nations (UN), Ireland is committed to making forces available for UN mandated missions, pursuant to its commitments under the UN Charter. Given the unprecedented nature and unique circumstances of Covid 19 and in order to mitigate its transmission, the United Nations Secretary General, on 5th April 2020, directed a number of measures to protect UN personnel and their capacity to continue their critical operations.

The exceptional circumstances of the Covid 19 pandemic currently requires that members of the Permanent Defence Force be quarantined in military installations for a period immediately prior to their departure on overseas missions. This requirement is to comply with current directions from the United Nations (UN) and is limited to the duration of the UN restrictions designed to mitigate the spread of transmission of Covid 19.

I have agreed with Mr. Michael McGrath TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform that the overseas allowances which are normally paid to members of the Defence Forces serving in overseas military operations on the direction of Government, to be paid from the start of the period of quarantine. The payment of the allowances to the relevant personnel will be processed in the normal manner and will also be paid tax free, as is normally the case for these particular overseas allowances.

Military Medals

Ceisteanna (49)

John Brady

Ceist:

49. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Defence the reason for the continued refusal to honour the heroism of members of the Defence Forces who fought at the siege of Jadotville in the service of the United Nations. [29078/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The siege of Jadotville was a prominent event that occurred during Ireland's peacekeeping mission in the Congo in September 1961. "A" Company, 35th Infantry Battalion took responsibility for the UN post at Jadotville on 3rd September 1961. On the 9th September, a large force of Katangese Gendarmerie surrounded them and early on the morning of the 13th September "A" Company came under attack. From the 13th to the 17th September they endured almost continuous attack. They were taken into captivity on the 17th September and remained in captivity until finally released on the 25th October 1961.

The issue of the award of medals to the men of “A” Company, 35th Infantry Battalion was addressed in 1962 and 1965. A properly constituted Medals Board considered the various cases presented. The board did not award any medals whose citations mention Jadotville. The Chief of Staff of the day considered the decision of the Board and was satisfied with the findings. Subsequently at that time, the question was raised again in a letter to a newly appointed Chief of Staff. He forwarded the letter to the original Medals Board and asked that they reconvene and review their decision. The Board indicated that the issues raised had received due consideration and that they were not prepared to alter their findings.

A review was conducted in 2004 by military officers for the purpose of a broader examination of the Jadotville case. This Board recommended that the events of Jadotville and the contribution of the 35th Battalion be given recognition. In this context, a number of measures have taken place to honour and to commemorate the events at Jadotville and the very significant contribution of “A” Company and of the 35th Battalion, as a whole, to the UN Peace Support Mission in the Congo.

Recognition of their contribution over the years include:

A. A presentation of scrolls to "A" Company in 2006.

B. Portraits of Lt Col McNamee (35th Battalion Commander) and Comdt Quinlan (Company Commander “A” Company) were commissioned in 2006.

C. In July of 2010 the 50th anniversary of the first deployment to the Congo was commemorated in a highly publicised and well attended event in Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.

D. A nominal roll of “A” Company, printed in copper, was affixed to the monument in Custume Barracks and was unveiled as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Jadotville affair in September 2011.

E. On the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Siege of Jadotville, a Unit Citation to honour the collective actions and bravery of the men of “A” Company was issued. This was the first time a Unit Citation was awarded within the Defence Forces.

Furthermore, on 13th June 2017, the Government decided, as an exceptional step, to award a medal known as “An Bonn Jadotville” or “The Jadotville Medal” to each member of “A” Company, 35th Infantry Battalion and to the family representatives of deceased members to give full and due recognition in honour of their courageous actions at the Siege of Jadotville. This medal presentation ceremony took place on 2nd December 2017 in Custume Barracks, Athlone. This location is considered the spiritual home of “A” Company and it is from here that “A” company assembled in advance of their fateful deployment to the Congo.

Over the past number of years various representations have been received in my Department outlining the courage and bravery of "A" Company. All representations have been considered and responded to acknowledging their valiant actions while under siege in Jadotville.

With regard to enquiries about any additional medals, it has been previously indicated that any additional documentation, information or evidence to support the request to award such medals will be considered. At this juncture, no new information has come to light.

Defence Forces Operations

Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 21.

Ceisteanna (50)

John Brady

Ceist:

50. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Defence the operations in which the Defence Forces are engaged in abroad; and the number of operations that were subject to approval by Dáil Éireann. [29080/20]

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 conditions under which the Defence Forces may participate on overseas peace support operations are set out in the Defence Acts. Where the Defence Forces contingent comprises part of an International United Nations Force, the conditions, known as the “triple lock”, must be satisfied, that is the operation must be authorised/mandated by the United Nations; it must be approved by the Government; and it must be approved by way of a resolution of Dáil Éireann, where the size of a Defence Forces contribution is more than twelve personnel. No Dáil Éireann approval is required where members of the Defence Forces are deployed in a training role, which is consistent with the provisions of Section 3(1)(b) and 3 (1)(d) of the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006.

With regard to current military operations overseas, Dáil Éireann approval was sought for Defence Forces participation in the following missions:

UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)

UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force)

MINUSMA (United Nations Mission in Mali)

EUFOR (EU-led Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)

KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo)

EUTM Mali is a training mission. Pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(1)(b) and 3 (1)(d) of the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006, Dáil Éireann approval is not required where members of the Defence Forces are deployed in a training or advisory role as is the case on this mission.

The other missions where Defence Forces personnel are deployed either fall below the threshold requiring the approval of Dáil Éireann, or do not require such approval pursuant to the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006 - e.g. appointments in international organisations, representative offices and observer missions.

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

Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 21.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 20.

Ceisteanna (52)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

52. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Defence the number of persons recruited to the Defence Forces under the re-enlistment scheme announced in March 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29105/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

On 1 April last, the former Minister with responsibility for Defence launched a scheme to re-enlist former Permanent Defence Force (PDF) enlisted personnel. The focus of the scheme is those former PDF personnel with particular skillsets identified by the Chief of Staff.

The scheme allows for initial re-enlistment for a minimum of six months and up to 3 years and the duration of the re-enlistment offered is dependent on the vacancies that exist. The re-enlistment of former personnel with the relevant skills and experience is one of the many actions being pursued to address skills shortages in the PDF. It is a medium to long term initiative which predates the COVID-19 and will assist both in the PDF response to the crisis and beyond.

There has been a positive response to the scheme, and applicants are currently at various stages in the process. I am advised by the Military Authorities that there is a requirement to undergo a comprehensive selection process, including interview and assessment, medical and security clearance phases.

Following their recommendation by the Chief of Staff, a total of twenty six applicants have been approved by me for re-enlistment Sixteen of those have been inducted to date with a further four scheduled to be inducted on 9th October 2020. I understand that further recommendations by the Chief of Staff of candidates to be re-enlisted under the scheme are imminent.

A separate scheme which provides for the re-commissioning of former Officers is also in place. To date, five Flying Officers have been re-commissioned, with further re-commissioning of Officers likely.

I welcome the re-enlistment and re-commissioning of these personnel and wish them well in their renewed careers in the Defence Forces. Their important contribution to the operational effectiveness of the Defence Forces is appreciated.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 20.

Overseas Missions

Ceisteanna (54)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

54. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Defence the provisions in place for Defence Forces personnel who will be serving overseas with the United Nations for a minimum of six months to receive leave to return home during this time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28897/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The leave that may be granted to Defence Forces personnel when on service outside the State with an International United Nations Force, is subject to the UN regulation governing that Force and is therefore at the discretion and direction of the UN.

As such, different annual leave arrangements can apply to different mission areas, depending on specific mission Standard Operating Procedures. Considerations such as security and operational and logistical concerns that pertain to that mission area and surrounding territories are taken into account.

On 5 April last, the Deputy will recall that the UN Secretary General set out in clear terms the crisis facing the world stemming from the Covid 19 pandemic. He directed a series of measures be put in place to mitigate any transmission of the disease. This included the suspension of all rotations and leave for military personnel serving in UN missions. The suspension was based on the protection of local communities as well as that of the peacekeepers.

However, as a result of engagement by the Department of Defence and the Department Foreign Affairs and Trade with the UN in the mission areas and at UN Headquarters, though both informal and formal contacts, Ireland successfully secured an exemption and was granted approval for rotations during the UN moratorium.

Further to the range of measures announced last April, the UN Secretary General has recently advised that transitional arrangements will apply in the following six month period, July to December 2020, which will include a partial resumption of rotations with rigorous quarantine requirements and periodic reviews built into the process.

The range of measures, together with national guidelines, mean that it is not possible therefore, to put leave arrangements in place during tours of duty to certain mission areas.

In such cases, I’m advised by the Military Authorities that Defence Forces personnel are informed prior to deployment, and kept abreast of any new guidance throughout their tour and I also understand that Mission Leave is being granted at the end of a tour to those troops who have not been in a position to avail of UN regulated leave during their deployment.

The matter remains under review for each mission in the light of the prevailing public health guidelines and mission rules.

Civil Defence

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 32.

Ceisteanna (55)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

55. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to an ongoing situation in the south Cork Civil Defence unit regarding treatment of staff and complaints procedures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28335/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Civil Defence operates as a partnership between the Department of Defence and Local Authorities. As Minister, my Department is responsible for setting down national Civil Defence policy, for funding up to 70% of the cost of Civil Defence services within Local Authorities and for the provision of training for Civil Defence Volunteers.

Local Authorities have overall responsibility for day to day Civil Defence operations within their respective Local Authority. In that context, the key person is the Civil Defence Officer who is a Local Authority employee.

My Department was informed by Cork County Council in February 2019 of a proposal to restructure Civil Defence within Cork County and to move from three units to two units. My Department has supported this proposal by providing additional funding for the appointment of two new Assistant Civil Defence Officers, one in each of the two units.

The Deputy may wish to note that where individual Civil Defence volunteers have complaints or grievances, the Civil Defence Code of Conduct, which is available on www.civildefence.ie, sets out the appropriate processes and procedures for dealing with such complaints or grievances. Implementation of these processes and procedures is undertaken by the relevant Local Authority.

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 32.