Committee on Finance. - Vote 57—Defence.

Thursday, 3 March 1960

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 179 No. 8

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Aire Cosanta (Caoimhghín Ó Beoláin): Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  Tairgim:—

Go ndeonófar suim fhorlíontach nach mó ná £32,000 chun bheith mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1960, chun Óglaigh na hÉireann (lena n-áirítear Deontais-i-gCabhair áirithe) faoin Acht Cosanta, 1954 (Uimh. 18 de 1954) agus chun Costas áirithe riaracháin i ndáil leis an gcéanna; chun Costas áirithe faoi na hAchtanna um Chiontaí in aghaidh an Stáit, 1939 agus 1940 (Uimh. 13 de 1939 agus Uimh. 2 de 1940) agus faoi na hAchtanna um Réamhchúram [1287] in aghaidh Aer-Ruathar, 1939 agus 1946 (Uimh. 21 de 1939 agus Uimh. 28 de 1946); chun Costas áirithe i ndáil le Boinn a thabhairt amach, etc.; agus chun Deontais-i-gCabhair do Chumann Croise Deirge na hÉireann (Uimh. 32 de 1938).

Is é cuspóir an Mheastacháin Bhreise seo chun soláthar a dhéanamh do na méaduithe ar Phá an Airm atá tar éis a gceadaithe le héifeacht ón 15ú Nollaig, 1959. Sa bhliain airgeadais seo cosnóidh na méaduithe sin £72,000 agus, ag féachaint chun airgid a bhfuiltear ag coinne lena shábháil sa Vóta i gcoitinne, is é méid an Mheastacháin Bhreise ná £32,000.

Méadaíodh pá na n-oifigeach de réir mar a méadaiodh pá na Statseirbhísigh, agus sna scálaí is mó don lucht pósta, téann na méaduithe ó £41 sa bhliain do Dhara-Lefteanant go £134 sa bhliain do MhaorGhinearál. Fairis sin, méadaíodh pá gairmiúil, foirmeacha áirithe de phá breise agus, fós, an liúntas a ghabhann le héide a athnuachan. Tuairim is £70,000 so bhliain costas na méaduithe a deonadh d'oifigigh.

I gcoitinne, méadaíodh pá na bhfear de réir mar a méadaíodh pá na noifigeach agus, san am céanna, cuireadh san áireamh, freisin, luach na gciondálacha agus lucht na héide, etc. Téann na méaduithe pá ó 10/6 sa tseachtain do Mhaor-Sháirsint go 5/3 sa tseachtain d'earcach. Méadaíodh de 1/2 sa tseachtain, breisíochtaí pá fad-seirbhíse, atá iníochta tar éis cúig bliana agus deich mbliana seirbhíse, agus méadaíodh de 3/3 sa tseachtain an liúntais do mhná saighdiúirí pósta. Tuairim is £192,000 sa bhliain costas na méaduithe a deonadh d'fhir.

The purpose of this Supplementary Estimate is to provide for the increases in Army pay which have been approved with effect from 15th December, 1959. The cost of these increases in respect of the current financial year is £72,000 and, regard being had to anticipated savings in the Vote generally, the amount of the Supplementary Estimate is £32,000.

The pay of officers has been increased [1288] on the same basis as that of civil servants, the increases in the maxima of the married scales ranging from £41 a year for a second-lieutenant to £134 a year for a major-general. In addition, professional pay and certain forms of additional pay have been increased, as also has uniform replenishment allowance. The annual cost of the increases for officers is £70,000 approximately.

The pay of men has been increased generally in the same proportion as that of officers, the value of emoluments—rations, uniform, etc.—being also taken into account. The increases in pay range from 10/6d. a week for a Sergeant-Major to 5/3d. a week for a recruit. Long-service increments, payable after five and ten years' service, have been increased by 1/2d. a week and the allowance to wives of married soldiers by 3/3d. a week. The annual cost of the increases for men is £192,000 approximately.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Denis O'Sullivan  Zoom on Denis O'Sullivan  We agree to this Estimate because it is essential that the Defence Forces, in company with so many other sections of our people, should be given this increase in income that arises from the substantial and steeply-rising increase in the cost of living in recent years. We agree to this Estimate but I would point out that it is completely contrary to the policy of the Government at the time the food subsidies were withdrawn and when they informed the Dáil they would resist with all their power any effort to come back and force the State to pay higher salaries and wages consequent on any repercussions due to the withdrawal of food subsidies.

We have repeated Estimates—the annual Estimates were increased and Supplementary Estimates were introduced—purely because of the Government's action (1) in failing to control the cost of living and (2) by causing the cost of living to rise so steeply, consequent upon the withdrawal of food subsidies. Those who hoped it would be possible to curb the expenditure of the State as a result of the withdrawal of food subsidies now see the results of the unwise action of the Government.

[1289] This House is now called upon to face repeated Estimates and Supplementary Estimates to meet the charges falling on each Department arising out of the Government's action in failing to control the cost of living. Bear in mind that those for whom we cater in those Estimates do not represent all the people in the country. Nevertheless, when the occasion arises, we should try to ease the burden from falling too heavily on these people as reflected in the information which this House received that there has actually been an increase of 5½d. in the 2 lb. loaf since this Government assumed office. Consequently, we must do our utmost to cushion the people against the impact of the steep increase in the cost of living. It is with that consideration in mind that we feel the Supplementary Estimate should be passed.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I take it that on a Supplementary Estimate of this kind, we are restricted to the subject matter of the Estimate very closely. We accept the Estimate in consequence of the necessary decision to which Deputy O'Sullivan has referred.

I wonder if it would unduly widen the scope of the debate to inquire of the Minister whether there is a change of policy in the matter of the location of the Army? Possibly this might be brought up on the general Estimate. I suggest that as we are voting considerable additional sums of money, it is legitimate to direct the Minister's attention to a point of view which I think calls for explanation. I get the impression that there is a tendency in the Army to draw away from relatively rural centres and to concentrate their personnel in urban centres.

Where the Army was stationed in a relatively small post, their presence made a very substantial contribution to the economy of the area. Money of the kind voted here for payment to the Army personnel did fructify in increased trade and business to a disproportionate degree where the Army was located in a relatively small centre of population. As the Army is drawn into larger centres of population, such as our cities, the contribution to the economy is [1290] relatively unimportant to these centres. Is there any departure from——

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  No. Perhaps the Deputy will give me an example of what he has in mind?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I frequently visit Clonmel. I notice that a substantial part of the Army stationed in Clonmel has been moved out of it deliberately and that the post there now is largely one of married men. There are very fine buildings there. In the past few years, a great deal of public money was spent on them. Actually, a new church was erected there for the Army post. That may be an isolated case— I do not know. It seems to me that if we are voting large sums of money which would produce very substantial benefit if they were paid to Army posts in relatively small centres of population, it is a mistake to pursue a policy of drawing the Army into large centres of population.

It would be better from an economic point of view and for the morale of the area that the Army should be kept more in touch with the people as a whole by the occupation of semi-rural barracks, although the barracks at Clonmel is not a rural barracks. Clonmel is a city with a Charter. However, it is a smaller city than Limerick. I do not know if that has happened in other centres in the country.

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  It has not happened there, either.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Has the bulk of the personnel not left it?

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  No. There has been no significant change in numbers. There has been a change in the status. There is no longer a battalion there but the numbers are substantially the same.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Does the Minister say that it does not affect that post to have a change?

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  Very slightly.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I take it the Minister is telling me there is no intention to pursue a policy of removing the [1291] Army from the quasi-rural stations? Is there any intention to concentrate the battalions at headquarters?

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  No. There has been a reorganisation of the Army generally.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Perhaps the Minister would answer my query generally?

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I should like to take this opportunity of making a comment on the conditions of the ordinary rank and file of the Army. In doing so, I should like to say that I make this observation out of no disrespect whatever for the Irish language. We on this side of the House believe in the Irish language. We further express the hope that eventually, not through compulsion but through proper methods of voluntary teaching, and so on, the Irish language will be the spoken language of our people.

I want to say that, in so far as the Army is concerned, it is being used as the dumping-ground for the Irish language. The ordinary soldier in the Army is expected to respond to orders in Irish. He is expected to click his heels on orders in Irish. He is expected to carry out his route marches and he is expected to perform every act and duty through the medium of Irish. The Minister has certainly left nothing undone to stuff Irish down the necks of the young men in our Defence Forces. I feel that if he were to devote the energies he is devoting——

Acting Chairman (Mr. Cunningham): Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  This Supplementary Estimate deals with pay and allowances and the line the Deputy is taking is not relevant.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I am well aware of the fact that this Estimate deals with pay and allowances. I want to deal with the men who are to get this pay and these allowances. The Minister would be doing a much better service for this country if he concentrated his energies upon giving even greater pay to the members of the Defence Forces, if he gave them allowances greater than have been provided for in this Estimate or in [1292] any other Estimate we have had before us. Instead of doing that, the Minister has devoted most of his energies towards trying to stuff Irish down their necks. I want to forewarn the Minister——

Acting Chairman (Mr. Cunningham): Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  The Deputy is now out of order.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I want to forewarn the Minister that this is one of the items with which he will be confronted when his main Estimate comes up. I want to take this opportunity, since it is the first I have had, of protesting against this bulldozing of the language down the necks of the members of our Defence Forces.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  I did not intend to speak but, having heard Deputy O.J. Flanagan, I have some comment to make on this Estimate. This is an Estimate in relation to the pay of the Army. The pay of the Army is graded according to rank. I think it would be well that young men joining the Army should know that when they go into the ranks, they will never come out of them. They can never be anything but non-commissioned officers, unless they belong to the new Brahmin class.

We used to condemn the British years ago for their methods and for their old school tie attitude. It used to be held up that they recruited an army in India of the natives, as they called them, who could never attain commissioned rank. Now we are creating a low-caste native here in Ireland. The English-speaking Irish boy who joins the Army has no chance of promotion to commissioned rank, according to the answer the Minister gave me last week. I think that should be remedied because we were always led to believe that it is not for academic qualifications that men were promoted. It was because they looked the type that would make better soldiers.

I would agree with Deputy O.J. Flanagan that the Minister is carrying his policy too far. Any Irishman who joins the Army, whether he speaks English or Irish, or both, should have an equal opportunity of promotion. I do not want words put into my mouth. [1293] What I am saying is this. I was told by the Minister last week that nobody can be promoted unless he gets a cadetship and to obtain a cadetship, he has to be proficient in the Irish language. I do not think that is right, but as the Minister considers it is right, then I consider that the Minister should recruit only from people who are proficient in the language. I shall have more to say on this when the Minister brings in his Estimate.

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  Most of the points made did not refer, I think, to the Supplementary Estimate. With regard to these increases, of course they have no connection whatever with the withdrawal of the food subsidies.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Of course, they have.

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  The last round of wage increases was not, generally speaking, related to the cost of living at all and the decision to grant increases to the different branches of the State service was consequent upon the last round of wage increases. With regard to Deputy Dillon's question as to whether there was a change of policy or not with regard to the location of the Army, there is no such change of policy.

There was a reorganisation of the Army involving the integration of the F.C.A. This did involve certain changes but the general effect of any changes will not in any way diminish the numbers stationed in provincial centres. In fact, the over-all effect is that there will be more members of the regular Army now out with the F.C.A. Therefore, there will be an over-all increase in the numbers stationed in provincial centres.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Does the Minister regard cities like Cork and Limerick as provincial centres?

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  No, I do not. I am thinking of rural centres. With regard to the particular case of Clonmel, the new scheme of organisation involved a reduction in the total number of regular battalions. One of the main reasons for that was that these battalions had never been fully up to strength. Therefore there was no longer a battalion stationed in Clonmel but [1294] there is an equivalent number of personnel stationed in Clonmel. The battalion headquarters was changed to Limerick but there are two companies stationed in Clonmel of comparable strength with those there previously.

The only other point raised was the attack on the continuation of the policy of all Governments of trying to expand the use of the Irish language. I know that certain Deputies have been preparing themselves to launch an attack on that policy but I have no apologies to make for it. Nobody suffers any hardship whatever due to my attempts to bring the policy that has been pursued in this State over the years to some kind of fruition with regard to the Defence Forces.

There is no difficulty whatever in recruits or soldiers understanding the ordinary military commands spoken in the Irish language. It is just as easy to understand them in Irish as in English. I am very glad to say that no difficulty whatever has been found in that respect. There is a certain amount of success already to be seen with regard to that attempt.

With regard to the question of cadetships, Irish has always been an essential subject for cadetships. I do not take any credit whatever for introducing that. That has always been the position. It may be that the system which Deputy T. Lynch proposes of direct promotion from the ranks might be a better one but the military people have never thought that and it has never been the position. There was a certain amount both prior to and since the Emergency. Appointments to commissioned rank have always been made as a result of competitions for cadetships.

A certain standard of education is laid down there. That standard is thought to be necessary by the military authorities in order that the cadet may learn the different military subjects and qualify to become a commissioned officer. So far from their being a bar on non-commissioned officers or private soldiers obtaining cadetships, a certain number of vacancies each year is reserved for serving members of the Defence Forces but they must also reach the same standard of education [1295] as applicants from outside. There is no innovation whatever in that regard.

In regard to the promotion of the Irish language within the Defence Forces, I think it is about time that some use was made of the amount of Irish that has been taught in the schools since the foundation of the State up to now. The position at present is that the vast majority of the officers in the Army are men who acquired a competent knowledge of Irish at school. They have found no difficulty in carrying out their duties through the medium of Irish but a knowledge of Irish, or competency in Irish, is not an essential qualification for promotion. It has been found possible to give all instruction in the Military College through the medium of Irish. Nobody has experienced any difficulty in that respect. That, of course, is because it is the more junior officers, generally speaking, who are undergoing courses there, but I am absolutely satisfied that, while the attempt that is being made to expand the use of Irish in the Defence Forces is meeting with some success and therefore is going some way towards putting the policy of the State into operation, there is no injustice being done to any person in the Army on account of that.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Would the Minister not agree to have it optional so that if an officer in the Defence Forces wishes to give commands or speak in Irish, he may do so but if he wants to carry out his duties using the English language he may also use that language?

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  Surely no Deputy will suggest that there is any difficulty in giving the ordinary words of command in Irish?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Surely it is rather odd that while, as the Minister now tells us, all instructions in the Military College are to be given through the medium of Irish, Irish is not the vernacular of a great many of the students in the College? Does he seriously suggest that the entire course of the Military College can be given, to best advantage, to a body of young [1296] officers, the vast majority of whom may know the Irish language but for whom it is not their vernacular? Does the Minister really think that is consistent with good Army administration?

Mr. K. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland  Zoom on Kevin Boland  All of them have a competent knowledge of Irish when they come into the Army. That has been a condition since the system of cadetships was first started. There has been no difficulty whatever in their assimilating instruction in these military subjects through the medium of Irish.

Vote put and agreed to.


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