For Oral Answer on : 10/03/2022
Question Number(s): 20 Question Reference(s): 13222/22
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Defence his plans to introduce legislation which would serve to protect the employment of members of the Reserve Defence Forces while such members take part in full-time duties as members of the Reserve Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Members of the Army Reserve (AR) and the Naval Service Reserve (NSR) are not employed or engaged under a contract of employment and are not employees per se. Furthermore, service with the AR and NSR is not pensionable under the Army Pension Schemes.
Heretofore, there was no provision in the Defence Acts to allow RDF personnel to be deployed overseas. However, as the Deputy will be aware, the Defence (Amendment) Act 2021 has now been signed into law, which serves to update the Defence Legislation on the use of the RDF on a voluntary basis, on-island and overseas in support of the Permanent Defence Force.
On foot of the enactment of the Defence Amendment Act, I gave a commitment to liaise with the Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) on the issue of employment protection for RDF members who might be engaged in voluntary military service in support of the PDF going forward.
I wish to advise the Deputy that engagement at official level with DETE on this matter has been initiated with a view to identifying the most appropriate steps. This matter will require careful consideration and will ultimately also involve an open and honest dialogue with employer bodies. The Deputy will appreciate that I do not wish to comment further pending the outcome of these initial discussions at official level.
In addition, as the Deputy will be aware, the Report of the Independent Commission on the Defence Forces, published on 9 February 2022, includes proposals on the role and contribution of the RDF. There is a process underway to consider these recommendations in consultation with Ministerial colleagues and stakeholders. The intent is to revert to Government with a proposed response and a high-level action plan in advance of the summer recess.