Thursday, 18 November 2021
Department of Defence
240. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent of audits done to ascertain the extent to which all equipment, navigation and otherwise used by the Army whether on a regular or occasional basis is up to specific standards of an international level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56807/21]
243. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which he remains satisfied that the standard and quality of equipment used by the Army and available for regular use is kept at the highest standard in order to ensure reliability and safety during operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56810/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 243 together.
My priority as Minister for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, is maintained and developed to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government, including overseas deployments.
The Equipment Development Plan (EDP) published in June 2020 provides a comprehensive list of planned equipment projects, which will be progressed over five years. This plan builds on the intentions set out in the White Paper in relation to equipment acquisition, modernisation and upgrade and has been developed to ensure that our Defence Forces have the major equipment platforms, ancillary equipment and force protection equipment to carry out their important roles both at home and overseas. The equipment planning process recognises the need to maintain and upgrade military capabilities having regard to emerging operational requirements and changes in technology, including communications equipment and technology and this is an ongoing process. When procuring all Defence Forces equipment, the process involves appropriately qualified Defence Forces personnel who ensure the relevant national and international standards for military equipment are taken into account and met, where applicable.
I am advised by the military authorities that General Routine Order (GRO) 05/2015 ‘Health and Safety Management in the Defence Forces’ sets out the Defence Forces health and safety risk management system, which is designed to control risk and continually improve health and safety risk performance through proactive and effective health and safety risk management. The Defence Forces Policy on Work Equipment is one such policy, outlined in part 6 of the GRO. This policy itself describes the Defence Forces methodology for the assessment of risk arising from work equipment. It provides guidance for military personnel, civilian employees and other relevant persons on the risk assessment process and control measures to be implemented to reduce the risk of injury from work equipment to a level that is as low as is reasonably practicable. Periodic equipment inspections are an intrinsic element of routine military unit activities; this includes user level, health and safety type checks and Ordnance technical type inspections to ensure that equipment is maintained to an operational state at all times.
I am advised by the Military Authorities that the Defence Forces have the necessary policies and procedures in place in line with best international practice in order to ensure the highest standards of health and safety in respect of the use of equipment to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government, and that such policies and procedures are kept under review.
244. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of women currently serving in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; the extent to which this number has varied over the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56811/21]
245. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of women currently holding senior positions in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; the number of promotional posts likely to arise in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56812/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 and 245 together.
I am advised by the military authorities that, as at 31st October 2021, the whole time equivalent strength of female personnel in the Permanent Defence Force was 601 comprised of 487 Army personnel, 40 Air Corps personnel and 74 Naval Service personnel.
The strength of female personnel in the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service for each of the years 2011-2020 is provided in Table 1 (attached) while the current strength is provided, in the requested breakdown, in Table 2 (attached).
In line with current policies and commitments a number of initiatives have been implemented to increase the level of female participation in the Permanent Defence Force. These include:
- Special consideration is paid to women as a target group for recruitment within the generalrecruitment framework.
- A Gender Equality and Diversity Officer has been appointed to promote gender equality policies and training within the Defence Forces. The Defence Forces are committed to gender equality and employ a gender perspective in the planning and execution of operations both at home and overseas and in all policies and regulations. Gender Advisors are available to all Brigades and Services and trained Gender Focal Points are deployed with all overseas units and ships in order to promote a gender perspective in operations.
- A Defence Forces Women's Network was established with the aim of increasing the participation of female personnel at all levels of the organisation.
Vacancies, where current strength is less than the establishment strength, are filled on an ongoing, gender neutral basis. They are filled in line with promotional arrangements and, in certain cases, direct entry competitions and re-entry of ex PDF personnel. Vacancies at Private Rank are filled by general service recruitment and direct entry competition. Table 3 shows all vacancies (negative figures in Column D) as at 31st October 2021.
The Government remains committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities.
<a href="">Female Personnel Table</a>
<a href="">Permanent Defence Forces Table</a>
<a href="">Establishment by Rank Table</a>
246. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the policy position adopted by his Department with respect to the repurposing of decommissioned Army barracks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56771/21]
In line with Government Policy, any property that is identified as being surplus to military requirements is disposed of. In disposing of such property, the Department of Defence is required to determine if the Land Development Agency, Government Departments or Local Authorities are interested in acquiring same.
Should no such interest be declared, the Department of Defence proceeds with disposal of the property by way of unrestricted competition via public auction for the best obtainable consideration having regard to the market value of the property.