To ask the Minister for Defence the level of allowances for overseas deployment by the Defence Forces per rank applicable before the proposed reduction as outlined in the recent Budget and the corresponding amounts that will be payable when the reduction has been put in place; the overall amount he expects that this reduction will yield in a full year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. DEPUTY DAVID STANTON



Minister for Defence, (Mr. Tony Killeen, T.D.): In common with all areas of the public service, the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces will operate with reduced funding for 2011. The gross 2011 Estimate for Defence and Army Pensions combined is €933m, an overall reduction of 4% on the 2010 Estimate. Defence spending at €725m, including capital, will be reduced by €30m or 4%.

The cost of overseas allowances in a given year is principally a factor of the number of personnel serving overseas and the time spent overseas. In this regard, while there was a significant reduction in participation in overseas peacekeeping in 2010, and thus in the expenditure on overseas allowances, this was driven mainly by the unexpected withdrawal from Chad.

On 14 December 2010 the Government approved the deployment of a contingent of the Defence Forces, as part of a joint Finnish/Irish battalion to UNIFIL. Discussions will commence with the UN and with Finland on finalising the composition of the contingent and the deployment schedule. Thereafter, Dáil approval will be sought for the mission. This will complete the Triple Lock mechanism of UN, Government and Dáil approval before deploying members of the Defence Forces overseas.

The overall provision in Subhead C of the Defence Vote, which provides for Permanent Defence Force allowances, including overseas allowances, has been reduced to €43.6m in 2011. There will be sufficient funds in the Defence Budget to meet the cost of the proposed deployment to Lebanon in 2011 and the cost of existing overseas missions.

Ireland is currently contributing 128 Defence Forces personnel to 11 different missions throughout the world. The main overseas mission in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed is the EU-led operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina with 43 personnel. Ireland’s contribution to the EU-led operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina, will be drawn down this year as the mission continues to transition to a training and support mission. Once deployment to UNIFIL takes place it is expected that the total overseas deployment at that stage will amount to just over 500. This is a very significant contribution in the context of the reduced resources available and reflects the Government’s continued commitment to international peacekeeping and to the ongoing development of the Defence Forces.

Apart from the proposed deployment to Lebanon, no other deployments are planned or envisaged at this time and there are no such requests on hand.