132. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Defence if he intends to hold a new recruitment drive for the Defence Forces in 2014. (Question 53231/13 asked on 11 Dec 2013)

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 141 together.

I am advised by the Military Authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force, at 31 October 2013, the latest date for which details are available, was 9,222 comprising 7,422 Army, 778 Air Corps and 1,022 Naval Service personnel.

General Service recruitment recommenced in September 2013, from the existing competition panels from which, as of 2 December, there has been an intake of 360 recruits. In addition, 9 Engine Room Artificers for the Naval Service have recently been recruited while the induction of up to 8 Apprentices for the Air Corps is in the process of being completed. As the Permanent Defence Force is currently below the agreed stabilised strength of 9,500, it is my intention that targeted recruitment will continue within the resource envelope allocated to Defence. It is planned to run a new General Service recruitment competition in the first half of 2014. Details will be made available on the Defence Forces website www.military.ie when the competition commences.

With the support of the Chief of Staff and within the resources available, I intend to retain the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government both at home and overseas.