Defence

Eoghan speaking in the Dáil.

Defence Questions

Posted June 26th, 2012

Governance at Irish Red Cross – 27th March 2015

To ask the Minister for Defence his views on suspending the grant aid paid to the Irish Red Cross in view of renewed governance concerns in the organisation; if the grant will be suspended; and if he is satisfied with the internal operations of the organisation and its commitment to reforming its own governance procedures.

Reply

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney)

Whilst the Irish Red Cross Society is an independent charitable body corporate with full power to manage and administer its own affairs, I am aware that it has made substantial improvements to its governance framework in recent years which meet the standards set by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The reforms introduced were facilitated by the legislative amendments made by this Government in 2012 which represented the most wide ranging and fundamental set of changes to have occurred since the establishment of the Society in 1939.

However, the independence of the Society notwithstanding, I am aware that despite this clear progress there is nevertheless some concern that other aspects of governance have not moved as quickly and that this is an issue of ongoing debate within the Society. I am also aware that the Society is now entering a time of change in terms of its Board, Officers and Management and it is important that the incoming administration finds the right balance between the pace of reform and the obligation to manage the Society in a way that meets the expectations of all its stakeholders.

The payment of my Department’s annual grant to the Society is kept under review on an ongoing basis. The annual grant is paid quarterly, and the next installment for 2015 is due to be paid from 1 April next. Before this installment is paid my Department will require a report from the Society confirming, inter alia, that the first installment of the grant has been used appropriately and providing full details of how it was used. Only if my Department is satisfied that the grant has been used appropriately will the installment due from 1 April next be paid. I will continue to keep this matter under review.

Defence forces funding – 27th March 2015

To ask the Minister for Defence if he will seek to increase funding for the Defence Forces for 2016-2020.

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney)

As part of the 2015-2017 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) process, the Department of Defence submitted a detailed proposal to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in May, 2014. Following on from this CRE submission and subsequent bilateral discussions, an overall financial envelope for the 2015-2017 period was outlined. Within this envelope, decisions on resource allocation are made on a prioritised basis in accordance with assessed operational requirements.

 Work continues on the development of a new White Paper on Defence, which will inform key decisions regarding Defence provision for the next decade. Working groups comprising civil and military representatives from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are considering future operational demands and the defence capabilities required to meet these demands.

I anticipate that the final draft of the White Paper will be submitted to Government for approval by the end of July. Subject to Government approval, the White Paper on Defence will then be published.

 White paper on Defence – 6th October 2014

To ask the Minister for Defence when deliberations on the new white paper on Defence will commence.

Reply

The Minister for Defense (Simon Coveney)

The Green Paper on Defence, published in July 2013, set out a range of policy focused questions and initiated a broad public consultation process. This generated 122 written submissions from members of the public and other interested parties. As part of this consultation process, a number of people who made written submissions were invited to meet with civil and military staff of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces.

Discussions were also held with a range of other Government Departments on cross-cutting policy issues. The views of international organisations were also sought. These discussions are continuing, as required, throughout the White Paper process.

Working groups comprising civil and military representatives from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are considering likely future operational demands and the types of defence capabilities required to meet these demands. This ongoing work will underpin recommendations regarding defence provision for the next decade.

I anticipate that an initial draft White Paper will be submitted to me for my consideration by the end of 2014. I will subsequently bring the draft to Government for their consideration and approval.

Irish cooperation with NATO in Ukraine – 26th September 2014

To ask the Minister for Defence in view of recent hostilities in Eastern Europe, if he has held talks with any NATO members on the developing situation in Ukraine; and his plans to increase Irish cooperation with NATO or to formalise it through an application for membership.

Reply

The Minister for Defense (Simon Coveney)

I have not had direct talks with NATO Members in relation to the developing situation in Ukraine. However, during the recent Informal Defence Ministerial in Milan, Ministers for Defence were briefed on the developing situation in Ukraine. During that meeting Ministers, which included Ministers from NATO member countries, exchanged views on the crisis in Ukraine. It should be noted that twenty two of the twenty eight EU Member States are also members of NATO.

I can confirm that this Government does not intend to join NATO. Our cooperation with NATO will continue to be conducted through the Partnership for Peace. There has been no change in policy in relation to Ireland’s engagement in NATO or indeed in our Policy for deploying our troops to NATO-led Missions, which requires that the Mission be UN Mandated, and Government and Dáil approved.

Ireland’s relations with NATO are set within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and Partnership for Peace (PfP), including its Planning and Review Process (PARP).

Ireland joined EAPC and Partnership for Peace (PfP) on 1 December 1999. The EAPC is a multi-lateral body, made up of the 28 members of NATO and the 24 members of PfP, for political and security-related dialogue and consultation between its members.

The primary aim of our PfP participation is to enhance the Defence Forces’ interoperability with other professional military forces for the purpose of engaging in UN authorised peacekeeping and peace support operations led by the UN, EU or NATO. Participation in PfP is fundamental to Ireland being able to meet its obligations in providing professional peacekeepers for international crisis management and peacekeeping operations mandated by the UN.

As members of Partnership for Peace (PfP), Ireland participates in PfP’s Planning and Review Process (PARP). As part of this process, Ireland has adopted a range of Partnership Goals aimed at assisting Ireland to meet its UN/EU commitments in the areas of Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED), Cyber Security, Network Enabled Services, etc. Membership of PfP has allowed the Defence Forces to gain access to NATO standards – which are internationally-recognised as representing best practice for the development of military capabilities. The Defence Forces participation in PARP will continue as part of our engagement in Partnership for Peace.

Defence Force’s resources for potential European operations – 26th September 2014

To ask the Minister for Defence in view of recent hostilities in eastern Europe, his plans to review the resources allocated to the Defence Forces for peacekeeping operations, either in relation to equipment or the recruitment of additional personnel into the forces for possible future peacekeeping operations along Europe’s border with Russia.

Reply

The Minister for Defense (Simon Coveney)

The development of a new White Paper on Defence is underway. The White Paper will provide the future policy framework for Defence and Defence provision for the next decade.

A key part of the development of the White Paper is the consideration of potential challenges to our defence and security environment that may emerge into the future. As recent events have highlighted the defence and security environment can be volatile and unpredictable.

Future capability requirements, including those in relation to overseas peace support missions, are being considered in the drafting of the new White Paper on Defence. Working Groups comprising civil and military representatives from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are currently considering future operational demands and the defence capabilities required to meet projected future operational requirements.

In the course of their deliberations, the Working Groups are taking into consideration the inputs received from a wide variety of stakeholders. This includes the views of international organisations which have been sought with a particular focus on likely future trends in international peace support operations.

Discussions have also been held with a range of other Government Departments on cross-cutting policy issues and likely future demands from Government bodies and State agencies. This includes the ongoing review of Ireland’s Foreign Policy and External Relations. These discussions are continuing, as required, throughout the White Paper process.

This ongoing work will underpin recommendations regarding future defence provision at home and overseas.

The State’s Defence doctrine – 26th September 2014

To ask the Minister for Defence in view of recent hostilities in eastern Europe, his plans to review the State’s defense doctrine and resources, in particular the triple-lock policy which may impede future peacekeeping or other deployment needs in Eastern Europe.

Reply

The Minister for Defense (Simon Coveney)

The Green Paper on Defence, which was published in 2013, provided a comprehensive overview of the current defence policy framework and set out an assessment of the defence and security environment at that time. It also considered the relevance of the “triple lock” mechanism in a world where defence and security threats are becoming more interconnected, more diverse, less visible and less predictable than heretofore.

The Green Paper noted the requirement for a UN resolution as part of the “triple lock” reflects the central importance of the UN in granting legitimacy to peace support and crisis management missions. The Green Paper also noted that at the same time, the “triple lock” also constitutes a self imposed, legal constraint on the State’s sovereignty in making decisions about the use of its armed forces.

The Green Paper recognised that on balance the advantages of retaining the “triple lock” mechanism can be seen as outweighing the disadvantages. Nonetheless it is an issue worthy of discussion in advance of the adoption of the next White Paper on Defence.

A key part of the development of the White Paper is the consideration of potential challenges to our defence and security environment that may emerge into the future. As recent events have highlighted, the defence and security environment can be volatile and unpredictable.

The identification of policy options for the defence aspects of the Government’s response to these challenges and the associated capability implications is another key part of the process. There must also be consideration of other demands that will be made of the Defence Organisation over the coming decade and the broad roles that Government may assign to the Defence Forces.

The White Paper on Defence will include an updated assessment of the future defence and security environment, with appropriate input from the Department of Defence, Department of the Taoiseach, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Justice and Equality, Defence Forces and an Garda Síochána.

Working Groups comprising civil and military representatives from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are currently considering future operational demands and the defence capabilities required to meet projected future operational requirements. In the course of their deliberations, the Working Groups are taking into consideration the inputs received from a wide variety of stakeholders. This includes the views of international organisations which have been sought with a particular focus on likely future trends in international peace support operations.

Discussions have also been held with a range of other Government Departments on cross-cutting policy issues and likely future demands from Government bodies and State agencies. This includes the ongoing review of Ireland’s Foreign Policy and External Relations. These discussions are continuing, as required, throughout the White Paper process.

This ongoing work will underpin recommendations regarding defence provision for the next decade.

The Air Corps – 26th June 2013

To ask the Minister for Defence the reason the current criteria for eligibility to be admitted as a cadet in the Air Corps includes having no previous corrections made to the candidate’s eyesight, regardless of whether the candidate’s current eyesight fits the Air Corps criteria; and if he is considering amending this criteria in line with advancements in corrective laser eye surgery and bearing in mind practices employed by private airline companies and military air forces in other countries..

Reply:

Minister for Defence ( Alan Shatter)

There are a number of physical and medical standards laid down by the Military Authorities, including specified vision requirements, for entry to all branches of the Defence Forces. These requirements are based on the professional advice of the Medical Corps and having regard to the nature of the job, the duties of military service and the training exercises undertaken by members of the Defence Forces.

The Medical Corps regularly reviews the medical standards for entry to the Defence Forces. The question of the suitability for military service of persons who have had laser eye surgery to correct their visual acuity is complex. It depends on a number of factors including the exact type of surgery and the amount of visual correction effected.

Applicants, including those for an Air Corps Cadetship, who have had previous incisional or laser treatment to correct visual acuity are excluded from eligibility. However the matter will be kept under review.

Employment practices in the civil services – 6th February 2013

To ask the Minister for Defence if there are any retired public sector workers from his Department, or any other part of the public sector, currently on his Department’s payroll, for example, for sitting on a committee or preparing a report, but not exclusively these two areas; the number on the payroll; the cost to his Department; the services being delivered for this money; and the way that the positions were originally advertised.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

Since the Government took office in March 2011, my Department has engaged two retired public servants to act as civilian drivers to the Minister of State, Mr. Paul Kehoe T.D. These appointments are to temporary unestablished positions in the Civil Service on a fixed term contract basis. The post of Civilian Driver attracts an annual salary of €32,965. These positions were not advertised.

Since March 2011, my Department has also employed three retired public servants as civilian employees attached to military installations, in the positions of Storekeeper Clerk (2) and Craft Worker (1) on salary scales of €21,776 – €30,314 and €31,351 – €33,169 respectively. These positions were filled following a competitive open recruitment process through FÁS.

A retired public servant has recently been appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Government to the office of Ombudsman for the Defence Forces on a part time three day week basis. This appointment, which attracts a pro rata salary of €62,596, was made following a competitive open recruitment process through the Public Appointments Service.

Public service rostering – 6th November 2012,

To ask the Minister for Defence the sectors of the public sector that are currently employed on a roster basis and if there are any plans to remove employees from the rostering system.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

As the Permanent Defence Force operates on a 24/7/365 basis, it is necessary to have a rostering system in place.

In addition, a small number of civilian employees of my Department currently work on a roster basis to ensure that essential services can be provided outside of normal working hours.

There are currently no plans in place to change the rostering system.

The number of staff in the Department’s redeployment pool – 26th June 2012,

To ask the Minister for Defence the number of persons in his Department’s redeployment pool, including agencies responsible to it, that is, those persons who are to be redeployed as their current role is no longer necessary, but have not been.; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

There are three civil servants and two civilian employees of this Department on the redeployment panel at present.

The civil servants were placed on the redeployment panel in October 2011, and the civilian employees were placed on the redeployment panel in March 2012.

My Department is actively engaging with the Public Appointments Service and individual Departments on the redeployment of these staff and it is hoped to identify suitable opportunities for their reassignment at an early date.

Public sector staffing numbers – 12th June 2012,

To ask the Minister for Defence the percentage of staff working in the public sector, including in the civil services, that he deems to fall into the category of frontline staff, administrative, management, elected representative and any other relevant categories; and the way the pay budget is allocated across these categories in percentage and real terms in terms of as a proportion of the Department expenditure on salaries.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

The personnel of the Defence Organisation comprise members of the Defence Forces, civilian employees and civil servants.  The role of those personnel is to work together as an integrated team to provide the full range of defence outputs as laid down by Government.  Given the wide variety of tasks performed by staff, it is not possible to categorise staff into categories as requested.

Irish Translation and the Cost to the Ombudsman – 19th April 2012,

To ask the Minister for Defence the amount of money that has been spent by the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces in preparing, publishing and printing its annual report in 2007,2008,2009,2010 including design, consultancy and any associated costs and the amount of this that was spent on producing the same report in the Irish language.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

The following table provides a breakdown of the Annual Report printing and publishing costs in the years 2007 to 2010 by the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces.

Cost Items 2007 2008 2009 2010
Number of Reports 2,000 1,500 1,600 1,800
Design €4,900.00 €5,850.00 €3,250.72 €4,000.00
Printing and Production €14,550.00 €18,035.00 €12,809.00 €13,160.00
Translation €2,060.00 €3,030.00 €3,855.07 €2,607.00
Project Management €3,920.40 €1,400.00 €0.00 €1,000.00
Editing, Compilation and Proof Reading €4,791.60 €8,784.00 €6,415.00 €9,425.90 *
SundryCosts (including couriers, photography etc.) €850.35 €1,140.40 €449.55 €1,095.50
Total Cost €31,072.35 €38,239.40 €26,779.34 €31,288.40

* Including Four Year Review of ODF

The amount of outlay attributable to producing the ODF Annual Reports in the Irish language is as follows: Cost Items 2007 2008 2009 2010

Cost of producing the Irish Version of the ODF Annual Report €11,785.00 €14,972.50 €11,884.93 €11,187.00

This cost is calculated based on half of the cost of ‘Design’ and ‘Printing and Production’ together with the full ‘Translation’ cost.

Viability of the IED discovered in Ranelagh – 18th April 2012,

To ask the Minister for Defence if he will provide details on the potentially viable improvised explosive device which was discovered and made safe in the Ranelagh area, Dublin, recently; if he will provide details of the potential explosive capability of the device, the component parts, the intended target, the suspected motives, the suspected persons involved; if there is a reasonable threat of further such devices being used in the area; the total number of potentially viable IEDs discovered in the State in 2011; and the relevant details of same.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

Following a request from An Garda Síochána, a Defence Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was deployed to a residential property in the Ranelagh area of Dublin on Monday, 23rd January, 2012.  The EOD team subsequently made safe a suspected viable Improvised Explosive Device (IED). From a security and operational perspective, it would not be appropriate to reveal technical information on the specific components and capability of the device in question.

Intelligence gathering in relation to this event is a matter for An Garda Síochána, as is monitoring of the ongoing threat level.

With regard to the number of potentially viable IEDs discovered in the State in 2011, of the 237 EOD team callouts, 46 involved viable IEDs and of these 15 had functioned before the EOD team had an opportunity to intervene.

Bullying in the Defence Forces – 5th April 2012,

To ask the Minister for Defence the measures that have been taken to clarify the difference between bullying and robust training for new recruits in the Irish Defence Forces, for both recruits and their instructors, as recommended in a report on military human resources, conducted by the Independent Monitoring Group and published in December 2008.

To ask the Minister for Defence the measures that have been taken to ensure greater emphasis during initial training on ensuring new entrants in the Defence Forces understand what is and what is not bullying and harassment and inappropriate behavior, as recommended in a report on military human resources, conducted by the Independent Monitoring Group and published in December 2008.

To ask the Minister for Defence the measures that have been taken in the Defence Forces to put in place reviews of instructors’ workshops on corrective action and whether or not wider use is being made of case studies in training instructors for implementing corrective action, as recommended in a report on military human resources, conducted by the Independent Monitoring Group and published in December 2008.

To ask the Minister for Defence the outstanding recommendations from the report on military human resources, conducted by the Independent Monitoring Group and published in December 2008, that are still to be implemented.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

I propose to take Questions Nos. 318,  319,  320, and 321 together.

The 2008 report of the Independent Monitoring Group included 46 recommendations to chart the way ahead in continuing to meet the demands for dignity and equality in the military workplace. The 2008 report highlighted the initiatives undertaken by the Defence Forces in the area of human resource management and workplace culture in the period from 2004. The Report confirmed that the culture of the Defence Force organisation had evolved positively and noted that the recorded number of incidents of unacceptable behavior was low.  Of the 46 recommendations contained in the 2008 Report, 23 have been implemented, with work underway in respect of the majority of the remaining 23. As the implementation of these recommendations requires the concerted and combined effort of both the military and the Department and in some cases ongoing monitoring, the Independent Monitoring Group  report is considered monthly by the joint military/civilian Standing Committee on Defence Forces Personnel Policy Issues.

Turning to the specific issues raised in the questions, I am advised  that the syllabus for induction training has been revised.  Greater emphasis is placed during initial training on ensuring that new entrants understand what is and is not bullying/harassment and inappropriate behavior.  Pre-course orientation for Instructors is included in annual seminars for Cadet School/Brigade Training Centres including the Naval Service and Air Corps and is revised as necessary.  Defence Forces Training Establishment Standing Orders are updated where necessary prior to the commencement of a course.  Pre-course training for attached instructors must include familiarisation with the revised Standing Orders.  Relevant and realistic case studies are included as part of the annual seminar for Cadet School/Brigade Training Centres including the Naval Service and Air Corps.  In addition, the role of Unit/Sub-unit Commander in the area of corrective action is included in the revised Junior Command and Staff course.

Liability of Clearing Snow from Paths – 24th November 2011,

To ask the Minister for Defence if residents are responsible for clearing snow and ice from public footpaths outside their homes; and if they are liable in the event that, upon clearing said snow and ice, an accident should occur as a result.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

Minister for Defence (Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D):  While there is no legal obligation on residents to clear snow and ice from public footpaths outside their homes, the Government encourages community groups, residence associations and individuals to do so in order to help to alleviate the effects of severe weather.

The legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General to the Office of Emergency Planning is that if a footpath is cleared in a safe manner, i.e. if the footpath is cleared in a manner which disposes of snow so as not to create a hazard, there is no issue of liability should an accident occur.

Further advice on this issue can be found on the recently launched website www.winterready.ie.

The Department’s expected expenditure on consultancy fees – 6th October 2011,

To ask the Minister for Defence the amount he intends to spend on consultancy fees in 2011, in particular those contracted to identify value for money in his Department.

Reply

The Minister for Defence (Alan Shatter):

Minister for Defence (Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D.): It has not been possible in the time available to compile all the necessary information requested by the Deputy.  The information will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Letter dated 11.11.2011

I refer to Dáil Question number 140 on the Order Paper for answer on 6th October 2011 regarding consultancy fees.

It is expected that the total expenditure by the Department of Defence on consultancy fees for 2011 will be approximately  €500,000, none of which solely relates to value for money initiatives.

A Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Forces is currently underway in my Department. However, this review is being carried out in house by Department officials, so no consultancy costs will arise.

My Department is fully committed to ensuring value for money in all expenditure.

I trust the above is of assistance.