26. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the 2012 restructuring of the Defence Forces will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20385/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Reorganisation)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As part of a major reorganisation of the Defence Forces in 2012, a decision was taken to consolidate the three understrength Army brigades into two full strength brigades. The decision was taken because it was clear that the previous three-brigade structure was no longer viable, particularly when compared to international norms. Key aspects of the reorganisation included the consolidation of understrength units into a smaller ...

27. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if an exit snapshot survey or interview has been carried out by the Defence Forces on members leaving the force; if so, the findings of the survey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20386/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Military life places unique physical and psychological demands on individuals and given the rigors of military life, there is understandably a relatively high level of turnover among Defence Forces personnel. This is not new and the Permanent Defence Force has always had a level of turnover that far exceeds other areas of the public service.
Exit questionnaires are given to personnel as part of the administrative processing of t...

28. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the expected delivery of a fourth new ship, the LÉ George Bernard Shaw, to the Naval Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20293/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Naval Service Vessels)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The White Paper on Defence underpins the ongoing replacement of the Naval Service fleet.
The most significant investment of recent years by the Defence Organisation has been on the procurement of the new Off-Shore Patrol Vessels for the Naval Service. This programme has seen the delivery of three new Naval Service vessels in recent years. The LÉ Samuel Beckett was commissioned in May 2014, LÉ James Joyce was commissioned in Se...

29. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the establishment of a new lands management team for the Curragh Plains to be put in place for 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20383/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Curragh Plains Representative Forum)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 29 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Curragh Forum was established to provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to consider and progress a wide range of issues regarding the use and management of the Curragh Plains.
The most recent meeting of the Forum took place in January 2018. It was attended by representatives of the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochá...

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...

31. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of times the Defence Forces engaged in aid to civil power duties with regard to US military aircraft present at Shannon Airport to date in 2018; the number of personnel involved; the cost of these engagements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20427/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Operations)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for the internal security of the State. 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 assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. On each occasion that the support of the Defence Forces is required, An Garda Síochána issues a ...

32. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of plans to increase the pay of low ranking soldiers of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20291/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 25, 32 and 34 together.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Defence Forces have traditionally been set by reference to, inter alia, relative levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public service. Defence Forces pay is increasing in line with recent public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay. 
Members of the De...

33. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the steps that have been taken or are being taken to address the difficulties in both recruiting and maintaining members of the Defence Forces, including the reintroduction of the service commitment scheme, in view of the loss of trained specialist Defence Forces personnel to the private sector and the restoration of the security duty allowance payable for weekend duties to 2010 levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20211/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 37 and 44 to 46, inclusive, together.
The Defence Forces have a higher level of turnover than other areas of the public service and this is a feature of military organisations internationally.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Permanent Defence Force have traditionally been set by, amongst other things, reference to levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public s...

34. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of issues concerning Defence Forces pay further to recent media reports regarding submissions to the Public Service Pay Commission. (Question 20294/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 25, 32 and 34 together.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Defence Forces have traditionally been set by reference to, inter alia, relative levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public service. Defence Forces pay is increasing in line with recent public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay. 
Members of the De...

35. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will report on the contracts for purchase of arms by his Department, whether one-off or continual, to be used by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20434/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Contracts)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The primary focus for the procurement of defensive equipment, including weaponry and ammunition by the Department of Defence is to maintain the capability of the 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 all missions. Equipment priorities for the Army, Nava...

36. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the details of purchase of Israeli-made drones to be used by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20431/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Equipment)

Deputy Gino Kenny: I would like the Minister of State to comment on the continuing purchase of Israeli drones by the Irish Defence Forces.
 ...

37. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the steps that have been taken to address difficulties regarding recruitment to the Defence Forces in respect of the Public Service Pay Commission report published in May 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20212/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 37 and 44 to 46, inclusive, together.
The Defence Forces have a higher level of turnover than other areas of the public service and this is a feature of military organisations internationally.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Permanent Defence Force have traditionally been set by, amongst other things, reference to levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public s...

38. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will report on his recent visit to UNIFIL, UNDOF and UNTSO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20414/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Overseas Missions)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): During the period 13 to 20 March 2017, I visited the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) and also the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The visit afforded an opportunity to see at first hand the tremendous work done overseas by the Irish Defence Forces in the Middle East and also ...

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 ...

40. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will report on the planned future use of Columb Barracks, Mullingar. (Question 20423/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Army Barracks Closures)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As the Deputy is aware, 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 officia...

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...

43. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason the personnel strength of the Defence Forces was lower at the end of February 2018 than at the end of February 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20384/18 asked on 10 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, as at:
 - 28 February 2018 was 9,057 (Whole Time Equivalent) personnel.
 - 28 February 2017 was 9,070 (Whole Time Equivalent) personnel.
The overall difference in strength in February 2017 and February 2018 is a reduction of 13 personnel. Variations in strength figures are not an unusual occurrence and, particularly in the short term, are ...

44. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel who have exited the Defence Forces, excluding mandatory retirements, to date in 2018; the overall number he anticipates for 2018, excluding mandatory retirements; his views on the fact that the current pay and conditions of the Defences Forces are forcing personnel to consider employment in other areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20426/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 37 and 44 to 46, inclusive, together.
The Defence Forces have a higher level of turnover than other areas of the public service and this is a feature of military organisations internationally.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Permanent Defence Force have traditionally been set by, amongst other things, reference to levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public s...

45. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Defence Forces personnel who have left in each of the years 2000 to 2017 and to date 2018; the average length of the service; if an analysis has taken place to address the problems of retention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20413/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 37 and 44 to 46, inclusive, together.
The Defence Forces have a higher level of turnover than other areas of the public service and this is a feature of military organisations internationally.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Permanent Defence Force have traditionally been set by, amongst other things, reference to levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public s...

46. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel serving in the Permanent Defence Forces to date; the projected enlistment by the end of 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20428/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 37 and 44 to 46, inclusive, together.
The Defence Forces have a higher level of turnover than other areas of the public service and this is a feature of military organisations internationally.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Permanent Defence Force have traditionally been set by, amongst other things, reference to levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public s...

47. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will report on the recent informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20415/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - EU Meetings)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Defence Ministerial Informal Ministerial was held in Sofia on the 4th and 5th of May. The meeting was hosted by Bulgaria who currently hold the Presidency of the EU. 
There were two working sessions over the course of the meeting which was chaired by the High Representative, Ms Federica Mogherini. The two sessions dealt with a range of ongoing developments in relation to EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP); specifi...

48. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the EU counterparts he has met formally in the past six months to discuss Brexit related issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20537/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Brexit Issues)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The outcome of the vote of 23 June 2016 in the UK will have implications across all aspects of the business of the European Union. While the vote does not give rise to fundamental strategic issues for Defence Forces operations or for Ireland’s continuing engagement within the EU in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), it is expected that Brexit will have an impact on future developments in the Defence sphere. 
In my ro...

49. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of employees within his Department in receipt of a salary below the living wage of €11.70 per hour. (Question 20615/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Departmental Staff Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Twenty five civil servants and seven civilian staff, all on an incremental pay scale, are currently employed with my Department on a salary below that specified by the Deputy. In addition, apprentices who are undergoing training are paid apprenticeship rates of pay.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) has overall responsibility for public service pay policy throughout the public sector and the rates applied in...

50. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the disaggregation of salary scales or levels among agency workers within or through his Department. (Question 20621/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Departmental Agencies Staff Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): My Department engages agency staff from time to time where in-house resources are not readily available. Payment for these services is made directly to the agency through whom the staff are engaged. The salary paid to the staff is therefore a matter between the agency and the individual and my Department is not party to the information sought by the Deputy.
 ...