Written answers

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Aontú)
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233. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel who departed or left the Defence Forces in each of the past five years to date in 2021. [49331/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The table below shows the number of personnel who discharged from the Defence Forces (including those in training) in each of the years 2016-2020 and to date in 2021.

Year In Training Total Departures
2016 171 679
2017 209 742
2018 139 740
2019 187 882
2020 190 636
2021* 107 379
*As at 31st August 2021, the latest date for which such data is currently available.

Discharges include personnel who left for a variety of reasons including on age grounds, at end of contract and voluntary discharges. More than 50% of those who leave the Defence Forces do so with some form of pension. This can make taking up a position in the private sector very attractive where a full-time position, even at the same rates as those in the Defence Forces, could lead to an increase in an individual’s earnings.

Included in the figures above is the number of trainees who exited prior to completion of their initial training. The average turnover rate of General Service Recruits who do not complete training has been around 30% over the last number of years. In any position where there is a training period prior to appointment there will always be fall off at different stages of the process.

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Aontú)
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235. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the EU defence programmes or initiatives Ireland is party to; and the contribution by Ireland to these programmes monetarily in terms of participation of Defence Forces personnel and any other contribution as Ireland as a member state makes to EU defence initiatives. [49333/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The European Defence Agency (EDA) is an Agency of the European Union, which supports Member States to develop a range of capabilities and capability standards to support CSDP, in particular the deployment of military capabilities in support of Crisis Management Tasks, as outlined in the Treaty on European Union. Ireland’s participation in the Agency provides access to research and information on developing and maintaining professional capabilities and research that we cannot self-generate. This is important in terms of Ireland's ability to participate in UN mandated Peacekeeping Operations. Ireland contributes, on an annual basis, to the operational budget of the EDA. The financial commitment to this budget is in accordance with EDA funding principles, based on gross national income (GNI) key. A total of €7,596,093 has been made to the EDA over the seventeen years since Ireland joined in 2004, which includes both contributions to the operational budget and also to capability development projects which Ireland has or is participating in.

The Coordinated Annual Review of Defence (CARD) is a process which aims to create greater transparency by sharing Member States information on future defence policy, capability development, budgets and investment. Participation in CARD is open to all Member States on a voluntary basis, recognising that the defence policies of Member States, including defence spending and capabilities, is entirely a national competence. The EDA and the EU Military Staff (EUMS) act as the CARD Secretariat. Defence Forces personnel and Department of Defence staff participate in EDA and CARD meetings where relevant and appropriate, any costs arising would be in relation to travel to these meetings.

The establishment of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) represents a further development in EU Cooperation in support of international peace and security under CSDP. Under PESCO, Member States will come together in different groups to develop and make available additional capabilities and enablers for peacekeeping and crisis management operations.

Ireland is currently participating in one PESCO project and is an observer on a further nine projects. To date, no additional costs have been incurred through PESCO related activities other than costs associated with attendance by Defence Forces Subject Matter Experts at PESCO project planning meetings.

The EU Satellite Centre (EU SatCen) is an Agency working for the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union under the Political Supervision of the Political and Security Committee and the Operational Direction of the High Representative, which is governed by a Council Joint Action. In the international security and defence field, it handles sensitive and classified data to support CSDP military operations and civilian missions. The Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs contribute to the budget of the EU SatCen. Over the 14 years since 2007, the total contribution to the budget of the Sat Cen by the Department of Defence is €1,180,701. Defence Forces Personnel attend the EU SatCen Technical Expert Group meetings and Brussels based Department of Defence staff attend the Board meetings, any costs arising from attendance at these meetings would be in relation to travel.

The European Defence Fund (EDF) is an industrial sectoral programme, providing funding for research and capability development, which supports the European Defence and Industrial Technology Base in delivering capabilities for Common Security Defence Policy operations. The fund is designed to foster innovation to address new security and defence challenges and allow economies of scale through greater industrial and research cooperation and enhancing the competitiveness of the EU defence industry. It facilitates Member States to better coordinate and supplement national investments in defence and to achieve greater output and develop defence technology and equipment that may not otherwise be feasible. Member State contributions to the EU Budget (Own Resources) are currently calculated annually by the EU Commission in line with the provisions outlined in Own Resources Decision (ORD) Regulation (2014/335). EU Budget revenue is general, and is not assigned to any particular fund. As such, the EDF does not have a defined cost to the Exchequer. Ireland’s contributions go into the general pool of revenue that funds all EU budget expenditure, including the EDF. The EDF is encompassed within the funding being provided for the Multiannual Financial Framework which is funded directly by the Exchequer. The EDF Progamme Committee meetings are attended by Brussels based Department of Defence staff.

Ireland also contributes to the funding of common costs for EU military crisis management operations. These costs are currently financed by the new European Peace Facility (EPF) which has replaced the Athena Mechanism and the African Peace Facility. Both the Athena Mechanism and the African Peace Facility were established in 2004 and operated until 2021.

Under the EPF, the Department of Defence has responsibility for the financing of common costs relating to EU military operations under the EU's common security and defence policy (CSDP), previously handled by the Athena mechanism The Department of Foreign Affairs has responsibility for the funding of African peace support operations, previously handled by the African Peace Facility. In addition, the EPF can extend financing for peace-support operations to partners other than the African Union and provide assistance to individual countries and regional or sub-regional organisations.

In 2020, the European Council agreed a €5bn financial ceiling for the EPF over the seven years of the 2021-2027 MFF. Actual spending of EPF funds will require separate unanimous Council Decisions for each operation or assistance measure and an annual ceiling for each of the seven years is set out in the Council Decision establishing the EPF. Brussels-based Department of Defence and Department of Foreign Affairs staff attend EPF Committee meetings in the course of their normal duties.

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