Defence Questions – Defence Forces resources

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Dáil Issues, Defence, Justice and Defence

To ask the Minister for Defence if a stock-take of unused Defence Forces property has been conducted; the amount of that property that has been disposed of to other State bodies and by way of private sale; the plans that exist for the remainder; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 14th January, 2015.

Ref No: 1205/15 Lottery: 2 Proof: 2

REPLY

A review and update of my Department’s property portfolio is carried out on a regular basis. Where properties have been identified as being surplus to military requirements procedures are put in place for their disposal.

In accordance with Government policy, the normal procedure is that all properties for disposal are in the first instance offered for sale to other State bodies and Government agencies. Where no interest is registered from the State sector the properties are generally then put on the open market to be sold by public tender or public auction.

My Department has been engaged on an ongoing programme of barrack consolidation since 1998. This has resulted in 14 Military Barracks closing.

Sales have been fully completed on 9 of these properties. Of those sales seven properties (including part of Longford Barracks) have been sold within the public sector and two have been sold to private individuals. The sale of a further three Barracks (Castlebar, Lifford and Clonmel and a part of Longford) to the public sector has been agreed and are expected to be completed within weeks.

Of the two remaining properties, Magee Barracks is expected to be put up for public auction in quarter 2 of 2015 while Mullingar Barracks is currently being used by An Garda Síochána, the Customs Service and a number of local organisations including Westmeath GAA. Discussions are also ongoing with a number of interested parties regarding the future use of Mullingar Barracks.

In addition, a number of other properties including married quarters and Reserve Defence Force premises have also been sold.

In the case of married quarters which are outside of military installations, the majority were sold to the occupiers / members of the Defence Forces.

Over 20 Reserve Defence Force premises have been sold since 1998. Three were sold to local authorities, and one to a State agency with the remaining sold to private individuals.

There are a number of other smaller properties remaining which are being prepared for future disposal.

 

Simon Coveney T.D.

Minister for Defence

To ask the Minister for Defence if he is satisfied with existing arrangements between his Department and the Departments of Justice and Equality and Foreign Affairs and Trade regarding the presence of foreign military aircraft on Irish territory; his plans to recommend a more active role for Defence Forces personnel in relation to protecting our neutrality; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– DEPUTY CLARE DALY .

REPLY

Minister for Defence, (Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D.);

Primary responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft in Ireland rests with the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade in accordance with the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952.

I understand from my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade ,that arrangements under which permission is granted for foreign military aircraft to land at Irish airports are governed by strict conditions.  These include stipulations that the aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and must not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question must not form part of military exercises or operations. Requests to permit the landing of foreign military aircraft are considered by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade on the basis of these conditions. Permission is not granted for the conduct of foreign military operations in Irish airspace.

Separately, there is ongoing liaison between my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality regarding security matters generally. This includes such matters as the Defence Forces deployments to Shannon Air port that occur in response to Ai d to the Civil Power requests for support from An Garda Síochána who have primary responsibility for the protection of the internal security of the State.

I am satisfied with existing arrangements and I have no plans to recommend a more active role for the Defence Forces.

Ref No: 1319/15

To ask the Minister for Defence his views acknowledging the serious mistake and breach of our neutrality by successive Governments sending Irish troops to Afghanistan, making us complicit in war crimes and torture; the reason that mistake is now being compounded by a continued presence of Irish troops post the ending of the ISAF mission; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

Ref No: 1318/15 Lottery: 3

REPLY

The deployment of Defence Forces personnel to the UN mandated NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014, had no implications for Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality.

The service of the Defence Forces with ISAF represented a further example of Ireland’s commitment to participation in UN-mandated peace operations, a long-standing and key foreign policy principle for Ireland. The work carried out by Irish personnel deployed with ISAF represented an important contribution to that mission.

On 09 December 2014, the Government approved the participation of seven members of the Defence Forces with the follow on Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan, which commenced on 01 January 2015. RSM is a non-combat training mission designed to support and develop the capacity of the Afghan National Defence Forces so as they can ensure the security of the Afghan population and its national governmental institutions following the withdrawal of the ISAF mission.

The deployment of members of the Defence Forces in a training role is consistent with the provisions of Section 3(1) (b) and 3(1) (d) of the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006. The United Nations Security Council has welcomed the establishment of the Resolute Support Mission.

SIMON COVENEY, T.D.

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

QUESTION NO: 13

To ask the Minister for Defence the number of occasions and cost of Defence Forces personnel being involved in ATCP duties at Shannon airport in 2014; his plans to change same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– DEPUTY CLARE DALY

REPLY

An Garda Síochána has the primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) which, in practice, means to assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so.

Since 2003, the Gardaí have requested support from the Defence Forces at Shannon Airport and in 2014 there were a total of 372 such deployments. The costs of these operations, which include Security Duty Allowance, rations and fuel were €180,913 in 2014.

I am satisfied with existing arrangements and I have no plans to recommend any changes .

Simon Coveney, T.D.

Minister f or Defence

QUESTION NO: 14

To ask the Minister for Defence in view of the human suffering and human rights abuses taking place in Darfur and in Congo DRC, if this is an area where Irish troops could make a real difference in terms of peace-keeping missions.

– DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

Ref No: 1206/15 Lottery: 11 Proof: 11

REPLY

The Defence Forces have a long association with peacekeeping missions in Africa. The work carried out by Irish personnel deployed with such missions represents an important contribution to the peace and security of the region. Ireland is currently contributing four personnel to the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Ireland has participated in MONUSCO since its establishment in 2010. Prior to that, from 2001 to 2010, Defence Forces personnel served with the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the first UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In common with all other UN members, Ireland received a general request in 2007 for a range of capabilities for the United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). However, the Defence Forces did not have the required assets (heavy lift equipment etc). Ireland offered to nominate up to eight (8) personnel to staff appointments at the Force HQ. However, the offer was not taken up by the UN at the time.

With regard to any future deployments of Defence Forces personnel overseas, Ireland receives requests, from time to time, in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis. However, due to Ireland’s own current level of commitment in overseas peacekeeping operations, notably to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, we are not in a position to make any significant commitment to other missions at this time. The current contribution of some 426 personnel to overseas missions reflects the Government’s continued commitment to our responsibilities in the area of international peace and security.

SIMON COVENEY, T.D.

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

QUESTION NO: 17

To ask the Minister for Defence the position regarding the promised review of pay and remuneration for the Defence Forces; and if improvements are likely in the near future.

DEPUTY CLARE DALY.

Ref No: 1208/15 Lottery: 14 Proof: 14

REPLY

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts of 2009-2013 and the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2016 (Haddington Road Agreement) define current pay policy. In the Haddington Road Agreement the Government reaffirmed its commitment that public service pay and any related issues will not be revisited over the lifetime of the Agreement, subject to compliance with the terms of the Agreement. Crucially, there was no cut to the basic pay of any enlisted personnel under that Agreement.

I presume that the Deputy is referring to the Government Decision on the Department of Expenditure and Reform’s Review of Allowances and Premium Payments which recognised that there are possible weaknesses in the pay structures applicable in the Defence Forces as these structures have evolved over very many years and have become increasingly complex. It was therefore decided that a review of the overall pay structures for the Defence Forces is merited, in the medium term, to ensure that the pay structure is appropriate and cost effective for a modern military force.

It is my intention that such a review of pay structures will take place after the reviews of Security Duty Allowance and Technical Pay, currently being conducted as part of the Defence Sector Action Plan under the Croke Park Agreement, have been completed.

It is of course also open to the Representative Associations of the members of the PDF, subject to the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme and the Haddington Road Agreement, to avail of the mechanisms in place should they wish to pursue any particular concerns in relation to the pay and conditions of their members.

SIMON COVENEY,T.D

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE