To ask the Minister for Defence if he will report on the progress of the recruitment campaign for the Defence Forces; and how he envisages this will impact their regional structures.
This question relates to the recruitment campaign for the Army, which was launched on 4 August 2015. What progress is being made on it?
Simon Coveney, Minister for Defence:
I am glad to say we are recruiting strongly, because recruitment is needed.
The Government is committed to maintaining the stabilised strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel, comprising 7,520 Army, 886 Air Corps and 1,094 Naval Service personnel, as stated in the 2015 White Paper on Defence. I am advised by the military authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 31 August 2015, the latest date for which details are available, was 9,082, comprising 7,337 Army, 726 Air Corps and 1,019 Naval Service personnel.
The manpower requirement of the Defence Forces is monitored on an ongoing basis in accordance with the operational requirements of each of the three services. Personnel are posted on the basis of operational needs across the organisation, both at home and abroad, and not on a regional basis. As there is a significant turnover of personnel in the Permanent Defence Force, targeted recruitment has been and is currently taking place so as to maintain the agreed strength levels.
A total of 157 personnel have been inducted into the Army to date in 2015 from the panels formed from the general service recruitment competition which was launched in March 2014.The induction of a further 80 recruits in the coming months will result in these panels being exhausted. A new general service recruitment campaign for the Army was launched on 4 August 2015. The induction of successful candidates from this competition is expected to commence in early 2016.
A recruitment competition for general service recruits for the Naval Service was launched on 6 March 2015. The selection process for this competition is progressing and 40 personnel have been recruited from the panel this month. It is planned that a further 40 will be recruited from the same panel in December 2015.
The intake of cadets into the Permanent Defence Force is normally carried out on an annual basis, taking into consideration the operational requirements of the Defence Forces and the resource envelope allocated to defence. Ten Air Corps cadets were inducted on 21 September 2015, 9 Naval Service cadets were inducted on 22 September 2015 and 30 Army cadets were inducted on 5 October 2015.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Direct entry competitions are held as required from which specialist appointments are filled. To date this year, 19 instrumentalists and five engine room artificers have been inducted for the Defence Forces school of music and the Naval Service, respectively. It is expected that 25 Air Corps apprentice trainee technicians, a conductor for the Defence Forces school of music and a medical officer will be inducted by the end of 2015.
A Reserve Defence Force, RDF, competition was also launched in March 2014. Future recruitment into the RDF will be informed by Reserve strength figures. A total of 300 personnel, 279 male and 21 female, have been inducted into the Reserve Defence Force to date in 2015.
With the support of the Chief of Staff and within the resources available, it is intended to retain the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by the Government both at home and overseas.
Seán Kyne TD:
I thank the Minister for his response.
I welcome the Government’s commitment to maintaining a strong defence base of at least 9,500 personnel and also the recruitment campaign. It is good to hear the induction will take place in 2016 in respect of the Army recruits. Obviously, the Minister’s predecessor reorganised the defence structures. A regional balance is important in terms of the allocation of personnel to the different barracks, with particular reference to Dún Ui Mhaoilíosa, Renmore, Army barracks. How is the recruitment progressing given that the campaign highlighted that there would be full equality irrespective of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation?
Simon Coveney, Minister for Defence:
Direct entry competitions are also being held as required from which specialist appointments are being filled. To date, this year 19 instrumentalists have been appointed and five engine room personnel have also been inducted. The Defence Forces school of music and Naval Service accommodated those respectively. It is expected that 25 Air Corps apprentice trainee technicians, a conductor for the Defence Forces school of music and a medical officer will be inducted by the end of this year. There is also a recruitment campaign for the Defence Force Reserve which needs to dramatically increase its numbers. Active recruitment is taking place to do that.
An important issue is to ensure we are an equal employer for everybody. Yesterday, I was in Galway for the PDFORRA conference. The new Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, made it clear that a major priority for him is to ensure that in our recruitment campaigns we are equal employers regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of who one is or where one comes from, or whether one is male or female. We want an appropriate balance with the Defence Forces. The targeting within recruitment campaigns will try to reflect that.