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Address by the Minister for Defence
Mr. Tony Killeen, T.D.,
at the 16th Delegate Conference
of the
Reserve Defence Force Representation Association
in ceannt officers mess
DFTC,
Curragh Camp
on
Saturday 15th May 2010

Deputy Chief of Staff, President of the Reserve Defence Force Representative Association, assembled delegates and fellow guests, it is a great pleasure for me to be here this morning to address your 16th Delegate Conference.

I was honored to be appointed as Minister for Defence in March. It is a Ministerial appointment I have in common with two other Clare men, the late Sylvester Barrett R.I.P. and Brendan Daly.

I was happy to meet with members of your National Executive and your General Secretary Tom Walsh on the 28th April last. This meeting gave me an insight into issues of concern to your Association.

Everyone here is well aware that we are working our way through some of the most challenging economic circumstances, both globally and here in Ireland, that we have had to face for decades. These challenges have required the Government to take tough and decisive action - action that has won international respect. Some of the necessary measures have been unpalatable, however the Government is determined to do what it takes to put Ireland back on the road to sustainable economic recovery and growth,

Ensuring value for money in the delivery of services is a key priority within the Department and the Defence Forces. In this context, the Defence Organisation is widely regarded as a model for public sector reform. The significant improvements that have been achieved over recent years have engendered a culture of continuous improvement within the Defence Organisation and I am confident that where change is required, it will be quickly identified and implemented.

As with the broader public service, the Defence Organisation is required to operate with reduced funding in 2010. We must review every aspect of our expenditure and prioritise sustaining the core capability of the Defence Forces.

With this in mind recruitment aimed at replacing members who leave the Reserve Defence Force was sanctioned last May. This limited recruitment will be kept under review in the light of the future budgetary provision available to the Department.

Sanction was also given, last November, for the advancement of Privates from 2 Star to 3 Star for those members who have achieved the necessary qualifications, along with promotions from Private to Corporal for those currently qualified. Sanction was also given for the promotion of a Commandant to Lt. Colonel. These promotions were made on a phased basis to March 2010. Along with this 12 members were also commissioned as officers of the RDF in December 2009.

At my recent meeting with the delegation from RDFRA the value and importance of promotions was discussed. I have undertaken to review the situation and in due course I will revert to your General Secretary on this matter.

As you are aware a Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force is currently being carried out under the Government’s 2009 – 2011 programme of Value for Money and Policy reviews. The Steering Committee, charged with undertaking the review, comprising representatives from the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces and the Department of Finance has been established and work has recently commenced. It has met twice, most recently on 25th March last.

I want to leave you in no doubt that you will be consulted during the course of the Review. The Steering Committee is acutely aware of the importance of seeking the views of all stakeholders. The Steering Committee are actively considering how best to manage this consultative process and will be communicating with stakeholders, including RDFRA, in due course.

It is envisaged that this review will be completed by the end of 2010.
The plan is that the findings of the Review, together with the lessons learned from the Reserve Defence Force Review Implementation Plan, will assist in informing decisions regarding the future development of the Reserve Defence Force. I look forward to receiving the Steering Committee’s recommendations in this regard in due course.

Within the available resources, the Government is committed to maintaining the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at a level of 10,000 all ranks, for which Government approval has been secured in the context of Budget 2010. . This reflects the reduction of 500 in personnel recommended in the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes.

At the moment officials from the Department are engaged with the Military Authorities in a review of the structures and posts of the Permanent Defence Force required to meet the operational requirements of the Defence Forces.
Once this review is completed, towards the end of this month, a clearer picture in relation to the structure of the Permanent Defence Force will be available. Within this process all options are being explored, including reorganisation, in order to meet the operational requirements of the Defence Forces within this revised complement of 10,000 Permanent Defence Force personnel.

The appointment of Director Reserve Defence Force has been raised by RDFRA in the context of the re-organisation. At this stage I have received no recommendation regarding the future of this or any other appointment. I would expect however that any recommendation I do receive will take account of the current and future requirements of the Reserve Defence Force.

It is unfortunate that the moratorium and reduced budgetary provisions have prevented the intended recruitment of members of the Reserve Defence Force to the Permanent Defence Force for overseas service. In fact you are probably aware, that it was outlined, in the budget in December 2009 that Defence Forces commitments to overseas peace support operations are being scaled back in 2010.

Members of the Reserve, have committed significant amounts of their spare time and they will be supported to the greatest extent possible in the face of the current difficult budgetary situation.

The provision this year for Reserve Pay is €4.7 million. This amount includes approximately €2.4 million for paid training and it is anticipated that this level of funding will provide for approximately 31,000 paid training mandays.

As you are aware training is comprised of both voluntary and paid training. In light of the reduced paid training day provision for 2010, it is anticipated that there will be an increased emphasis on voluntary unpaid training and the allocation of paid training to individual reservists will take account of voluntary unpaid training undertaken.

The aim is to ensure that reservists who complete specified voluntary unpaid training will be afforded the opportunity to avail of a minimum of 7 days paid training. There will also be an allocation of training mandays to be used to deliver enhanced training to selected members of the Reserve, through full time courses of instruction in addition to their annual training.


A Reserve Defence Force has been maintained in one form or another since the formation of the State. This is due in no small measure to the time and commitment which you the members have voluntarily given. We are in a period of unprecedented challenges. It is incumbent upon all of us to face these challenges and overcome them together. I have been impressed by the “can do” attitude of the Defence Forces and I am aware that the Reserve Defence Force, with its unique spirit of volunteerism, is both resilient and willing to do its part.

In conclusion I would like to wish you every success with the remainder of your conference today and I look forward to working with you into the future.


Ends



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