1. 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 20687/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Reorganisation)

Deputy Jack Chambers: I echo the Leas-Cheann Comhairle’s welcome to the delegation.
My question is to ask the Minister of State at the Department of Defence if he will review the 2012 restructuring of the Defence Forces and if he will make a statement on the matter. As the Minister of State knows, we had the first southern brigade headquarters in Cork, the second eastern headquarters in Dublin and the fourth western headquarters in Athlone. That consolidation was done on the basis of claimed e...

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?
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3. 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 20688/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Strength)

Deputy Jack Chambers: What are the reasons the personnel strength of the Defence Forces was lower at the end of February 2018 than at the end of February 2017? Will the Minister of State make a statement on the matter? As he knows, the Defence Forces face a full-blown retention crisis. Despite attempts to enhance recruitment we are haemorrhaging massive numbers. Why does the Minister of State believe that despite the recruitment campaign he is trying to promote, almost the same number of peo...

4. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will address concerns that Ireland’s neutrality is being compromised by participation in Permanent Structured Co-Operation, PESCO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19811/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Permanent Structured Co-operation)

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Will the Minister of State address serious concerns that Ireland’s neutrality is being compromised by participation in PESCO? People are genuinely concerned, including the families of Defence Forces personnel.
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5. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the meetings he has had with European counterparts in respect of PESCO; the timeline for Irish participation in PESCO projects; and the way in which he plans to inform Dáil Éireann on the progress of and details relating to such projects. (Question 20744/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Permanent Structured Co-operation)

Deputy Eamon Ryan: I am interested in knowing the detail of how Ireland is operating within PESCO. I am particularly interested in knowing how we, as a Dáil, can get transparency and openness regarding every aspect of the agreement, specific projects, budget and Council meetings and how we will integrate with NATO. I am keen that the Minister of State should set out the means by which Deputies can get clarity regarding what is happening. We regularly hear him refer to Ireland’s neutrality but...

6. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to stop the purchase of Israeli-made drones by the Defence Forces. (Question 20430/18 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.
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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.
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8. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the details of contracts with Israel for the purchase of arms to be used by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20432/18 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.
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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.
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10. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to the fact that the Attorney General is examining the possibility of settling pending cervical smear claims following the successful legal action of a person (details supplied), if a similar approach is being taken regarding outstanding Lariam cases in view of the successful legal action in the first Lariam case before the courts in 2017. (Question 20410/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Medicinal Products)

Deputy Clare Daly: The Minister of State is aware that in December last year the State settled the first case for Lariam damage brought by a member of the Defence Forces. No witnesses were called and there was no evidence to defend the case. The man was attacked and it took him four long years before he got the settlement. In light of the decision of the Taoiseach to request the Attorney General to consider withdrawing from the legal actions in the cervical cancer cases, has the Minister of S...

12. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the purpose of the presence of three Royal Navy patrol and training ships in Haulbowline on 27 and 28 March 2018. (Question 20411/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Foreign Naval Vessels)

Deputy Clare Daly: This question relates to the presence of three British Royal Navy patrol and training ships in Haulbowline in March. It is part of a thread of visits involving vessels from foreign navies, including NATO warships. We had a visit from HMS Illustrious, an Invincible class aircraft carried which was involved in the Iraq war, and, in 2016, a flotilla of NATO warships was present during the centenary celebration for the 1916 Rising, which was quite ironic. Why are we allowing Ir...

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.
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1. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach further to the reply from the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to Parliamentary Question No. 21 of 25 January 2018, the status of the proposal to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025. (Question 19091/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Departmental Strategies)

The Taoiseach: Plans to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025 are advancing. As I have previously stated, that does not necessarily mean a doubling of agencies, embassies, staff or budget – though we are and will be expanding these where appropriate. It means taking the steps necessary to double our impact around the world. The exercise will enhance Ireland’s visibility globally, extending our international influence. It will position us for trade and investment growth in new and existin...

2. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach the overall number of staff employed in his Department in 2018 compared with 2017. (Question 19096/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Departmental Staff Data)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 2 to 4, inclusive, together.
There are currently 207.5 whole-time equivalent staff working in my Department. This compares with 203.5 whole-time equivalent staff on 31 December 2017.
My Department is structured around seven main work areas. The breakdown of posts currently in each of these areas is as follows: 29 posts in the international, EU and Northern Ireland division; 25 posts in the economic division; 27 posts in the Government secretariat...

3. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will report on staffing levels in his Department. (Question 19723/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Departmental Staff Data)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 2 to 4, inclusive, together.
There are currently 207.5 whole-time equivalent staff working in my Department. This compares with 203.5 whole-time equivalent staff on 31 December 2017.
My Department is structured around seven main work areas. The breakdown of posts currently in each of these areas is as follows: 29 posts in the international, EU and Northern Ireland division; 25 posts in the economic division; 27 posts in the Government secretariat...

4. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach the number of staff employed in his Department in the past 12 months. (Question 20061/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Departmental Staff Data)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 2 to 4, inclusive, together.
There are currently 207.5 whole-time equivalent staff working in my Department. This compares with 203.5 whole-time equivalent staff on 31 December 2017.
My Department is structured around seven main work areas. The breakdown of posts currently in each of these areas is as follows: 29 posts in the international, EU and Northern Ireland division; 25 posts in the economic division; 27 posts in the Government secretariat...

5. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his visit to Newry on 30 April 2018. (Question 19720/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

6. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his visit to Warrenpoint on 30 April 2018; and if he held meetings there. (Question 19721/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

7. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his visit to a school (details supplied). (Question 19722/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

8. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent meetings in Newry, County Down. (Question 19856/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

9. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent visit to Warrenpoint port on 30 April 2018. (Question 19914/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

10. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he met the DUP and Sinn Féin leaders when he visited Northern Ireland on 30 April 2018; and the issues they discussed. (Question 19987/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

11. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his visit to Northern Ireland on 30 April 2018. (Question 20057/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

19. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on the findings of the independent review of orchestral services in RTÉ; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20289/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - National Orchestras)

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Since the foundation of Radio Éireann, long before RTÉ existed, the national broadcaster has had responsibility for both the symphony and concert orchestras. There seems to be some doubt about their future. What are the Minister’s views on the findings of the independent review and its proposals? The proposals relate directly to her Department and would have very significant financial consequences for it if they were to be implemented.
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20. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if preservation orders will be issued for 1916 buildings (details supplied). (Question 20438/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - National Monuments)

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: According to the national monuments legislation, a national monument is a national monument regardless of whether a Minister states it to be so. Therefore, the GPO is a national monument. It has never been officially declared one but, if it came under threat, it would be the moral and legal duty of the Minister to issue a preservation order to protect it. Her Department has stated clearly and officially that the Moore Street battlefield site is a national monument, yet s...