For Oral Answer on : 13/05/2021
Question Number(s): 49 Question Reference(s): 24982/21
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Defence his plans to bring forward legislation to enable members of the Reserve Defence Forces to serve overseas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I gave an undertaking during the Committee Stage debate on the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2020 to introduce Report Stage amendments to enable the Reserve Defence Force to be deployed in support of the Permanent Defence Force at home and overseas. That remains my intention.
The amendments will enhance the role of the Reserve Defence Force by removing the current legislative restrictions within the Defence Act 1954 on the activities performed by it, including the restriction on serving overseas. The purpose of any deployment of a member of the Reserve Defence Force on military service on foot of these amendments will be to provide support to the Permanent Defence Force by addressing specific skills gaps. Any deployment will be on an entirely voluntary basis.
While the proposed amendments may appear to be relatively straight-forward, there are a number of provisions in relation to the voluntary nature of the service, the nature of consent to be given by a member and how that can be withdrawn, the duration of any deployment, the application of military law and other such provisions that need to be carefully considered as part of the preparation of this legislation. These provisions also need to be woven into the existing Defence Act in the appropriate manner.
My officials are engaging closely with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to finalise the legal text of the Report Stage amendments. Subject to the completion of the drafting of the amendments, it is my intention to progress the matter as soon as possible.