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PQ - Defence

To ask the Minister for Defence the number of occasions in April, May and June of this year that the presence of Defence Forces personnel at Shannon Airport was requested by An Garda Síochána in relation to visiting military aircraft; if he will provide the countries of origin of these aircraft; if members of either the Defence Forces or An Garda Síochána carried out searches of these aircraft; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- MICK WALLACE.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON WEDNESDAY, 18TH JUNE, 2014

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.

There is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters. The Defence Forces have deployed personnel to Shannon Airport, in response to requests for support from An Garda Síochána, since 5th February 2003.

There were 32 security deployments carried out by the Defence Forces at Shannon Airport in April of this year, 35 in May and 16 up to the 12th of June last.  The length of each such deployment and the number of relevant aircraft that land and take off during each deployment can vary.  For example, if a single aircraft is on the ground for an extended period, perhaps overnight, or over a number of days, this would involve more than one deployment of troops as each shift is generally of 12 hours duration

.

The Defence Forces have no responsibility for searching foreign Military aircraft that land at Shannon and there is no record kept by the Military of the country of origin of each aircraft.  I understand these records are kept by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as foreign Military aircraft are provided with diplomatic clearance to land in Ireland by that Department.

With regard to inspections of aircraft being carried out by An Garda Síochána, I would advise that this is a matter that should be addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality but my understanding is that An Garda Síochána do not carry out searches of foreign Military aircraft.

To ask the Minister for Defence if he will publish the technical examination which assessed a selection of dwellings at the Curragh Camp; if he will expand the assessment to include all residential units in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

-MICK WALLACE.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON WEDNESDAY, 18th JUNE, 2014

REPLY

The Department of Defence recently undertook an assessment of vacant former married quarter properties within the Curragh Camp with a view to their potential for future military use.  The properties in question comprise a terrace of 16 houses.  Three of the houses had previously been reconfigured by combining adjacent houses with the result that there are now 13 individual units in the terrace overall.

The assessment indicates that, in order to be viable for military purposes as multi-occupancy Single-Living-In accommodation, adjacent properties would best be combined to give a smaller number of larger units.  The assessment also indicates that the properties are in a very poor state of repair and that the estimated cost of repairs necessary to make them suitable as accommodation is simply prohibitive.

While the outcome of the assessment is still under consideration it is clear that any renovation would be very costly, would only deliver around half the number of viable units and would be very limited in terms of future military needs.  At this stage, this is not considered to be a cost effective solution to meeting accommodation needs in the Curragh.

This assessment was undertaken as the block overall appeared to be structurally sound and contained a sizeable number of houses, the majority of which were vacant.   Given the outcome of the assessment in this case there appears to be little prospect that the outcome would be much different were other, individual or small groups of houses assessed. Consequently there are no plans to expand the assessment to include all residential units in the Camp.

The Curragh Camp is a key military installation.  Among its many functions it houses the Defence Forces Training Centre and as such it operates as the main training facility for military personnel from across all formations.

It has been Department policy since 1997 to discontinue the provision of married quarters across all military installations, as they are no longer a requirement of the modern solider.  Where personnel are now required for military purposes to be accommodated in barracks this is done on a Single-Living-In basis i.e. the military personnel but not their families are accommodated for the duration of the requirement.

In recent years, some vacated former married quarter properties within the Camp have been retained, refurbished and reallocated for use by the military to provide short term accommodation on a multi occupancy basis for those military personnel who are temporarily based at the training centre.

Expenditure from the Defence Vote can only be justified in the context of meeting the needs of the Defence Forces in accordance with Defence policy in a cost effective manner.

It is important to remember that the Department does not have a role in providing housing assistance for military personnel on social housing lists or for members of the public in general.

 

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To ask the Minister for Defence his plans to reform the office of the Ombudsman of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- MICK WALLACE.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON WEDNESDAY, 7TH MAY, 2014.

REPLY

I met with the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, Mr. Patrick Anthony McCourt on the 16th April 2014 and discussed the caseload currently going through his office in addition to other general matters of interest.

I was also updated on progress made to date on the publication of the 2012 and 2013 annual reports of the Ombudsman.  Due to particular circumstances, relating to High Court proceedings arising during 2013, the Annual Report for 2012 of the ODF has not yet been published. The Ombudsman indicated that the 2012 report will be available by the end of June 2014 and the 2013 report will be published as soon as possible thereafter.

There are no plans at present for changes to the operation of the office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces. The office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is well established. A number of administrative and systemic issues identified by the Ombudsman have been addressed by Defence management. This has contributed to improvements in procedures and policies within the Defence Forces.  I am satisfied that the current system is working well.

The Ombudsman has full independence and autonomy in the discharge of his statutory functions.  The primary role of the Ombudsman, which is provided for in the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004, is to provide an independent appeals process for members of the Defence Forces. Such appeals arise where a complaint has been processed through the internal Defence Forces “Redress of Wrongs” process but the complainant remains dissatisfied, either with the outcome, or with the manner in which the complaint was handled.  The 2004 Act also provides that, subject to certain conditions, the Ombudsman may accept complaints directly from former members of the Defence Forces.

To ask the Minister for Defence in view of the increased movement of United States troops and arms into the region surrounding Ukraine and the Russian border, if he will consider authorising members of the Defence Forces to inspect US military aircraft transiting through Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

-MICK WALLACE

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON WEDNESDAY, 7TH MAY, 2014.

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.

There is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters. The Defence Forces have deployed personnel to Shannon Airport, in response to requests for support from An Garda Síochána, since 5th February 2003.

With regard to the request for consideration of inspections of aircraft, the Defence Forces have no responsibility for searching US Military aircraft that land at Shannon.

Good soundness is a result of proper food and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are different. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment variant for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to keep in mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood tension medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may turn on erectile disfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

To ask the Minister for Defence in relation to the recently announced recruitment campaign for the Defence Forces, if he will be reviewing the admissibility criteria in relation to the visibility of tattoos; if there will be an appeal mechanism in place for persons whose application to the Defence Forces is refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

DEPUTY MICK WALLACE.

FOR PRIORITY ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 25TH MARCH, 2014

REPLY  

In order to be eligible for enlistment in the Permanent Defence Force as a General Service Recruit, applicants must meet all of the specified criteria and standards for entry, as laid down in Defence Force Regulations and the associated Administrative Instructions.

In this regard, Paragraph 131 of Administrative Instruction A9 provides that “Tattooing above the collar of the shirt is prohibited”.  This criteria applies to all personnel who join both the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force and is in line with requirements in other countries.

The purpose of this requirement is to prevent the induction of personnel who subsequently could not be deployed on ceremonial duties which form part of the functions of Military personnel. In particular, the Reverse Arms drill movement requires the tilting of the head forward and downwards on completion of the drill movement which exposes more of the neck than is normally the case.

The Military Authorities have advised that it is at the Physical Fitness Testing stage of the selection process, for recruitment, that a determination in relation to the matter of a tattoo is made.  Where an applicant is found to be ineligible due to tattooing above the collar of the shirt, the applicant will be informed of this both orally and in writing.  From time of being advised, an applicant has seventy two hours to make it known, either orally or in writing, that they wish to appeal the decision.  A senior officer subsequently meets the applicant and makes a final decision on the matter.

Currently there are no plans to review the admissibility criteria in relation to the visibility of tattoos.

To ask the Minister for Defence the reason Defence forces personnel were stationed in front of US warplanes at Shannon airport on 22 February 2014 and 2 March 2014; and if any inspections of the aircraft took place.

DEPUTY MICK WALLACE

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 25TH MARCH, 2014.

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.

There is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters.  The Defence Forces have deployed personnel to Shannon Airport, in response to requests for support from An Garda Síochána, since 5th February 2003.

In respect of the 22nd of February 2014 and the 2nd of March 2014, requests for Defence Forces support were received from An Garda Síochána.  With regard to inspections of aircraft, the Defence Forces have no responsibility for searching US Military aircraft that land at Shannon.

To ask the Minister for Defence in view of the fact that the surveying, listing and ongoing monitoring of protected buildings in the Defence property portfolio falls within the remit of the local authority, the number of meetings and level of engagement that took place between the Defence Forces Property Section and Kildare County Council in relation to these matters over the past five years.

- DEPUTY MICK WALLACE.

 For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 25th March, 2014.

REPLY

A small number of military buildings are included on the Record of Protected Structures of Kildare County Council. As there have been no plans to carry out material alterations to any of these protected structures my Department has not had the requirement to meet with the local authority in relation to these buildings within the last five years. I can confirm that as part of the ongoing process of managing the Defence property portfolio my Department monitors the Record of Protected Structures on an ongoing basis.

At present Conservation Architects are employed by my Department in relation to two projects, namely the restoration of the North Accommodation Block in McKee Barracks which is a protected structure, and the construction of a Military Archives Facility in Cathal Brugha Barracks. In most instances where external design teams are employed by my Department, the teams consists of an Architect (conservation qualified as necessary), a Structural Engineer, a Services Engineer and a Quantity Surveyor.

When it is proposed to demolish a building in a Defence Forces installation an application is submitted to my Department by the military authorities – each application is considered on its merits following consultation between officials in my Department and the Defence Forces Corps of Engineers before a final decision is made.    To date no protected structures have been demolished by my Department or the Defence Forces.

To ask the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No.12 of 6 February 2014, in relation to Irelands participation in EU Battle groups, his views on whether the triple lock has been substantially weakened by the Defence Amendment Act 2006; and that if Irish troops are committed to take part in a war it is highly unlikely that they will only be involved for 120 days..

-Deputy  Mick Wallace.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 25TH MARCH, 2014

REPLY

The statutory authority for the despatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force for service overseas as part of an International Force, is set out in Section 2 of the Defence (Amendment)(No. 2) Act, 1960 as amended by the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006. This provision is commonly referred to as the “triple lock” and comprises three requirements namely:

 

The authorisation of the operation by the Security Council or General Assembly of the United Nations;

 

Ø

A formal Government decision; and

 

Ø

The approval of Dáil Éireann.

 

There is no requirement for Dáil approval for the despatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force for service overseas as part of an International Force where that Force is unarmed or where the size of the Permanent Defence Force contingent does not exceed twelve members. Outside of such contingent deployments, members of the Permanent Defence Force may also be deployed outside the State on a range of other duties including training, humanitarian operations, fact finding missions, ceremonial duties etc under the authority of the Government in accordance with the provisions of the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006, which formalised arrangements in this regard. The range of such duties are set out in Section 3 of the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006. 

Deployment in the case of any Battlegroup operation will be for a period of 30 days extendable up to 120 days under the agreed EU concept under which Battlegroups operate.

Within the EU Battlegroup concept, the purpose of the Battlegroup, as a rapid response capability, includes the role of acting as an initial entry force to stabilise a situation pending the deployment of a follow-on force, to support an established peace support operation; and to respond to humanitarian crises.  The Battlegroup is designed to respond to crisis management situations in support of international Peace and Security.  Indeed, the United Nations strongly supports the development of the Battlegroups as a capability that could be made available by the Union in support of UN mandated missions.

As the Deputy will be aware, the EU does not have a common defence arrangement and as such there is no situation in which a Battlegroup could be committed to take part in any war, as is suggested by the Deputy. Moreover, in relation to Ireland’s participation in EU Battlegroups, the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006 has not in any way impacted on the triple lock mechanism. Any deployment of Defence Forces personnel to an overseas operation as part of a Battlegroup would be subject to the “Triple Lock” – UN Mandate, Government and Dáil Eireann approval in accordance with the Defence Acts 1954 – 2011.

 To ask the Minister for Defence the position regarding the progress of the technical assessment of dwellings in the Curragh Camp; when the report is expected; if he will convene a multi-departmental meeting with representatives of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Public Expenditure and Reform and Kildare County Council to discuss the way these houses can be used in the interests of both the Defence Forces and the Exchequer..

- Deputy Mick Wallace.

* To ask the Minister for Defence if he will provide an update on the technical assessment of the Curragh Camp dwellings; if he will consider organising a cross-departmental meeting to include the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, in addition to representatives from Kildare County Council, in order to discuss the future of these houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 25th March 2014.

REPLY

Again I am aware that this issue was discussed at the recent meeting Deputy Daly and yourself had with officials from my Department.  As I have mentioned earlier an assessment of a select group of properties in the Curragh Camp is being completed. This assessment will inform the process of planning for the long term military use of these properties. These properties were formerly used as married quarters.  The assessment will provide the Department with a cost per unit for the redevelopment of the properties for military use and will inform a decision on whether it is economically viable to restore and use the properties.  The expectation is that given the currently unoccupied properties are for the most part uninhabitable with many in extremely poor condition the cost of refurbishment is likely to be significant.

As these properties are within the Curragh Camp the factors other than the cost of refurbishment per unit that will need to be considered in deciding whether or not to retain properties include:

Proposals for the redevelopment of the Camp generally in order to improve the overall layout of the facilities.

The requirements for Single Living In (SLI) accommodation within the camp both presently and into the future. Their potential for military use taking account of their configuration both internally and externally. In addition, any restoration programme will be dependent on the prioritisation of capital projects generally across military barracks in line with available funding. I will wait until I have received the results of the assessment before I make a decision on how to proceed.  However, I must emphasise that any proposed development of former married quarters property at this key military location must in the first instance be considered from the military requirement perspective,  therefore I do not at this time consider that it is appropriate to engage with other agencies regarding the future use of these properties.

To ask the Minister for Defence the position regarding the withdrawal of the seven Irish army personnel remaining with the NATO ISAF forces in Afghanistan, in view of the fact that most other European countries have withdrawn their troops..

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 25th March, 2014.

REPLY

Ireland has participated in the NATO–led UN mandated mission in Afghanistan since 5 July 2002. On 25 June 2013, the Government agreed to continue to provide seven members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with ISAF for a further period from July 2013, subject to ongoing review by the Minister for Defence.

On 20 December 2001, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1386 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, authorising the establishment of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The UN mandate for this mission was most recently renewed on 10 October 2013, and will fall to be renewed again on 31 December this year. As of the 20th February 2014, ISAF has a current strength of approximately 52,700 personnel drawn from 49 Countries. These include 21 non-NATO partner countries, including Sweden, Finland and Austria.  In March 2011, the transition process whereby the Afghan security forces would gradually take on more security responsibility from ISAF was launched. On 18 June 2013, the final phase of the transition was instigated. This process is due to be completed at the end of 2014, when ISAF’s mission will end.

Ireland has participated in ISAF in Afghanistan since 5 July 2002, following the Government Decision of 2 July 2002, authorising the provision of seven (7) members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the force. Since then, the Government has reviewed and approved, on an annual basis, the continued participation by seven (7) members of the Permanent Defence Force in ISAF.  The seven (7) personnel currently serving with the force are all located in ISAF HQ, Kabul and work in staff appointments in planning and administrative roles.

Defence Forces participation in all overseas missions is reviewed on an ongoing basis. The overall drawdown of ISAF personnel is currently underway and the withdrawal of the Defence Forces personnel will be coordinated in this context. While it is anticipated that Irish personnel will complete their service with the mission in September 2014, this will be kept under review in the context of the current proposed follow on training mission.

The current plan, post 2014, is that NATO will lead a follow on training advisory and assistance mission to support the development of Afghan National Security Forces capacity and provide sustained practical support for improving the country’s capacity to tackle security threats. This plan has yet to be finalised. The question of Ireland contributing to any follow on mission in Afghanistan will be considered in the context of what other contributing countries are planning.  A key consideration in this regard will be the availability of adequate force protection assets and personnel to protect any such training elements.

Good health is a result of proper nutrition and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are various. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the unimprovable treatment option for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to think about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile disfunction, including many blood pressure medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may turn on erectile dysfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

To ask the Minister for Defence the number of occasions in 2013 on which An Garda Síochána requested support from the Defence Forces at Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

DEPUTY MICK WALLACE.

FOR PRIORITY ANSWER ON THURSDAY, 6TH FEBRUARY, 2014.

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.

The Defence Forces have provided assistance to An Garda Síochána at Shannon Airport since 2003.  In 2013, Defence Force personnel were deployed to Shannon Airport on 324 occasions in response to requests for support from An Garda Síochána.  The length of each such deployment and the number of relevant aircraft that land and take off during each deployment can vary.  For example, on a given day, troops may be deployed to Shannon Airport once but this mission, as formally requested by the Gardaí, may relate to the arrival and departure of more than one aircraft.  On other occasions, for example if a single aircraft is on the ground for an extended period, perhaps overnight, this may involve two or more deployments of troops as each shift is generally of 12 hours duration.

To ask the Minister for Defence if he will consider a report by an independent party costing a renovation programme for the remaining 101 family dwellings at the Curragh Camp; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

DEPUTY MICK WALLACE.

FOR ORAL ANSWER ON THURSDAY, 6TH FEBRUARY, 2014.

REPLY

My Department is engaged on an ongoing building programme designed to modernise and enhance the training, operational and accommodation facilities available to members of the Defence Forces.

The Department and the Defence Forces, similar to all other Government Departments, must take into account the current difficult economic environment we are now operating in.

The budgetary situation and the operational requirements of the Defence Forces are the primary factors in determining the individual projects which can be completed, including those within the Curragh Camp. The Department does not have the funds to develop assets for other than to meet core, essential, military requirements. As part of the process for the allocation of funding for individual capital projects an assessment of requirements, which includes a cost benefit analysis, is undertaken.

In relation to the Curragh Camp it is understood from the military authorities that of the married quarters properties in question, 47 properties are unoccupied due to their condition, 56 properties are currently occupied, 26 by existing military personnel and a further 30 are occupied by non-military personnel.  It should be noted that currently nearly 50% of the 103 properties concerned are uninhabitable and many others are in need of substantial refurbishment.

As I have said earlier I have asked that a technical assessment of the pool of properties, be undertaken so as to inform a decision on whether it is economically viable to restore and use any of the properties in a cost effective manner.

Any development of property from the public purse at this key location which encompasses the Defence Forces Training Centre must in the first instance be considered for use for military purposes.

Further, any such initiative must support and complement the current policy positions of withdrawing from the provision of Married Quarters and resolving the issue of overholding.  I must repeat as I have said earlier, I cannot support the illegal occupation of military property by those who have no entitlement.  It is important to remember that the Department does not have a role in the provision of housing accommodation for civilians, including ex-members of the Defence Forces. Regarding meetings with other Departments and agencies on this matter, I can assure the Deputies concerned that any engagement with other parties necessary to inform and resolve this issue will be undertaken.

Good health is a result of proper nutrition and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are varied. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment option for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to have in mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood stress medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may include erectile disfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

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