Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Defence Forces

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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83. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the battle of Jadotville; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56532/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The issue of awarding of Military Medals for Gallantry (MMG) and Distinguished Service Medals (DSMs) to a number of personnel who served in Jadotville in September 1961 has been considered on a number of occasions over the years and a range of actions have taken place to give due recognition to the courage and bravery of all the members of “A” Company, 35thInfantry Battalion who were served at Jadotville in 1961.

Notwithstanding the actions that have been taken to date to recognise and honour the valiant actions and bravery of all of the men stationed at Jadotville sixty years ago, an Independent Review Group (IRG) was established to examine and report on matters relating to recommendations for military medals relating to events at Jadotville.

In July, 2021, the IRG made a number of recommendations in their report including a recommendation that the 60th anniversary of Jadotville be commemorated. Other recommendations relate to the awarding of medals, veterans affairs and honouring the role of families and the support they provided to veterans. All recommendations have been considered at a high level.

Last September, the Secretary General of the Department of Defence, and the then Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces marked the 60th anniversary of Jadotville by paying tribute to the extraordinary courage, skill, commitment and sacrifice of the men of ‘A’ Company, 35thInfantry Battalion when attending the peacekeeping memorial event at UNHQ New York.

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that Military Archives has an online exhibition marking the 60thAnniversary of the battle at Jadotville on its website www.militaryarchives.ie.

With regard to planning for an appropriate specific commemorative event to mark the 60th anniversary of Jadotville and which would also honour the families of the Jadotville veterans, a judicial review related to a recommendation of the IRG report is under way at present. As a result, planning for an appropriate commemorative event is paused until the Defence Organisation has legal clarity on implementing the recommendations of the IRG Report.

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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85. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of new recruits that have enlisted in the Reserve Defence Forces to date in 2021; when the next recruitment campaign will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56381/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a very significant impact on Defence Forces recruitment, including to the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) and has resulted in a reduction of most collective induction processing and training activities. The pandemic resulted in the enactment of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020 and the subsequent delays in Defence Forces applicant processing are now being addressed, including for RDF applicants.

The Military Authorities have advised that a revised Defence Forces framework for living with COVID -19 is in place and is reviewed on an ongoing basis. This revised framework, I understand, affords more scope for RDF training and induction within the parameters of Government guidelines. This of course, will be subject to continued guidance from Government on easing of restrictions.

While the Government remains committed to restoring the strength of the RDF, given the competing recruitment demands at present, where PDF recruitment is and should remain a priority, it should be noted that the same personnel and resources are utilised for both PDF and RDF recruitment.

Nonetheless, RDF recruitment will also be progressed to the greatest extent possible and an additional 29 new RDF members have been inducted as at the end of October this year, with 17 inducted into the AR and 12 inducted into the NSR.

I also had the pleasure this week of attending a Commissioning Ceremony where a cohort of 29 officers were newly commissioned into the Army Reserve. These 29 personnel, men and women, received their commissions following their successful graduation from a Potential Officers Course.

Additionally, I understand that measures are currently under consideration by the military authorities with a view to streamlining elements of the induction process. The outcome of a pilot initiative in this regard is awaited and will further inform next steps.

In recent years the Defence Forces have advertised AR and NSR recruitment competitions on a twice yearly basis, in spring and autumn, through all social media platforms, websites and the national newspapers. The military authorities have advised that they propose to launch a recruitment competition for the RDF in early 2022.

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