Tuesday, 9 July 2019
Defence Matters: Statements
I am aware that Senator McFadden spoke to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, about the working family payment today. People are on the working family payment for specific reasons, related to their own and their family's circumstances. It is for a person recruited aged 22 or 23 who has two or three children.It is for all members of the private sector and public sector. I am glad that the Senator welcomes this as a start. It is a start to the pathway of recovery for members of the Defence Forces. It is important that we recognise that it is an important step forward. Both RACO and PDFORRA have made representations to me on numerous occasions about the restoration of allowances and it is important to recognise that all allowances have been restored to pre-Haddington Road agreement levels. Restoration to pre-financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, levels is covered in the public service stability agreement, which will conclude in October 2020.
Senator Higgins raised a range of matters relating to defence and others to foreign policy. The Senator might take those up with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney. Operation Sophia is not rescuing migrants because an agreement could not be reached about where we could bring those rescued ashore. Ireland is participating in efforts to resolve this issue but it is outside our direct control. Efforts at European level will be central to resolving the matter. The Senator spoke about our involvement in permanent structured co-operation, PESCO. It is important that the Defence Forces participate in PESCO. We are involved in some of its many courses. It will assist in enhancing our capabilities. It is important that we are not isolated from working with other countries, whether on peacekeeping duties, PESCO, the Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP, or whatever else it is. Regarding Ireland's position-----