2. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if Naval Service vessels, as part of Operation Sophia (details supplied), have observed or have been prevented by the Libyan Coast Guard from going to the aid of migrants in distress in international waters in view of the fact that it has threatened, shot at persons at sea and in the sea contrary to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. (Question 20510/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Naval Service Operations)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: This question relates to the role of the Naval Service in Operation Sophia when it changed from Operation Pontus. Is the Navy contributing to an ongoing immigration problem and abuse of human rights, particularly in detention centres in Libya?
 ...

7. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Chemical Exposure Report 1994-2005 will be released in order to provide former members of the Air Corps who are now chronically ill with information relating to the level of exposure they suffered in view of his recent call for candour and transparency in cases regarding the health of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20216/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - State Claims Agency)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: This relates to a matter that has been ongoing for a while. Given the current controversy around the checks for cervical cancer, there is a need for transparency in publishing reports that will help people suffering health consequences so they can manage future health needs.
 ...

9. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence to outline his views on whether the threat level against Irish troops serving on the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon has increased since a person (details supplied) attended a major Israeli military and state public propaganda event on 18 April 2018, an event that coincided with the anniversary of the 1996 Qana massacre (details supplied) and at a time when Israeli soldiers are regularly targeting and firing at Palestinian civilians and wounding or killing them. (Question 20215/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Overseas Missions)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: I asked the Minister of State at a joint committee meeting recently whether he believed it was appropriate for Major General Michael Beary, who is the head of mission of the UN in Lebanon, to attend an Israeli celebration at Mount Herzl and whether that attendance had put the lives of Irish troops at risk.
 ...

39. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on Fine Gael MEPs who voted in favour of a European Parliament report requesting each member state to spend 2% of its GDP on defence; if such a proposal could be considered Government policy; the measures he has taken to ensure that the State’s contribution to the Athena funding mechanism will not be required to increase as common costs of EU missions rise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20218/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Expenditure)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): With regard to defence spending, Government policy is defined within the parameters of our national budgetary process and role of Dáil Éireann. Within the EU, it is accepted that defence and security is a national competence, including national spending on defence and security. 
As part of Ireland’s participation in Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), Ireland has committed to regularly increase our defence budgets in real ...

41. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the actions taken by his Department on foot of the decision of the European Committee of Social Rights to provide for the collective bargaining rights of Defence Forces personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20219/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Representative Organisations)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The European Committee of Social Rights has considered a complaint submitted by EUROMIL, a European umbrella body for military associations, on behalf of PDFORRA, concerning the lack of certain rights for military representative associations in Ireland. 
It should be noted that the basis for the complaint pre-dates a number of Government initiatives. In relation to collective bargaining, the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) Represe...

42. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the role of the Army Ranger Wing that was stationed as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan on several occasions since 2006; the reason Dáil Éireann was not alerted to the fact that Irish special forces members were deployed there contrary to the neutrality of the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20217/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Overseas Missions)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 42 together.
The Army Ranger Wing (ARW) are the Special Operations Forces of the Defence Forces.
Defence Forces personnel, including ARW personnel, are deployed to United Nations peacekeeping missions in accordance with the provisions of the Defence Acts.
The statutory authority for the despatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force for service overseas is set out in Section 2 of t...

98. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the recommendations from the January 2006 review in the aftermath of the death of a person (details supplied); the recommendations that were not implemented; and the reason therefor. (Question 19774/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Defence Forces Fatalities)

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): In February 2006, the then Minister for Defence received a report following an independent review conducted by Mr. Sean Hurley on the interactions between the Department of Defence/Defence Forces and the parents and family of Private Kevin Barrett in the aftermath of the tragic death of Private Barrett on 18th February 1999 while serving with UNIFIL in South Lebanon. 
Mr Hurley looked in detail at how the Department and th...

72. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of vacancies at each rank in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19311/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Strength)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I am advised by the Military Authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force, at 31 March 2018, the latest date for which figures are available, was 8,993 (Whole Time Equivalent) comprising 7,229 Army, 717 Air Corps and 1,047 Naval Service Personnel. The attached table outlines the total vacancies by rank, based on the agreed establishment for the Permanent Defence Force of 9,500. In this context, it is my intention...

73. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to publish the assessment submitted by the Defence Forces to his Department in February 2018 on the loss of Defence Forces personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19312/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 76 to 78, inclusive, together.
In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues. 
The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work ...

74. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost of restoring the scheme whereby a €22,000 bonus was paid to officers in the Air Corps over five years if they chose to extend their contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19313/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 75 together.
The retention of Officers in the Defence Forces, in particular retaining Air Corps Pilot Officers, has been a challenge for the Defence Forces in recent years. The most recent Air Corps Pilot Service Commitment Scheme ran from 2002 to 2010 with the intention of retaining experienced AC Pilot Officers. 
The following table illustrates the number of personnel who availed of the ...

75. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the annual cost of the operation of the bonus scheme to retain officers in the Defence Forces for each of the ten years prior to its abolition; the number of personnel availing of the scheme; the rank of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19314/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 75 together.
The retention of Officers in the Defence Forces, in particular retaining Air Corps Pilot Officers, has been a challenge for the Defence Forces in recent years. The most recent Air Corps Pilot Service Commitment Scheme ran from 2002 to 2010 with the intention of retaining experienced AC Pilot Officers. 
The following table illustrates the number of personnel who availed of the ...

76. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when his Department’s submission to the Public Service Pay Commission will be completed; when the report on the issues affecting pay and retention of personnel will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19315/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 76 to 78, inclusive, together.
In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues. 
The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work ...

77. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the paper prepared by military authorities as part of the joint submission to the Public Service Pay Commission will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19316/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 76 to 78, inclusive, together.
In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues. 
The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work ...

78. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has met with representatives of an organisation (details supplied) on the submission to the Public Service Pay Commission; if the views of the organisation will be included in the joint submission process; if the terms of reference of the examination by the commission includes meeting with representatives of the Defence Forces personnel, including the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19317/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 76 to 78, inclusive, together.
In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues. 
The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work ...

160. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the running and maintenance costs of Columb Barracks, Mullingar, across headings (details supplied). (Question 16066/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Army Barracks Closures)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Since the closure of Columb Barracks in 2012, my Department has explored a number of avenues to try and secure its long term future for the benefit of the local community. Government Departments and other Public Bodies, including Westmeath County Council, have been invited to declare an interest in acquiring the property. However no interest has been expressed from any of these bodies.
In May 2016 officials from my Department at...

31. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the timeframe for implementation of the recent decision of the European Committee of Social Rights on the collective bargaining rights of Defence Forces personnel. (Question 10465/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: What steps does the Department intend to take following the decision in February by the European Committee of Social Rights on the granting of collective bargaining rights to members of the Defence Forces? How does the Minister of State intend to implement the decision?
 ...

37. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the development of a new anti-malarial drug, tafenoquine (details supplied); the measures he will take to ensure that this drug is safe; and his plans to ensure that it is not prescribed to Defence Forces personnel unless it has been established that it is appropriate for prescription. (Question 10200/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Defence Forces Medicinal Products)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: This question is a follow up on an issue I have been raising for a number of years in this Chamber, namely, the administration of anti-malarial drugs by the Defence Forces on unsuspecting soldiers. Following on from the withdrawal of the sale of Lariam in Ireland by Roche Products (Ireland) Limited, I am seeking a commitment from the Minister of State that no new drug will not be provided to the Defence Forces unless it has been deemed safe, taking into account the exp...

49. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the procurement schedule for military hardware for the next five years; the budgetary allocation; the equipment to be purchased; and the suppliers for hardware and ammunition to the Defence Forces. (Question 10201/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Defence Forces Equipment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government. 
The acquisition of new equipment and equipment upgrades for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me, and the White Paper on Defence recognises that ...

54. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has met or plans to meet with the whistleblower that produced the protected disclosure outlining the deaths of 56 members of the Defence Forces. (Question 10203/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Ministerial Meetings)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I appointed an independent third party to review allegations made in a number of protected disclosures relating to health and safety issues in the Air Corps which were received in late 2015 and early 2016.
I sent the report of the independent third party to those who had made disclosures for their views.  I have also received further correspondence from one of the individuals, setting out concerns in relation to a series of deat...

58. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the implications of the decision to approve participation in the German-led EU battle group. (Question 10202/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - EU Battle Groups)

Deputy Mick Wallace: Again, we are facing the prospect of Irish troops taking part in an EU battle group. It has been reported that the Army Rangers will be taking part in their first overseas deployment since the peacekeeping mission in Chad in 2008. Will the Minister of State outline the range of military equipment that our forces will be using? How does he consider that such training and activity is compliant with Ireland’s role as a neutral country?
 ...

69. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the allocation to his Department for the purposes of recruitment of Defence Forces personnel in 2018; and if he has requested an additional allocation to meet the costs of recruitment in the Defence Forces. (Question 10204/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Defence Forces Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 69 together.
It is anticipated that in the region of 800 personnel, comprising of General Service Recruits, Apprentices, Cadets and Direct Entry Officers will be recruited to the Permanent Defence Force in 2018. A competition for Air Corps Aircraft Technicians was launched on 2 March 2018 and plans for the initiation of further competitions are currently being finalised. 
The White Paper ...

8. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on whether protected disclosures in which it is alleged that health and safety inspection reports were destroyed as part of a cover-up within the Air Corps were made in good faith; his further views on whether the motivation of the persons that submitted these disclosures is for the well being of members of the Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12251/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018 - Protected Disclosures)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I treat all correspondence received in relation to the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 seriously and examine the issue based on the substance of the matter not on questions of motivation.  
In relation to allegations of destruction of reports, I requested a report from the Chief of Staff on the actions taken on foot of the allegation. He informed me that the officer named met with the General Officer Commanding the Air Corps. Th...

16. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to provide overtime payments to members of the Defence Forces that recently worked in excess of their contracted hours during Storm Emma; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12714/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): All the available resources and capabilities of the Defence Forces were at the disposal of the principal response agencies in reaction to the recent extreme weather event.  In this regard, the Defence Forces and Civil Defence made a substantial and coordinated contribution to local efforts on a national basis.
Unlike other areas of the Public Service and due to the nature of the duties performed, overtime payments are not availa...

17. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of counties in which the Civil Defence was not deployed or partially deployed during Storm Emma due to lack of training or health and safety concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12715/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018 - Civil Defence Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Department of Defence is charged with the management and development of Civil Defence at national level. The Department provides policy direction, centralised training through the Civil Defence College, administrative support and guidance and centralised procurement of major items of uniform and equipment in support of local authority Civil Defence efforts.
Civil Defence services are delivered through the Civil Defence Offi...

18. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of persons on the waiting list to join the Civil Defence by local authority; the reason for the delay in providing the training to those on the list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12716/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018 - Civil Defence Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Department of Defence is charged with the management and development of Civil Defence at national level. The Department provides policy direction, centralised training through the Civil Defence College, administrative support and guidance and centralised procurement of major items of uniform and equipment in support of local authority Civil Defence efforts.
Civil Defence services are delivered through the Civil Defence Offi...