Defence Questions

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Defence Questions

Jul
2017
12

Dáil Issues, Defence

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will begin the process of withdrawing Defence Forces personnel from the UNDOF mission in the Golan Heights in view of the recent comments by a person ( * details supplied) in view of the fact their presence is being used by Israel to legitimise its annexation.   – DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 11TH JULY, 2017.

Ref No: 32347/17

* We are always amazed that there is still someone who says we will return the Golan. The Golan is ours and the Golan will always be ours.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – June 28th 2017

REPLY

I propose to take Question No 34,35,55 and 68 together.

The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established on 31 May 1974 by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 350 (1974), following the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights in May 1974.

UNDOF was established to:
· Maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria;
· Supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces; and
· Supervise the areas of separation and limitation, as provided in the May 1974 Agreement on Disengagement.

Since 1974, the mandate of UNDOF has been renewed every six months, most recently in June 2017. In a recent report on UNDOF, the UN Secretary-General stated that the presence of UNDOF in the area continues to be essential. He recommended that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNDOF for a further period of six months, until 31 December 2017. The Syrian Arab Republic gave its assent to the proposed extension and Israel also expressed its agreement.

A contingent of the Permanent Defence Force has been deployed to UNDOF on the Golan Heights since 2013. The contingent operates in the role of a Quick Reaction Force. The current contingent, the 55th Infantry Group, deployed to UNDOF in early April 2017 and the next contingent is due to deploy in October 2017.

I had the great privilege of visiting Irish personnel based in the Middle East in March 2017. I met with UNDOF Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Shanker Menon of India and Irish personnel deployed to the mission. It was a valuable opportunity to be briefed on the mission and see at first hand the challenges facing troops in the mission area.

On 26 April 2017, while representing Ireland at an informal meeting of Defence Ministers in Malta, I met with the UN Under Secretary General for Peackeeping, Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix. With regard to the UNDOF mission, we were in agreement that the presence of the UNDOF mission remains an important element in ensuring the continuing ceasefire between Israel and Syria and in the wider Middle East Region. The valuable contribution that the Defence Forces are making to this mission was acknowledged. The UN Under Secretary General took note of the security concerns I outlined regarding the return of troops to the Area of Separation.

Pending the full return of UNDOF to the area of separation, UNDOF has continued to maintain credible presence in the Golan in line with its mandate. On 14 November 2016, UNDOF completed the initial phase of the incremental return of the mission to Camp Faouar on the Syrian side of the Area of Separation where Fijian and Nepalese troops are now based. The incremental return to the area of separation will be considered in the light of the security assessment and other required assurances.

As with all missions, developments in the UNDOF area of operation are kept under ongoing review.

MINISTER OF STATE AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE (PAUL KEHOE, T.D . )
QUESTION NO: 47

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to parliamentary question number 262 of 30 March 2017 and the clarification of 13 June 2017 (details supplied), the year in which the Defence Forces was first of the view that the specific reactions of anxiety, restlessness or confusion if declared by a member of the Defence Forces to be present, would necessitate withdrawal of mefloquine.

DEPUTY CLARE DALY .

Ref No: 32348/17

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 11TH JULY, 2017.

REPLY
The State Claims Agency are currently managing fifty five claims which have been made by members and former members of the Defence Forces, who allege personal injury as a result of their consumption of mefloquine (Lariam). The first was scheduled to be heard in the High Court on 4 July 2017 and has now been adjourned to 3 November 2017. The question raised by the Deputy would engage me on matters that relate to the litigation. It is therefore inappropriate for me to comment on the matter.

MINISTER OF STATE AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE (PAUL KEHOE T.D.)
MINISTER OF STATEM

PQ32348/17
QUESTION NO: 67

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the contact or assistance planned by his department to the July fuchsia appeal operated by an organisation (details supplied) to address homelessness amongst former members of the Defence Forces..
DEPUTY CLARE DALY.
the Organisation of National Ex Service Personnel

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 11TH JULY, 2017.

REPLY

The Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (O.N.E.) is an organisation dedicated to looking after the welfare of ex-service personnel of the Irish Defence Forces. It provides accommodation to homeless, elderly or disabled members in need of such domestic accommodation and shelter as well as other assistance and advice as required. O.N.E. has accommodation in Smithfield, Dublin (Brú na bhFiann with 30 places), Athlone (7 places) and Letterkenny (7 places), a drop-in centre in Limerick and an advice centre in Dundalk.

O.N.E. has enjoyed the long standing official recognition of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces. Officials from my Department hold regular meetings with O.N.E., and the other recognised veterans’ organisations, at which issues of concern to their members are discussed. Under the terms of a Service Level Agreement with O.N.E., and as part of the supports currently offered to veterans, my Department provides an annual subvention, currently €44,000, to support the general overheads of the organisation.

I provide support by attendance at specific events whenever I can. I had pleasure in attending the launch of O.N.E.’s annual Fuchsia fundraising appeal on Wednesday 28th June 2017. The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, launched the appeal which will continue throughout the month of July. I am advised that Defence Forces units and installations throughout the country undertake fundraising in support of the work of O.N.E. on behalf of veterans. The military authorities encourage such fundraising as an illustration of the solidarity and bonds that exists between veterans and serving personnel.
The Defence Organisation and I are committed to continued engagement with O.N.E. into the future.
MINISTER OF STATE AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE (PAUL KEHOE, T.D . )

PQ 32350/17

QUESTION NO: 70

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will consider resolving the legacy issue of Naval Service veterans of the LÉ Cliona in view of the proposed changes in legislation to facilitate the awarding of medals to the men of A company that took part in the siege of Jadotville..
DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 11TH JULY, 2017.

REPLY

Both of these events were separate and distinct and were commemorated separately and appropriately having regard to the individual circumstances

of each.

Following a review by the military authorities into this incident, I presented Scrolls of Commendation to former crew members of the LÉ Cliona at a ceremony held on board the L.É. Niamh in Dublin on 1 September 2016, in formal recognition of their brave and decisive actions in bringing a serious fire on board the ship under control. Later that month, I also unveiled a plaque at the Naval Service Headquarters in Haulbowline commemorating the ship’s company of the LÉ Cliona for their team effort in ensuring the safe return of the ship to port following this fire. I am satisfied that the ceremonies which took place in 2016 fully reflect both my own and the Defence Forces appreciation of the great effort made by the crew of the LÉ Cliona on 29 May 1962.
The former Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, T.D. and I recently announced that the surviving members of the 35th Infantry Battalion A company, who fought at the Siege of Jadotville in 1961, would be awarded medals. This medal, which will be issued on behalf of the State, is to recognise their collective bravery during this unique incident. Planning is under way for a medals ceremony later this year.

The decision taken to honour those men who took part in the Siege of Jadotville is an exceptional step which builds upon my decision last year to award a Unit citation and gives full recognition to their performance during the Siege.

MINISTER OF STATE AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE (PAUL KEHOE, T.D . )

PQ Ref No: 32351/17

QUESTION NO: _ 71

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if psychological or neurological damage as a result of being prescribed lariam mefloquine while serving in the Defence Forces is an accepted ground upon which an Army disability pension will be paid; and if not, the reason therefor. .

DEPUTY CLARE DALY

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 11TH JULY, 2017.

REPLY

Under the Army Pensions Acts 1923-1980 a disability pension or gratuity may, following retirement,

be granted to a former member of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) for permanent disablement due to a wound or injury attributable to military service (whether at home or abroad) or to a disease which is secondary to an injury, or is attributable to, or aggravated by, overseas service with a United Nations Force.
The criteria for awarding a disability pension or gratuity are based on;
(a) whether the applicant is suffering from a permanent disablement due to wound/injury which is attributable to his military service at home or abroad, or to a disease which is secondary to an injury, or is attributable to or aggravated by service with a United Nations Force abroad,
and
(b) the percentage degree of disablement from which the applicant is suffering.
The award of a disability pension or gratuity depends on the findings of the Army Pensions Board. The rate of disability pension depends on the degree of disablement as assessed by that Board.
The Army Pensions Board is an independent statutory body consisting of a chairman and two ordinary members (both doctors). The Chairman and one doctor are civilians and the other member is a serving Army doctor. The Board’s principal function is to investigate applications for pensions, allowances and gratuities under the Acts and to report to the Minister thereon.
The Board determines the question of attributability to military service in each case; assesses the degree of disability; and reports its findings to the Department, which acts on the Board’s findings including the grant or refusal of appropriate benefits. The findings of the Army Pensions Board in regard to ‘attributability’ are final and conclusive and binding. However, there is provision for review of awards or refusals subject to certain conditions, for example if additional relevant information has subsequently become available.
The Board assesses applications on a case by case basis and makes its findings based on an examination of the applicant and their medical records, and on the individual circumstances of the case. The Board can, on a case by case basis, decide to seek additional medical opinion if this is considered necessary.
To date, the Board has not made a finding of a disablement of psychological or neurological damage as a result of being prescribed lariam mefloquine while serving in the PDF .
MINISTER OF STATE AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE (PAUL KEHOE, T.D . )

PQ 32349/17

QUESTION NO: 856

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Defence Forces personnel to whom Malarone was issued between 2 February 2006 and 16 July 2013.
DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 11th July, 2017.

Ref No: 32993/17 Proof: 900

REPLY

Minister for State at the Department of Defence (Mr. Paul Keogh, T.D.):

I have been advised by the Military Authorities that to collate the figures requested by the Deputy would require a Medical Officer(s) to examine the medical files of all Defence Force personnel that travelled to malaria prone areas within the period of time specified.

Due to the scope of the request and the demands it would place on already limited resources, I regret that it is not possible to provide the information requested by the Deputy.

PQ 32993/17