Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Defence Forces

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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124. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will consider a reform of the process by which medals are awarded and honour the service men and women following on from the independent review into medals awarded to those involved in the Jadotville siege; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56546/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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In general, medals are awarded to members of the Defence Forces on the basis of various criteria such as their length of service, for service overseas and for acts of bravery associated with such service both at home and overseas. Defence Force Regulation (DFR) A9 sets out the qualifying criteria required to be awarded such Defence Forces Medals.

This Regulation also delineates the procedures for the awarding of those medals to members of the Defence Forces and requires that any recommendations for possible awards must be made in accordance with the relevant procedures. Such awards are made on the recommendation of a Military Board appointed by the Chief of Staff for the purpose of examining and reporting on every recommendation for an award.

The issue of awarding of military medals to personnel who served at Jadotville has been considered on a number of occasions and most recently by the Independent Review Group (IRG), established to examine the issue of the award of military medals to personnel who served at Jadotville. The IRG’s report was published in full on 15 July 2021.

I have publicly welcomed the report in response to its publication last July. The report provides a comprehensive, multidimensional and contextualised account of the Battle of Jadotville and its aftermath. The conclusions and recommendations are based on a rigorous and objective examination of all material and evidence available.

A critical factor is to ensure that the process of awarding medals is underpinned by oversight, objectivity, accountability, and transparency. With a view therefore to maintaining the credibility and integrity of the medals awarding system, the recommendations of the Independent Review Group are being considered in that context.

As the Deputy will be aware, a judicial review is under way at present regarding a recommendation of the IRG report relating to the convening of a Military Board to consider the award of medals. Given that the matter is now before the Courts, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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128. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which he and his Department continue to liaise with the Defence Forces with a view to the resolution of matters outstanding including the strength of all branches, matters relating to pay and conditions or other issues of concern; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56457/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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There is sustained close collaboration between the civil and military sides of the Defence Organisation to identify, resolve and progress any matters that may arise. Such collaboration takes place at all levels of the organisation.

The central forum for the management and oversight of civil and military matters is provided by the joint civil-military Strategic Management Committee, which meets on a monthly basis and provides a means by which senior civil and military managers engage in policy development.

Such integrated civil and military groups are common place within the Organisation, examples of which include are as follows:

- The White Paper on Defence established the policy framework out to 2025 and this was developed jointly by civil-military working groups and overseen by a joint Steering Group. A joint civil-military White Paper Implementation Facilitation Team oversee the implementation of the White Paper and all projects are being, or were undertaken by civil-military teams.

- The Strategic Human Resource Group (SHRG), comprised of senior management, coordinates the HR plans and activities of the civil and military elements of the Defence Organisation to ensure delivery. The initial priority of the SHRG was the oversight of the 15 projects undertaken to facilitate the implementation of the Public Service Pay Commission’s recommendations on recruitment and retention. The projects were undertaken by civil-military teams and were facilitated by a joint Programme Management Office.

- The High Level Planning and Procurement Group (HLPPG), comprised of senior civil-military management, is the sanctioning authority where significant levels of expenditure is proposed on the procurement of goods and services. The HLPPG meets as required to progress equipment procurement and infrastructural development priorities.

Public Service pay policy is outside the remit of my Department, as it is determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform having regard to Public Sector Pay Agreements. Within the Defence Organisation, matters that come within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration (C&A) Scheme, such as allowances, are considered by the civil and military Conciliation and Arbitration Branches in the first instance.

I meet regularly with senior civil and military management, both jointly and separately, to be appraised of all pertinent matters relating to my Department. As the instances of interactions outlined above illustrate, the bilateral engagement and co-operation by Defence Organisation personnel is comprehensive. However the above are just examples of the wide range of on-going engagement that is undertaken on a daily basis to successfully address any matters that may arise.


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