11. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to introduce flexible working time and shift arrangements to improve the work-life balance for Defence Forces members in particular for those who have family commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20437/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The achievement of an effective balance between the demands of the workplace and the home is important for the long-term welfare and development of the Defence Forces. Family-friendly working conditions and operational effectiveness are both possible. The Defence Forces will continue to develop appropriate work-life balance initiatives to assist personnel whilst ensuring that defence capability is maintained. A range of initiati...

16. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to change the need for compulsory medical examinations for serving Defence Forces members over 40 years of age; the rationale for compulsory medical examinations for persons over 40 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20435/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Medical Services)

Taoiseach and Minister for Defence (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I can assure the Deputy that the health and safety of the men and women of the Defence Forces is a high priority for me. Given the robust nature of military life and the unique physical and psychological demands it places on individuals, it is necessary that the members of the Defence Forces are physically and mentally prepared to meet the challenges of all military operations. The State has a duty of care to ensure that each individual ...

30. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to introduce technical apprenticeships for aircraft maintenance; the number of apprenticeships the Defence Forces offer across disciplines; his further plans to increase this number or introduce more in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20436/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Training)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Currently the only Apprenticeships within the Defence Forces are Apprentice Aircraft Technicians in the Air Corps. Aircraft Technicians provide the maintenance and servicing of Air Corps aircraft, their engines, systems, equipment and weapons. Aircraft Trainee Technicians hold the rank of Apprentice during their training. 
Competitions for the Aircraft Trainee Technician Programme are generally run on an annual basis and succes...

64. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the recruitment targets for the 2018 intake in view of the opening of RDF recruitment to take place in April 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10196/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Defence Forces Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The White Paper on Defence (2015) provides for a Permanent Defence Force (PDF) strength of 9,500 personnel and the Government is committed to ensuring that the PDF reaches this strength level. In this context, the Government has ensured that there is sufficient funding in place to provide for a full strength of 9,500 PDF personnel. 
The PDF has a higher turnover level than other elements of the Public Service and this is not a ...

67. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the implications of the ruling of the European Committee of Social Rights to allow the Defence Forces troops affiliate to a trade union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10197/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 67 together.
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.
In a non-binding ruling, the Committee has concluded that prohibiting military personnel from the right to strike was not in ...

48. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of qualified physical training instructors the Defence Forces has to oversee annual fitness tests, recruit induction fitness tests and general physical training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3655/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - Defence Forces Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 50 together.
Application for General Service Recruitment to the Defence Forces in conducted on-line and all correspondence with applicants is conducted via e-mail. Candidates must successfully complete fitness testing, online psychometric testing and interview in order to progress through the competition. Following these stages of the recruitment process, successful applicants may be pla...

49. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the timeframe for the full implementation of the White Paper on Defence; when it will be fully completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3656/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - White Paper on Defence)

Taoiseach and Minister for Defence (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The 2015 White Paper on Defence sets the defence policy agenda over a ten year planning horizon and encompasses all work carried out by the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces and Civil Defence. It comprehends the Government’s policy on defence of the State from armed aggression, the defence contribution to domestic security, the defence contribution to international peace and security and a broad range of other “non-security” roles...

50. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the length of time it takes between a potential member submitting the online application to join the Defence Forces and when they formally begin training; the steps being taken to speed up the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3657/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - Defence Forces Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 50 together.
Application for General Service Recruitment to the Defence Forces in conducted on-line and all correspondence with applicants is conducted via e-mail. Candidates must successfully complete fitness testing, online psychometric testing and interview in order to progress through the competition. Following these stages of the recruitment process, successful applicants may be pla...

51. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces that are in receipt of FIS and HAP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3658/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The circumstances surrounding an application for Family Income Supplement or Housing Assistance Payment, is a private matter between the applicant and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection or Local Authority, as appropriate. Various factors can give rise to such claims, with household income and the number of dependents being key variables.
It should be noted that despite the difficult economic environment w...

52. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the employment protections in place for RDF members to allow them to attend training and courses which overlap with their employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3659/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - Defence Forces Reserve Training)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe) (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 63 together.
 The primary function of training and education in both the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force is to develop and maintain capabilities necessary to enable personnel to fulfil the roles laid down by Government. The scheduling of training in the Defence Forces, including the Reserve, is underpinned by an analysis of training needed to meet ...

45. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the timeframe for Defence Forces pay restoration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53155/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Deputy Brendan Ryan: For too long, members of the Defence Forces have been treated like second-class citizens in the context of our public service workers. The Defence Forces have always been our last line in service provision. If the weather is too bad for commuting, the Army will be called in. In times past, the Army even cleared rubbish off our streets when industrial action led to environmental damage. The Defence Forces have never been treated on par with the rest of the public sector. ...

63. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on strategies within the Defence Forces to combat mental health challenges of personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52903/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Defence Forces)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I can assure the Deputy that the health and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces is a high priority for me. The Defence Forces is fully aware of the importance of attention to mental health.
Mental health services are part of the range of medical and non-medical services provided so as to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are medically fit to undertake the duties assigned to them. Also, to treat any medical co...

64. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if there is a timetable for Defence Forces pay restoration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52900/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Deputy Paul Kehoe: I propose to take Questions Nos. 51, 57, 64, 70 and 83 together.
As I said earlier in reply to a previous question, the pay of the Permanent Defence Force, similar to other areas within the public service, was reduced during the financial crisis. The reductions in pay were on a graduated scale with higher percentages being deducted from those on higher earnings. This action was one of the measures that it was necessary to take to stabilise the financial situation which faced...

70. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if there will be an increase in the duty allowance or payments to Defence Forces personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52901/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Deputy Paul Kehoe: I propose to take Questions Nos. 51, 57, 64, 70 and 83 together.
As I said earlier in reply to a previous question, the pay of the Permanent Defence Force, similar to other areas within the public service, was reduced during the financial crisis. The reductions in pay were on a graduated scale with higher percentages being deducted from those on higher earnings. This action was one of the measures that it was necessary to take to stabilise the financial situation which faced...

71. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the effective strength of the Reserve Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52902/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Defence Forces Reserve Strength)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The White Paper on Defence confirms that the primary role of the Reserve is to augment the Permanent Defence Force in times of crisis. In non-crisis situations, the main focus will be on training to prepare for this role. The Government has also assigned a formal role to the Reserve of contributing to state ceremonial events. The Government appreciates the service of the members of the Reserve and the White Paper on Defence is ...

79. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he is examining strategies to reopen barracks along the border in the event of a hard Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52904/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Army Barracks)

Deputy Declan Breathnach: The roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence include the provision of aid to the civil power, that is, providing assistance and support to the Garda Síochána when requested to do so, and assisting the Revenue Commissioners in the carrying out of their duties. We in Louth are fortunate to have Aiken Barracks and Gormanston Camp, but many of the Border counties have been denuded of Army barracks. My question refers to the need to have a Defence...

34. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the training exercise which recently took place in Sweden and the outcomes from this training in respect of a new air defence system; the cost of the system; the threats against which this system is directed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44047/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Defence Forces Training)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Defence Forces attended a live firing practice of the RBS 70 surface to air missile system in Karlskoga, Sweden in May 2017. The main purpose of the live firing shoot, which involved the firing of Defence Forces RBS 70 missiles, was to validate the training and capability of on island Ground Based Air Defence training.
These RBS 70 missiles cannot be test fired on island due to firing range restrictions. Participation in l...

44. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces who have sought to buy their discharge since January 2016; the reason for this; the response he and senior defence force personnel made to this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44049/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Defence Forces Strength)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 53 together.
Since January 2016, 446 enlisted personnel have been discharged by purchase (as of 31 August 2017). Almost half of this figure, that is 205, were Recruits. Discharge by Purchase is governed by Defence Forces Regulation A10, which sets out the payment scale in relation to such discharges.
When assessing issues such as turnover of personnel, cognisance must be made of the fact...

52. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will report on the results of campaigns to encourage the recruitment of more women into the Defence Forces; if these campaigns are proving successful; his plans to continue these campaigns into 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44048/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Defence Forces Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women in the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities. This is underlined by a commitment in the Programme for Government to increase the level of female participation in the Defence Forces. A number of specific initiatives have been implemented to increase the level of female participation. These ...

69. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on reports that proper security clearance has not been given to new recruits in the Defence Forces; his plans to rectify this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44045/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Defence Forces Personnel)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Security vetting, which is a matter for the military authorities, has a number of layers and is conducted in conjunction with an Garda Síochána. The process has changed and modernised in recent years and is kept under ongoing review.
The Military Authorities have kept me appraised of any changes in procedure and have confirmed to me that the security vetting procedures in place are both necessary and appropriate. For operation...

71. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the items included in budget 2018 which would be of direct benefit to the salaries and standards of living of Defence Forces personnel and their families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44046/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 71 together. 
Budget 2018 includes an increased provision of €25 million for 2018, and an additional €98 million for capital expenditure out to 2021. This reflects the Government’s commitment to defence and to our Defence Forces.
The 2018 pay allocation of some €509 million provides for the pay and allowances for a full strength Permanent Defence Force of up to 9,500 personnel, 550 civil...

37. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of legal advisers that are employed by the Defence Forces; the cost of training such legal advisers; if the said personnel are required to reimburse the State for the training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32481/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The role of Legal Officers employed by the Defence Forces is to advise the Chief of Staff on legal matters pertaining to the Defence Forces. Separately, legal advice for the Minister is provided by the Office of the Attorney General. I am informed that there are currently a total of seven (7) Legal Officers employed in the Legal Service Branch of the Defence Forces. It is difficult to itemise training costs specifically attri...

39. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to implement the recommendations of the motion taken on 28 June 2017 and agreed by Dáil Éireann regarding the drug lariam. (Question 32345/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Defence Forces Medicinal Products)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As I stated in my reply to the Private Members’ Motion which was before the Dáil on 28 June, fundamentally the use of anti-malarial drugs is a medical matter that should be decided by qualified medical professionals. In the Defence Forces these are decisions for highly qualified Medical Officers having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual member of the Defence Forces. I have already indicated t...

42. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of military trials that were held within the past two years; the number of these trials that were subject to judicial review and or appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32482/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Defence Forces Courts-Martial)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Defence Act 1954, as amended, provides that members of the Defence Forces are liable to military law. The military law system reflects that of the criminal law system of the State in that it has its own prosecutor, military judge, courts martial system and administrator. These appointees are independent in the performance of their functions and I have no role to play in relation to military trials. The Court of Appeal Act...

57. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to introduce legislation to ensure employers allow members of the Reserve Defence Forces time off for training in view of the important work they do for the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32346/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Defence Forces Reserve Training)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Members of the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve are volunteers who undertake training in their spare time. In order to facilitate the voluntary nature of Reserve Service, training continues to be organised both in and out of normal working hours and at weekends. Reserve training is also organised during academic and traditional holiday periods, in order to maximise attendance of Reserve personnel. The focus will continue t...