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...

13. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of his Department’s preparations for Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20213/18 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. 
Structur...

14. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the supports provided for members of the Defence Forces who undergo traumatic experiences while serving on UN mandated missions. (Question 20397/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Taoiseach and Minister for Defence (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I can assure the Deputy that the Defence Forces are fully aware of the importance of providing robust supports for personnel who require them, whatever the reason.
A range of medical and non-medical services are provided to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are medically fit to undertake the duties assigned to them and to treat any medical condition that may arise.
As a matter of policy, psychiatric and psychological services, as well ...

15. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Defence Forces involvement in peacekeeping missions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20290/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Commemorative Events)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): This year marks significant anniversaries in relation to Ireland’s United Nations peacekeeping role. It will be the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s first participation in a United Nations peacekeeping mission and it is the 40th anniversary of our first deployment to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.
Commemorative events are being planned to mark this year’s important milestones in the history of Ireland’s participation in Un...

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 ...

17. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to scrap or lower intelligence tests which are used to select recruits to the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20387/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I am aware of recent media reports that Psychometric Tests may be scrapped for Defence Forces recruitment and that the Department of Defence is “looking at dropping or lowering the bar on psychometric testing”. This is factually incorrect and misleading.
The Defence Forces utilise Psychometric Tests, as distinct from intelligence tests, during the recruitment process. They have advised that, according to the latest research, psy...

18. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to mark the 40th anniversary of Ireland’s participation in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20424/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Commemorative Events)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): This year marks significant anniversaries in relation to Ireland’s UN peacekeeping role. It will be the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s first participation in a UN peacekeeping mission and it is the 40th anniversary of the first deployment of Defence Force personnel to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.
Ireland has made a huge commitment to supporting peace and security in the Middle East region and has participated in the UN...

19. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Defence Forces personnel deployments both nationally and in County Louth with reference to Storm Emma. (Question 20425/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Deployment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): In accordance with the Framework for Major Emergency Management, primary responsibility for responding to a severe weather event rests with the three designated Principal Response Agencies, namely the relevant Local Authority, An Garda Siochána, and the Health Service Executive. The Defence Forces provide the fullest possible assistance to the appropriate Lead Department in the event of a natural disaster or an emergency in its...

20. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of progress on items included in the work programme of the Curragh forum for 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20382/18 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...

21. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he is satisfied that the public and the Houses of the Oireachtas were sufficiently informed in regard to overseas missions (details supplied) as to the make-up of the Defence Forces contingents serving on those missions in view of the fact that in cases in which motions pursuant to section 2 of the Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1960 were passed approving the despatch of Defence Forces members on overseas missions did not refer to Army Ranger Wing involvement. (Question 20412/18 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...

22. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the position regarding a review of pay and the other issues PDFORRA were seeking to have through the conciliation process regarding the terms and conditions for members of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20429/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): 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 Defence Forces received increases in pay in 2017 under the L...

23. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the review of the conciliation and arbitration scheme; and when it will be completed. (Question 20295/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Representative Organisations)

Taoiseach and Minister for Defence (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Conciliation and Arbitration scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force provides a formal mechanism for the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations, that is PDFORRA and RACO, to engage with the Official side.
Having regard to commitments made under pay agreements, members of the Permanent Defence Force can make representations in relation to their pay and conditions of service through their representative bodies. 
T...

24. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the purchase of new aircraft for the Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20292/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Air Corps 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 Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.
The White Paper on Defence provides for the replacement of the current Cessna fleet with three larger aircraft which will be equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acq...

25. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to improve the pay and conditions of Defence Forces members. (Question 20422/18 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...

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...

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...