For Oral Answer on : 06/10/2022
Question Number(s): 115 Question Reference(s): 48914/22
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 20 of 10 March 2022, if the engagement with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on the issue of employment protection for members of the Reserve Defence Force who may be engaged in voluntary military service in support of the Permanent Defence Forces has concluded; the number of virtual and in-person official meetings, respectively that have taken place between his Department and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment on this issue; the dates of any such meetings; the measures that he expects to be put in place as a result of this engagement; the anticipated timescale for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The primary roles allocated to the Reserve Defence Force (RDF), thus far, have been to augment the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) in crises and to contribute to State ceremonial events. 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 PDF and where it is in the best interests of the PDF.
On the important matter of employment protection for members of the Reserve who may be so engaged on a voluntary basis, I wish to advise the Deputy that engagement by my officials with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE), commenced with a series of both phone calls and virtual meetings held on 5 November 2021 and 21 March 2022. The contribution from officials in DETE on this matter has both informative and welcome. With their continued assistance, engagement is also underway between my officials and both employer and employee bodies on this matter.
In addition, the Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar,TD, wrote to me on 24 November 2021, lending the continued support of his Department to the ongoing deliberations, which I welcome.
On the basis that this body of work is continuing, the Deputy will appreciate that I do not wish to comment further at this time pending the outcome of these discussions.
In tandem, I would also advise the Deputy that there is ongoing engagement by my officials with the military authorities and on an informal basis, with RDFRA, the Representative Association representing the RDF, on a range of practical and operational matters associated with the deployment of the RDF on a voluntary basis, in support of the PDF.