Committee on Finance. - Vote 43—Defence (Resumed).

Tuesday, 9 March 1965

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 214 No. 10

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Debate resumed on the following motion:

Go ndeonófar suim nach mó ná £6,959,800 chun slánaithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an mhurir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na [1557] bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1966, le haghaidh Tuarastail agus Costais Oifig an Aire Cosanta, lena n-áirítear Seirbhísí áirithe atá faoir riaradh na hOifige sin; le haghaidh Pá agus Costais Óglaigh na hÉireann; agus chun Deontas-i-gCabhair a íoc.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I just want to make two or three observations on this Estimate. One is that I am concerned about a situation, in which I believe the Minister sympathises with me, that relates to a serving soldier who contracts a disease while in the service and as a consequence thereof is released from the Service on grounds of ill-health. The illness is not directly attributable to his service. Nevertheless, he enters the Army as a man in the whole of his health. He falls ill. The Army determines that the nature of his illness is such that he is unlikely thereafter to be able to endure the rigours of Army life, and they let him go. That chap goes home and, as a result of the illness, he may be unable to do heavy work for years.

I recognise that some principle must be established founded on the principle that is in existence that where a soldier's illness is directly attributable to his Army service, he should be entitled to permanent pension so long as he is disabled, but where a soldier's illness is not directly attributable to his Army service, I think it is a hardship to turn him out and simply say: “Go home now” and it is not in line with the practice in the Civil Service. The practice in the public service is that if a member of the Civil Service falls ill of a disease which is not in any way attributable to his service, he is on full pay for six months and he is on half pay for six months, and then if there is no prospect of his recovering, he is released from the service, but usually there is a very humane approach and he is given the credit of the longest possible period of sick leave before this machinery begins to operate.

I cannot see, when we take a young chap into the Army, that he is not entitled to at least the same consideration and it would make a great difference [1558] to a chap who comes home to a country home sick, if he were in a position to say to his parents, or whoever he was coming home to, that he was on full pay for the first six months and on half pay for the next six months but at any rate for the next 12 months he would not be a burden upon them.

I want to urge upon the Minister that the principle exists and is accepted throughout the whole public service. The financial burden on the Department of Finance would be microscopic, but it would be a very genuine evidence of interest in and solicitude for the ordinary soldier's welfare that such provision should be made.

I have the uncomfortable feeling that the zeal of the Department of Defence for the protection of the Exchequer is so great that there does tend to spread through the Army a feeling that money counts a great deal more than just treatment of the ordinary soldier and I am quite certain that that does not represent the feeling of Deputies. I think it is a great mistake to allow that atmosphere to grow. The feeling on all sides of the House would be that we do not think a serving soldier should be treated with that cold detachment which a strict Treasury approach would justify. We ought to recognise that serving soldiers are very directly in the service of the State and that this House in their regard represents the State. The soldiers are in a very special sense the public servants of the State as distinct from the Government and the more we do to fortify and strengthen that view, the better I believe it is for the Army and the better it is for the community which the Army serves.

I am often struck by the fact that the splendid tradition of discipline in our Army is such that they accept philosophically a great many vexatious regulations which other branches of the public service have machinery for remedying through their present machinery of arbitration and conciliation. It is manifestly not possible to introduce arbitration and conciliation into the armed services of the State but our inability to make that kind of provision for the serving soldiers ought to put upon us here a corresponding [1559] sense of obligation that we should be peculiarly solicitous to see that any unreasonable handicap applying to their service is recognised and remedied by us as promptly as it would be if the machinery of arbitration were available to the serving soldier.

I do not want to make the case that I regard the Department of Defence as being inhuman and so forth. The Minister for Defence is, perhaps, too much directed by the Treasury approach to the Army. He has an obligation to constitute himself a more aggressive champion of the rights of the serving soldier as against the Treasury than it appears he has done in the past. In the specific case to which I refer, I suggest the Minister should say that any soldier who becomes ill while in the service of the State, if his illness is not directly attributable to his service, should be entitled to treatment not less generous than that which is habitually accorded to a civil servant.

I was shocked recently when the Minister read out the answer to a question put down by a Deputy as to whether it was true that serving soldiers in married quarters in barracks in Dublin had to get power plugs installed at their own expense in the married quarters which they inhabit because it was not an Army practice to provide power plugs in the married quarters of the Army in the city of Dublin. I do not believe there is a Deputy in this House or a rational person in the country who believes there is any authority here setting accommodation to tenants anywhere, other than oneroom tenement houses, who would expect the tenant to take up his residence without a power plug. Just imagine a woman with a family of children and a husband, who cannot use an electric kettle, who cannot use an electric heater in her room where there are children going to bed or where a baby may be sick. Think of all the uses that an ordinary person makes of a power plug and the convenience it is to have it and the inconvenience it is to be without it.

These are the little things that make [1560] service in the Army exasperating not only to the serving soldier but to the officers who want to feel that they are making proper provision for the men who are serving under them. Some of the barracks in which we are housing soldiers at the present time were built before the Crimean war. Doubtless there have been adaptations made to them but buildings over 100 years old require a great deal of adaptation before they become agreeable surroundings in which to raise a family.

I suggest to the Minister that it is unreasonable and unrealistic to ask married soldiers to take up residence in married quarters where there is not as elementary a convenience as an electric power plug. I would ask the Minister to bear in mind that what may appear small matters all mount up into the kind of evidence which carries conviction to a soldier's mind that those who employ him are not much concerned with his welfare and, what is worse, must carry conviction to the minds of officers who resent that kind of treatment of their men, that their views are not given the kind of consideration which the officers of the Army should be entitled to.

I cannot doubt that these matters have been brought to the attention of the Minister for Defence by the Chief of Staff or by members of the Army Council, and I hope that hereafter the Minister will constitute himself a more aggressive champion of the Army in getting these amenities for the men which make all the difference between treating them like human beings and treating them like robots. There is nobody, as far as I know, in this House who feels detached from or indifferent to the Army. I am perfectly convinced that any Minister for Defence who asserts himself against the Minister for Finance in matters of this kind will find that he will have support from every side of the House in remedying such oversights.

Provision is made in Subhead AA of this Estimate on which I should like to ask the Minister for further particulars. It relates to military educational courses and visits and makes provision for £12,000. I do not know if that is the annual provision in this Estimate [1561] for staff courses abroad for the officers of our Army. There is a great danger in our circumstances of an Army of a small island State such as we are becoming more and more cut off from world developments in military science in a time such as that in which we live.

Almost every weapon system and every aviation system begins to be obsolescent on the day it leaves the drawing board, so rapid is the development in military science in recent years. Unless our Army is kept in constant contact with developments of the most up-to-date military powers, they will find themselves in an embarrassing situation when called upon to collaborate with the armies of other powers, particularly in United Nations work, in that they represent an obsolescent force which is simply not up to date with the developments that are taking place in military science throughout the world.

There is no means by which we can put at the disposal of our Army all the most recent discoveries of military science except through the Staff Colleges of friendly powers. I should like a reassurance from the Minister that adequate provision is being made for the officers of our Army of all ranks, from lieutenant right up to the top, to have adequate access to the Staff Colleges of friendly powers so that our Army may be fully informed of the practical application of all that is most modern in military science, strategy and tactics. The provision in this Estimate does not seem to me to be adequate for that purpose and it is one of the matters on which the Minister should be in a position to reassure us.

The Minister spoke of some equipment which had recently been secured and which the Army anticipated they would take back with them from Cyprus. He was referring possibly to a certain kind of armoured car. I want to put it to the Minister that it is of vital importance for the morale of our Army that they should have access to supplies of the best and most up-to-date armaments we can afford. Now that very well may mean that in certain [1562] branches of equipment, we may have to throw our hats at it and simply say, in regard to heavy artillery and certain other branches of equipment, that our Army is certainly not equipped and does not propose to enter into competition with other armies at all. But there might be a good deal to be said for taking a radical decision along those lines and saying that, in respect of those types of armaments with which we propose to supply our Army, nothing but the best is good enough.

That is one of the advantages of having a small Army. A small country can afford to equip it, albeit in certain restricted spheres, with really modern up-to-date equipment. Our obligation to participate in the United Nations peacekeeping operations reinforces, I think, the urgent need of putting our minds to that problem forthwith. I think a good point of departure would be to say: let us envisage the kind of assignment we will be prepared to accept from the United Nations for our Army and, for that strictly limited kind of assignment, we now propose to give them, and maintain hereafter, an equipment which will compare with that of any army in the world. In respect of the heavier armament, we must look to the United Nations to provide it, if that be required; but for the normal armaments necessary for the efficient prosecution of the kind of peacekeeping tasks our forces may be called upon from time to time to do, they should go to them with equipment that will compare with that of any other Army in the world. I think that is a reasonable stipulation.

If the morale of the Army is to be maintained, they are entitled to expect that their legitimate requirements, at least within that limitation, shall be provided by this House. I do not think that would impose an intolerable burden on the Exchequer, but I do suggest that, if this State is to maintain an army, it has got to face the fact that an army consists of more than men and uniforms and armaments. Perhaps the most important element in an army is its morale and no army can maintain its morale if it does not know that its officers are, [1563] first, keeping abreast of all that needs to be known in modern military techniques and, secondly, that for certain limited spheres of activity, its equipment is as good as that of any other army in the world.

I recognise at once that, once you have set that standard, you have to accept that these spheres of activity are strictly limited because we simply cannot afford to provide an army in every variety of armaments equal to the best. But I believe we could afford, within a carefully chosen, prudently delineated area, to provide them with the best; and I believe, if we do that, we will make the most effective contribution of which we are capable to morale and that, in my judgement, would be a very real service to an Army of which we have every reason to be proud.

Let me conclude on that note. One of the great dangers abroad in the times in which we live is that rising generations do not recognise the inestimable treasure that this State inherited in the morale of its Civil Service and its Army. The morale of the Army was born very largely in a period of voluntary service in which men undertook all sorts of fantastic labours and faced fantastic dangers because they were convinced of their patriotic obligation to serve their country without counting the cost. That tradition was carried over into the National Army and it is the taproot of the Army we have today. These splendid traditions need to be nourished and sustained by appreciation and the only way this Parliament has of expressing its appreciation of these standards of conduct is to communicate to the Army our genuine solicitude for the welfare of the officers and men.

Welfare of the Army is not primarily a matter of comfort and clothes and food and amenities, though these things ought to be there. The welfare of the Army, as I understand it, is principally the provision of access to knowledge and equipment which will enable officers and men to feel the equal of any army with which they are [1564] called upon to serve. I do not think we are doing all we could do to give effect to these objectives and I suggest to the Minister that he should bestir himself and consult with the Army Council as to what requires to be done and then see that it is done.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  I was very glad to hear Deputy Dillon express the sentiments he expressed in the latter part of his speech. I only wish he had made that speech during the period of the first Coalition at a time when the Army got a little bit of the same treatment as that meted out to the Aer Lingus transatlantic planes and other things. However, I will not go into that now. The fact is I am glad Deputy Dillon said the things he said tonight. I hope he means them. I hope that attitude will be maintained and I hope, having heard it from Deputy Dillon in the position he occupies as Leader of the Opposition——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I thought the Deputy was about to say “in the position he is about to occupy”.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  I have not the same illusions as the Deputy.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Deputy stumbled.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  I said “in the position he occupies”. I did not stumble. However, if the Deputy wants his little daydreams, he can have them I should hate to interfere with them.

I want to deal with this matter seriously. I am treating Deputy Dillon with all seriousness as Leader of the Opposition. There is now a clear implication that there is a measure of agreement amongst us as to the importance of the Army. In the light of that importance, there arises the question of equipping the Army and maintaining its numbers at an adequate level. More important still, Deputy Dillon did not hesitate to say, and I am glad of it, that he recognises there is a cost factor involved. Although there might be some argument as to what exactly is connoted in the limited areas to which he referred, in general terms I have to concede that the areas would be limited. I am glad we have got so [1565] far because I have heard too much criticism over the years of the size of the Defence Vote. We have had too much of the illogical criticism that too much is being spent and the very people who make the criticism complain that the Army is not paid enough.

One speaker made great play with the size of the increase in the Vote. Simultaneously, he talked about the remuneration of those concerned in the Vote. When one looks into the increases, one finds that essential things, such as remuneration of personnel and the provision of facilities for them, quite apart from equipment, represent a fairly sizeable proportion of the increase involved. You cannot have it both ways. I am glad Deputy Dillon, without getting down to agreements or disagreements on points of detail, agreed on a certain principle, which is important and which some of us have been trying to drive home for years in this House.

One of the difficulties about the Department of Defence always has been that defence being a contingent matter, it is all too easy to effect actual savings on the Vote in the course of the year. I do not want to delay the House with what I said a number of years ago, but I want to draw the attention of the Minister and the House to the debates on this Estimate which will be found in volumes 110 and 114 of the Official Report. Thinking over our experience during the Emergency and the things said and courses taken after it, one cannot help reflecting—defence again being a contingent matter, depending on what may happen— whether a great deal of responsibility is being assumed on the financial side, which may be crippling in an emergency.

Years have passed and I think I can disclose now that it fell to my lot on the General Staff to direct an examination of the history of the Defence Forces from the financial and equipment point of view before the war. I have no hesitation in saying it was an indictment that might have led to a serious position if the situation had [1566] gone against us afterwards. I will say no more than that. There was a very serious indictment in that history, and I have recorded it in volumes 110 and 114. My purpose in referring to it here today is simply to put that warning on the record for future occasions, if it is needed. The fact was that before the war the Army found themselves, when faced with the Emergency, barely with the personnel resources to mobilise and face it and completely without the equipment. As I say, the story as to why is already on record.

I want to make a few general points. Frankly, I have much less confidence talking of these matters now than I had 15 or 20 years ago when some of us were much closer to them. I have some qualms about going beyond general directions for the very reason that I have not got the information that I feel would enable me to do so. I will go again this far with Deputy Dillon. I think the provision of courses and contacts for our Army personnel abroad is an important one. I am glad it is being recognised as such in this House. We have to face it. We have two problems in the Army today. The first is a personnel problem. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get not only recruits but to get cadets.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  You cannot get a cadet into the Army without a fight that 40 could join in.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  I do not know about that.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  I do.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  I have heard certain anxieties expressed about the future in regard to the supply of officer personnel It has certainly been difficult to get recruits. Were it not for the fortunate fact from the Army`s point of view—not from other points of view, because I do not want my use of the word to be misunderstood— were it not for the fact that service abroad was available for recruits, I think the situation would be even worse. When the strength went below [1567] a certain level, that was a necessary consequence.

Pay and conditions are matters that must be taken into account also. I am glad to hear that this status increase will come into effect shortly. It will be a useful boost to morale, but there is more than that as far as the Regular Army are concerned. There are two problems which have always been problems in maintaining not only morale but in maintaining numbers and a standard of efficiency and, ultimately, they will have a very big effect on the right type of cadet material being available. I am referring to the prospects they have within the service and the age at which they retire.

I should like to make two suggestions to the Minister. In regard to the promotion of officers, it would pay to have a cadre larger than the peacetime establishment would appear to justify in order to supply the professional outlet and the incentive to an officer to climb the ladder and to hold out to him the prospect of a successful career. Secondly, I wonder about the age limit for the retiral of officers. I know the lower age limit for junior officers was brought in when people were thinking in terms of the young, active officer and felt that the so-called “dug-in” office jobs could be filled by older officers of a relatively junior rank, who would come from the Reserve. But I think that pattern is changing. Now we have not got the Reserve to do it. A proportion of these older officers will have these office jobs, barrack jobs and administrative jobs generally; but I do not think it unreasonable to suggest that the age limit should be shoved to some reasonable level comparable with civilian employment.

There is another factor that works here. In the old days, officers, when retiring, could hope to get employment but that opportunity is more or less receding in this world of specialisation. The opportunities for officers retiring now are rather less and are tending to become less than they were. It simply means that a regular officer who comes out after service will be living on his [1568] pension and the pension will hardly be enough to support and satisfy a man of that age with the commitments he is likely to have. Quite apart from the fact that he is a citizen, it is a very early age to put him on an early pension list. Where is he most likely to be most useful to the community? It is in the State service and the only place likely to be available to him in the State service is the Army.

I know there are problems in regard to blocking the way for younger officers coming up. There is a question of balance. But I would be prepared, in the circumstances as I see them, and also with reference to the Reserve, which I will mention, to carry a larger proportion of officers than has been customary heretofore and even in the older groups because there will be reason for them.

Coming to the other ranks, other people have dealt with the need for adequate remuneration and comfort for NCOs and men in comparison with civilian employment. The day has gone when the soldier was regarded as some kind of inferior being drafted into an organisation that takes him over completely and in which it is thought he may not be able to look after himself. The soldier is a citizen and should have equal rights and equal status with the rest of his fellow-citizens in the community which is in modern times levelling up to a certain classlessness, which is a good thing. He must, of necessity, from the nature of his job, be subjected to a restriction and discipline in excess of what the ordinary citizen will have to bear; therefore it is all the more important that his living conditions, standards and remuneration match the average of what is around him.

As I am talking about NCOs and men, I should like to mention another point to the Minister. I never could understand the logic of the fact that gratuities are paid to officers on retiring from the Army. Possibly there is some question of pre-discharge leave also but why should the NCOs and men not be treated on the same basis? I should like the Minister to consider whether a pre-discharge gratuity could be given to NCOs and men. They are perhaps liable to go out at a younger age and to need setting up in life at least as much [1569] as officers. Perhaps these are things that could be followed up with a question, if necessary.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Preceded by a question. I received very small change from the Minister on a question about that.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  There are ways of asking questions, if you keep after them.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  There are ways of answering them, too.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  I am raising the matter for the Minister's benefit because the comment has been made and representations have been made to the effect that there was a certain distinction between officers and NCOs, to the disadvantage of the latter.

Now I want to come to the question of the Reserve. To some extent, this is related to the question of officers and the establishment of officers and their retirement age. In the old days, there was what corresponded to the old First Line Reserve which consisted of officers and men who had been trained as regulars and who went on to the Reserve. In that capacity they were called for annual training and they were a group of pretty well trained personnel immediately available for embodiment on mobilisation. That category was significantly there up to the end of the last emergency. As I understand it, that category has dwindled and there has been very little replacement, or machinery for replacement, particularly where officers are concerned. There are still a number of officers of that period in that category but as far as I can gather no further effort is being made to supply such an element of reserve.

That is a serious situation from the point of view of a possible mobilisation. Admittedly, I am thinking in terms of a mobilisation. The fact is that the men and officers of the Reserve —in the first instance of the AA Reserve—who had regular service or service for something much more than anything like a local defence force service could be, or what corresponded to the old Volunteer service, proved [1570] absolutely essential for the 1939 mobilisation. On top of that, there was the so-called First Line Reserve and the Volunteer services. They were not as experienced. They had a certain amount of training but had not put in as many training hours as others.

Any of us who had experience of the 1939 mobilisation realise that if the Army had not got the old Reserve of that period, things would have been in a pretty mess. I remember battalions, like the 7th Battalion, which were reserve units, being able to mobilise as regular units and assume guard duties and duties of that nature which had to be done and also provide for officers to staff mobilisation depots. I doubt if the same thing were to happen in the morning that you would have the equivalent personnel. If you have not, what are you to do? I mention this not so much from the point of view of re-establishing that kind of Reserve, because things having gone the way they have I am in some doubt as to what could be done, but from the point of view of suggesting that the Regular Army officers who are kept on after age would be a useful adjunct in that regard.

Somebody mentioned promotions and Reserve officers in that connection. I agree that there is a tendency to have them overlooked. I do not want to take away from the FCA because I think the FCA will and must prove a very important element of the Defence Forces, but we still have to provide for an interim period during which they are being mobilised and integrated, no matter how much training they have done or how good they are. After they have been mobilised, quite possibly they will be required as a nucleus around which to effect a larger mobilisation. If you were to mobilise in the morning, you would still be faced with the same kind of problem as you had the last time. I should like to suggest to the Minister that that is all the more reason why it might be appropriate now or in the near future to have some indication of the lines on which his Department are thinking in regard to the overall picture.

[1571] We can very well believe that in regard to the Army proper, the role visualised will be somewhat similar to what it was in the past, mostly to supply the defensive needs of garrisoning and so forth in our own territory. That will have to be supplemented by such foreign service assignments as we have had in recent years. There is, however, another aspect to defence. The Army and other Defence Forces must function in a particular environment and that environment will depend on how, as a nation, we are prepared to meet a war emergency. A war emergency must be looked on from two points of view.

Before the last war, people had learned to look on such problems as the possibility of gas bombardments and conventional air raids. Now they talk about atom bombs. Our first approach is nowadays that the thing will be so sudden and quick that there is very little use spending effort and money to deal with it. One might, possibly with logic and cogency, pursue that argument. The answer, of course, is that if it is pursued, we should not have this Estimate here at all. We are to spend a large sum of money during the coming year and have spent it in past years. So we must take the other approach, the second one, and see what we are likely to have to face if the catastrophe of a war should come near us.

As I have said, the Army problems can be left to the officers and staff, but where do we stand with regard to preparing the civilian population for such a problem? Where do we stand in regard to the technical effort that will be needed to help the community to survive? It might be well if the Minister would give us some enlightenment on this matter, particularly on the problems of supplies and Civil Defence.

I refer to Civil Defence in particular because it is like any other voluntary service in that it will have but a small number active but that small number will be absolutely vital. They may be sneered at or joked about, but when the time comes they will be the nucleus of an essential service not only for the [1572] civilian population but also in conjunction with the military aspect. Civil Defence should mean something more than Civil Defence services themselves. Overall, there should be co-ordinated planning among a number of organisations with aims related one to the other in times of emergency—fire fighting, ambulance services like the Red Cross, the St. John Ambulance service, the Knights of Malta, the official Civil Defence organisation itself with its many ramifications throughout the local authorities, voluntary rescue service, Boy Scout organisations.

All these people have a potential which should be linked with our Civil Defence scheme. In order to link them, a great amount of preliminary staff work requiring large vision will be necessary. I should like the Minister to consider whether the time has now come when a broader overall view of defence in such times is not desirable. Somebody during the debate more or less sneered at the idea of radiation detected by Civil Defence people. I think that the provision of a number of people trained to deal with such an unusual problem is absolutely necessary. Just as we should recognise the importance of the voluntary military services such as the FCA, so, too, should we recognise the importance of voluntary Civil Defence and the other organisations I have mentioned.

Certain people would like to dismiss these problems by saying that if there is an atomic war, there is nothing we can do about it. That may be perfectly true, but there is a lot you can do in a situation closely approaching all-out atomic war. There may be an excessive radiation release in our vicinity but the radiation may be manageable. There could be conventional bombing such as in the last war involving all the risks of disorganisation of supplies and fire services. For all these things, overall planning of Civil Defence services is necessary. It is in such circumstances that these very public-minded citizens, who give their time to these activities in peace-time, will be found to be essential units in the fight for the survival of the community. We should recognise that [1573] point now, try to organise them, try to give them the training and the facilities necessary to make their work effective.

It will be interesting, in general terms, to hear what the Minister has to say about the present situation in regard to Civil Defence. Closely related to it is the problem of emergency supplies. There is one other problem I should like to draw to the Minister's attention. No matter what happens, if an emergency situation comes, there will be the need for a certain amount of improvisation in practically every field in the life of the community—Army, Civil Defence services, all kinds of civilian services and so forth. That kind of improvisation can supply a great deal of the things that will make life bearable to the community under the stress of such an emergency.

At the same time, it must be realised that despite technical effort the question of supplies cannot be left to the last moment. We had some experience in the relatively favourable circumstances of the last war when the Emergency Scientific Research Bureau and other bodies were charged with trying to solve certain problems of great temporary importance to health and defence. One type of such work became of great importance. It concerned the purification of water supplies for Irish cities. There was a threatened cut in supplies of chlorine for water purification. It did not materialise but the fact is that this organisation had under way, for nine to 12 months, work which made it possible to face that problem.

That is an example of the type of thing that could happen. The moral of that story is the need for overall staff planning for supplying such needs, mainly calling in these people who were immediately ready first; then embodying, on them, the reserves you had got and then using that to embody an emergency Army. Without those reserves and the provision for embodying them, you will not be able efficiently to organise an emergency Army.

I do not go into those matters today [1574] to discuss defence policy or defence mechanism but merely to emphasise the importance of present serving personnel and their morale; to emphasise that proper remuneration to them is essential for national defence and to suggest again that the retiring age limits might be reviewed in view of that situation. To complete the picture, I want to plead for the promotion of long-standing officers on the Reserves and even of readjustment of grants. Lastly, there is the question of the gratuities for the NCOs and men when they are retiring. All of these matters are essential to the morale of the Defence Forces.

I want to break right away, now, and to talk about the Equitation School. I listened with considerable interest to Deputy Cosgrave talking about the Equitation School and the horse. He has stimulated me into asking the question if this is a job for the Department of Defence at all. It might be as well to face up to this. We should keep in mind that the reason that military jumping teams and military horsemanship achieved the prominence and the interest it did was because in the days in which that happened the armies of the world depended largely on the horse and the armies were a natural nucleus for horsemanship. The Cavalry, the Artillery and Transport were all horsed. What was more natural than that good horsemen would come from cavalry regiments whose job, so to speak, was to live on a horse and fight on a horse? Therefore, it was a completely natural thing that jumping teams should evolve from that situation.

The 1920s and the 1930s were the heyday of our Equitation School. Our Transport and Artillery, at any event, and I think originally there was a small mounted unit, were horsed. It was natural that all Army officers had to ride. Horsemanship was an essential accomplishment of an Army officer and became a very natural complementary sport. The situation is very different today. From the military point of view, there is no horse, I think, in the Army. The transport is mechanised; the guns are mechanised. [1575] There are no cavalry. From a professional point of view, the ordinary officer is not required to know one end of a horse from another, let alone get on his back.

When there is all this talk about the Equitation School, I ask, in these circumstances, if the time has not come for some other Department of State to take over responsibility for this important activity. It is no longer a military one. All over the world, the Jumping Teams are now no longer exclusively military nor is even our own representation exclusively military. It is merely a traditional link that now leaves the horse in the Department of Defence. With that sobering thought, I raise the question whether it would be better for horsemanship, for our horses and for all that has evolved, if the Equitation School were transferred to some other Department—I was going to say the Department of Agriculture.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I thought the Deputy would say the Department of Transport and Power.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  It no longer has any horse in it, either. There are no horses in Transport.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  The Department of Posts and Telegraphs.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  The reason I mention the Department of Agriculture is that the horse is going off the farm as the tractor and machine take over. However, I would class the horse as an agricultural product and as related. There is a big industry here—our bloodstock industry. I do not want to digress from the Estimate for the Department of Defence but I just want to give this additional reason why it might be profitable to consider transferring the horse from the Department of Defence.

We have a very important industry here in our horses. The Irish horse is famous. The horse is becoming a sporting and a luxury animal rather than a working animal or a service animal. I am not competent to go into details [1576] on that front but, since the Irish horse is very important to the Irish economy and already is a very big item in the economy in other spheres rather than the Department of Defence, I feel it might be better if the show jumping and equitation activities were now transferred to a more appropriate place. That does not prevent any officer who has a penchant for horses or an interest in them from being interested in that sport. Indeed, I would encourage the Minister for Defence to facilitate that officer as he would a footballer or anybody else in his sport. I would go so far even as to say that honorary or nominal commissions could be given to representatives. In a modern Defence Department, especially one such as ours, with limited resources, the question arises whether the Equitation School is appropriate in that sector at all.

Having said that about the Equitation School, I want to move to some slightly broader aspects of Defence. Things have changed a great deal since the last war. It would be a great mistake to approach the defence problems of the day merely by going back to experiences during the past Emergency, that is, to try to interpret what would happen. Matters relating to mobilising personnel, and so on, may have certain common factors, as I have said, but, after that, it would be dangerous to parse too closely in the light of the last Emergency. Medical services and other things are tied in with Civil Defence. It would be interesting if the Minister for Defence in his annual Estimate were to give some short progress reports in regard to some of these matters. It certainly would stimulate interest in defence and it would also help to show personnel who are engaged in these activities that an interest is being taken in them. It would boost their morale and spur them on to give greater service, which they are giving free, gratis and for nothing.

Lastly, I come to the question of equipment. That is always a difficult matter, but I would ask the Minister, in the light of previous experience, to be on his guard constantly. I am not blaming anyone particularly for this. There has always been a certain [1577] temptation in dealing with Defence Estimates to make provision for equipment and then somehow or other the equipment does not come. The money is saved but the net result is you have not got the equipment. I feel it is no harm after a lapse of years, to mention that danger while, at the same time, freely conceding that the indiscriminate buying of equipment is not to be encouraged. We are glad to recognise that the equipment of the Army, new rifles and so on, has gone ahead and it is encouraging to see that new weapons are in the hands of soldiers when it is quite possible a good excuse could be made for continuing with older types of weapons. Let us be fair about that.

I shall finish practically as I began by reference to what was said generally, that is, debates which took place during the war and I mention volumes 110 and 114 in particular. The reason I do so is that I think that by going back to these things for a moment, we shall be stimulated to ask questions. There have been many improvements but there are still things which might be done. I am glad the Leader of the main Opposition took the course he adopted on this Estimate and did not pursue the line, taken by others, that the Estimate was excessive. It is a good thing that it is realised that the provision of these services, and what is needed to maintain them, whether personnel, remuneration or equipment, is essential and does entail expenditure. What I cannot understand is the attitude of people who want more expenditure and, at the same time, complain about the size of the Vote. I am glad Deputy Dillon did not put himself in that category which is an easy one for people in the Opposition to find themselves in.

I have missed one point. I should like to ask the Minister about electricity supplies in married quarters. Is it a fact, when these houses were being rewired, that the wiring had not the carrying capacity necessary for the installation of plugs? I ask that question because I have seen warnings about the danger of installing plugs. If these houses were rewired simply [1578] for lighting, I think an explanation is needed. I mention this matter in order to give the Minister an opportunity of supplying the information because I think that, whatever the arrangements made for paying, if families are being brought up in these houses they should have facilities for installing plugs. I can understand the case being made that they can instal the extra plugs themselves, but I do feel they are entitled to have the basic wiring and supply laid on to enable them to instal the plugs. If the rewiring of these married quarters was simply for lighting, then I think the matter should be looked into again.

Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan  Zoom on John Geoghegan  It has been agreed, and rightly so, by our side of the House that we should congratulate the Minister and his Department as well as our Army serving on foreign fields. They certainly have brought great honour to our country, both in the Congo and in Cyprus, and we should feel very proud of them, indeed.

It was not my intention to intervene in this debate at all but there are a few problems I should like to bring to the Minister's notice. Looking through the Estimate, I was hoping that this year I would see some money put aside for the building of an Army Chaplain's house in Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa Barracks at Galway. So far, no house has been provided and the Chaplain there is housed in married quarters. The Army personnel feel it awkward from time to time if they want to see him on private business and they would feel much happier if the Chaplain had a house where they could go and discuss their problems with him in a normal way.

Secondly, the question of pay increases has been awaited for quite a while in the Regular Army, as well as an increase in the yearly grants paid to the Reserve. I should like to ask the Minister to look at this and see whether the matter can be speeded up. A certain amount of agreement has been reached in regard to remedying the situation.

The reason I got on my feet was that a question was asked of the Minister lately regarding the helicopter service. I feel possibly something could be done about them and that they should [1579] be left in the hands of Army personnel themselves. The Minister stated that helicopters cannot operate by night, except in certain circumstances. I feel the Army Corps could visit the islands off the coast and pick out landing places where the helicopters could land if a fire or a flare was lit by a warden in the case of an emergency. A person on one of these islands may not take ill until night so the helicopter could not possibly land without some kind of flare.

I am sure there are plenty of places in the islands generally where a landing flare or a fire at night would guide the pilot of a helicopter and enable him to pick up a patient and bring him to the mainland. When the helicopter reaches the mainland it can land anywhere provided there are no high tension wires. There are many barracks in the west and it could be arranged that a helicopter could land at any one of them.

The refuelling of helicopters is another problem. A helicopter can refuel in Dublin, I understand, travel to an island off the west coast with a tank of fuel and can then return to the mainland. Of course, it may not be possible to stay out for long. I feel, that in a barracks, such as Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa, a reserve fuel tank should be kept in readiness. As far as I know, there is one in Castlebar at the moment but that is a bit far north, to my mind, for the Aran Islands and other islands to the south. If such a reserve fuel tank were kept in all the barracks it would be a good thing. A reserve fuel tank should be available so that it could be employed in case a helicopter had to come down.

There are many barracks scattered all over the west of Ireland. The Army should find out if there are landing places on the islands where a flare could be lit in the case of an emergency. The helicopter could land there and then return to the mainland. I hope the Minister will look into this matter.

Mr. N. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  Tomorrow I shall be leaving for the USA. In the course [1580] of my tour, I shall have the privilege of addressing Senators and members of the Legislature in Des Moines, Iowa. In the course of that address, I shall take great pride in referring to the very high status and respect that our soldiers have gained in serving overseas. I shall not be slow to remind them, as the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy reminded us in this House, that 26 of our soldiers gave their lives in the cause of freedom and liberty in the Congo. I shall not be slow to remind them that our soldiers are now serving in the cause of liberty and freedom in Cyprus; that all are volunteers; that all, poorly paid as I think they are, not given the status and recognition which I consider they should get, will still volunteer and offer, if necessary, their lives in the cause of defending peace, in the cause of liberty and in the cause of everything every true Irishman must stand for. Certainly, the activities of our soldiers abroad have given every Irish public representative something he can proudly talk about. Their contribution to the work of the United Nations, in proportion to the size of our country, has been a very great one.

I agree with previous speakers that the pay afforded to the officers, NCOs and men in the regular forces is inadequate. I believe, in our buoyant economy where we are spending more and more money in very many fields of activity, that we are not providing sufficient money to recompense these men, whose status has increased, whose responsibilities have increased and who continue to fulfil the great role they are being called upon to play in modern international circumstances.

When our newly appointed Cardinal came back from Rome, it was made clear that we in Ireland have the same role to fulfil today as we had to fulfil after the fall of the Roman Empire when Europe was without authority or proper central administration and when order was restored as a result of the labour of our Irish missionaries who went abroad. We have such a role to play still in bringing unity and peace, not only to Europe but also to the world. [1581] Our voice in the United Nations, as a result of the service of these soldiers, is far stronger and far more effective than we could ever dream of having regard to the size of our country.

The last speaker referred to the grant for officers, NCOs and men in the Reserve. As far as I know this grant has not been increased since the creation of the Reserve. I know also that officers of the Reserve, the men and NCOs cannot hope to get promotion no matter how hard they devote themselves to keeping themselves up to date with modern techniques and modern methods of leadership. If they retire with the rank of Captain they will serve their reserve period as captain only and never hope to become a commandant. They cannot hope for any increase in pay according to the practice in force heretofore. I should like to ask the Minister, in particular, to consider increasing the Reserve grant.

Reference was made to electric plugs in Cathal Brugha Barracks in my constituency. These references were made by men very familiar with plugging. I shall not pay too much attention to them because the references were made by men who would plug any Republican 40 years ago.

I should like to ask the Minister to consider the set-up in the Army barracks in the city. Those barracks are now so situated that one atomic bomb could kill every soldier living in them. I should like the Minister to consider taking a site in County Dublin, and building a new barracks with clubs and modern accommodation, at Palmerstown, shall we say, or somewhere outside the immediate city limits. I am quite sure Cathal Brugha Barracks in my constituency, if sold as a development site, would pay for the construction of a new modern barracks on the outskirts of the city. I seriously believe that the facilities afforded to the soldiers in these old barracks are such that no matter how much money is spent on improving them, they will never make decent quarters for good soldiers.

I was told on this Estimate about two years ago that some study was [1582] made of our atomic defences, our defences against nuclear weapons. The Minister said he had considered publishing a booklet on this type of defence. Apparently in his wisdom he has decided—or he has been advised— that the publication of such a booklet would not be in the best interests of the community. I should like him to tell me, and to tell the House, what brought about the decision not to publish this booklet. I seriously believe that the public in general should be educated on what they should do in the event of a nuclear war. We hope we will not be a target, but in the event that we are a target, no doubt Dublin city will be on the aggressor's plans. What are the people of Dublin city to do in the event of a nuclear war? I am informed that if Liverpool were a target, the people in Dublin city could easily find themselves victims of the bomb dropped there. Should the ordinary man in the street, the ordinary householder, take any precautions to protect himself and his family in the event of such a nuclear conflict?

I should like to join with Deputy Booth and other Deputies in saying that with the new agreement on territorial limits so far as fisheries are concerned, the Minister must give very serious consideration to extending the fishery protection services we have at the moment. I am aware of the difficulties with which the Minister is faced but, there again, as in the case of the Army, if the money were right, I think we would get the men. Furthermore, if a proper scheme of apprenticeship were established, under which recruits to the Naval Service could be qualified as fully qualified seamen to join any of the merchant fishing fleets, this might help the situation, and it would be like the scheme under which pilots are trained by the Irish Air Force to fly for commercial airlines.

I should like to go on record as agreeing with other Deputies who said that now that extended territorial limits are coming into operation, fishery protection must play a much more important part in the programme of the Department of Defence in the future.

[1583]Minister for Defence (Mr. Bartley): Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I have been a good deal enlightened by the debate on this Estimate as to what public thinking there is on this question in general. A number of Deputies, and particularly those who served during the Emergency, seemed to lay much more stress on the short-comings than on the advantages of our Army organisation. For the second occasion in succession, one Deputy has asked me to state why there is never what he terms a statement of general Army policy. He said:

An excuse is made from time to time that it would not be in the public interest for us to disclose State secrets but, when the whole question of Army policy is discussed in Washington, Westminster, Paris, Bonn and everywhere else without anybody's feeling that something frightfully secret is being discussed, I do not think we need be so shy about it.

Certainly we are being put in very good company in that list. I did not know that our defence position was quite so important, and in future I must have more regard to what this Deputy says than I have had in the past.

He continued:

I have never yet heard a statement of general Army policy. First of all, is the Army really a defence force and, if so, what in the name of all that is wonderful is it defending us against or against whom are we being defended? I believe that the thinking is still that, at some period in the future, there may yet be a danger of an airborne or a seaborne invasion.

As against that thinking on our defence problem, I have to place the statements made this evening by Deputy Dillon and Deputy de Valera who took what I would say is the exact opposite point of view. In between those two points of view, I should say lies the kernel of our defence problems in Ireland. We should have regard to whatever element of reality is contained in those two opposing points of view.

[1584] Having begun with that introduction, perhaps I might go back and start with the old soldiers, as Deputy MacEoin led off the debate on that particular responsibility of the Department of Defence. I know Deputy MacEoin's interest in those who served, and who were not backed by annual defence budgets, but who nevertheless managed to create and equip an Army, and put up a reasonably good fight with very poor material indeed.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  There was no defence policy announced, was there?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  It was ad hoc. Mark you, the ad hoc thinking was not always wrong. I have the greatest sympathy with Deputy MacEoin in the particular case he mentioned, both by question a few days ago and again in his remarks on the Estimate. I know there was a transfer in that case from one company to another and, between these two stools, the applicant seems to have fallen. All I could do was examine the evidence put before me and, as I have said on former occasions, if there is a reasonably plausible case, I am certainly in favour of giving the benefit of whatever doubt there may be to the applicant, but I do not think the evidence in this case enabled me to do that. I am telling the Deputy now that I shall personally look into the case again in view of what he has said about it.

I do not wish to stress the fact that there is as much of an obligation on me to ensure that people who have no claim to these medals or this recognition should not get it because that takes a good deal from the value of the prestige and merit of the recognition which good soldiers have earned. Deputy Sherwin suggested that medals awarded under the old system of verification should be re-investigated because, if we wait to investigate until the holders apply for special allowances, it may be too late as there may be no verifying officers alive. That is true, but the difficulty about acceding to the Deputy's request is that there are more than 40,000 medallists and perhaps 7,000 or 8,000 of these have been re-investigated under the new system for special [1585] allowances. Of the balance, we do not know how many are still alive; we do not know whether a man is alive until he applies for a special allowance but it can be taken that a very large number of them are still alive. Many of them will never apply for special allowances. To re-investigate all cases now would require a huge staff and is not feasible from a practical point of view. I am sorry to have to reply to the Deputy in these terms but we must recognise the facts of the situation.

Deputy Corry commented on men dying before their special allowances are awarded. He suggested the Department was remiss in dealing with claims. The special allowances scheme has been operating for 22 years and in that time only 540 applicants have died before their claims were decided. These cases were very carefully watched to see if there was any avoidable departmental delay and our records show that the majority of them are cases in which the applicants died in a very short time, sometimes within weeks or even days, of making their application or were cases which bogged down because of difficulty in establishing medal entitlement or even cases where there may have been avoidable delay but these were very much the exception.

Deputy Tully also complained about prosecutions on the ground of concealment of means. I dislike prosecuting old IRA men as much as Deputy Tully does for reasons such as this and I can assure him that I try to avoid it whenever possible. I cannot identify the case of which he spoke but I think his statement that only a very small amount was involved can hardly be true. The case is usually serious before we go to the length of prosecution.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  If the Minister had waited another six weeks, the man would have been dead and the trouble would have been saved. I know it is not the Minister's fault.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  These are the hazards in matters of this sort, but, taking these cases in relation to the very large number dealt with, the hazards have proved very few indeed.

[1586] I do not think any other Deputy dilated very much on the question of the treatment of the old IRA so I shall pass on to other matters. Deputy Tully suggested I had failed to give particulars of the actual strength of the Army. This allegation of concealing information about the Defence Forces seems to have been a bee in the bonnet of one or two Deputies. Deputy Booth was critical of what he called the lack of information. Deputy Tully complained about information concerning Army strength. I think he can get that information in published form, but if he has not seen it, these are the figures: 1,143 officers; 82 cadets and 7,000 other ranks. These are the figures on which we are basing the Estimate now before the Dáil.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Surely that is not correct for the Regular Army? Is it not The FCA, the Reserve and everything?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  No, the permanent Defence Forces we have at present. These are the figures on which I am seeking £10 million for the coming year.

Mr. Booth: Information on Lionel Booth  Zoom on Lionel Booth  Provision is being made for that strength but it does not necessarily mean that is the strength?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  It is the strength.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Frankly, I am amazed and glad to hear it.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  It is also the average strength we expect in the coming year. Deputy Tully and others commented on the poor rate of pay. I did not quite understand what he was getting at when he referred to what he described as mean rumours with regard to imminent increases in pay for the Army which he said were circulating for the past six months.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Since November, to be exact.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I was not aware of any such rumour even up to last week but the Deputy will now be glad to know that if such rumours were afloat, they were well founded.

[1587]Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I am delighted to hear it and I was delighted to see it in the evening papers.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  The Deputy will have the particulars in tomorrow's papers. I hope the recipients and the members of the forces will be pleased. In that connection, if Deputies examine the composition of the demand for the Department of Defence, they will see that practically threefourths of the demand represents personal payments. When Deputy Booth talks about the tools not being equal to the job, perhaps the tools, as Deputy Dillon pointed out, can be very expensive and if a preference must be exercised, then, in present circumstances, there is some excuse for exercising it in favour of the personal payment.

In this particular connection, of course, it is hardly fair for any Deputy to quote merely the spending pay which a soldier gets and compare it with the wages of a man in outside employment, without mentioning the other perquisites which a soldier has. Deputy Tully, as an old soldier, might have made some reference to the value of rations.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  On a point of order, I did not mention the serving pay. I mentioned no specific rate of serving pay. The Minister will see that. I referred to pensions and there is no ration allowance in the pension.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  That is not a point of order.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I got it in, in any event.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I will not argue with the Deputy as to precisely what he did say but he created the impression in my mind that he was decrying the lowness of the rate of pay——

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Yes, I was.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  ——and comparing what I call a soldier's spending pay with outside earnings and taking no account of perquisites which the outside earner has to provide for himself. Here are some of them: rations or ration allowances, accommodation, [1588] clothing, marriage and children's allowances, and such factors. I admit that there are children's allowances payable outside. These things cost money to the man who has to provide them himself and, in fairness, should be reckoned in any such comparison.

With regard to the pension the Deputy has just mentioned, again there is a factor which he might have brought into the reckoning. It is that a young man can join the Army at the age of 17 and certainly at 18 without anybody's consent and can get a pension after 21 years' service. That leaves him aged 38. A man of 38 who has had the benefit of Army training and Army life should be fairly in his prime when he comes out on pension and it is reasonable to assume that he will be drawing that pension for a much longer period than he has served in the Army. Anybody in outside employment who earns a pension earns it in the evening of his life and does not enjoy it for so very long. That is a factor in relation to the pension which the Deputy might have borne in mind.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  There are not many 38-year-olds retiring, as the Minister well knows. It is a good point.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  He can get his full pension after 21 years' service and he is still under 40 years of age. A man of 40 years of age, in Ireland, particularly a man who has served in the Army, cannot be counted an old man if he has had ordinary health.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Except that the State will not employ him after 40 years of age.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I do not think I could possibly agree with Deputy McQuillan and Deputy Tully in their recommendation of the abolition of courtmartial proceedings in cases of desertion or, in fact, in any case. It does seem to me that the fairest way to treat a soldier who has been a delinquent is to let him be dealt with by the Army. I think he will get a better deal from them than from any other sort of tribunal. These cases come to me only very rarely and my experience of them is that these [1589] courts deal very fairly indeed with them.

Deputy Cosgrave spoke on the question of equitation and Deputy de Valera spoke on it this evening also. There is a fair amount to be said for the viewpoint expressed by Deputy de Valera. I know that Deputy Cosgrave is very anxious to see that our Army Equitation Team should shine both at home and abroad as much as possible. They are not inhibited in any way by the Department of Defence. The Horse Purchasing Board has practically carte blanche to buy horses and if the Army have not got all the horses or the quality horses needed for success, then it is not due to any limiting factors which the Department of Defence as such has created. It is quite true, as Deputy de Valera said, that the horse for all practical purposes has no longer any significance in an army. We are, I think, the only country in Europe with an Army Equitation Team at the present time, although I am not absolutely sure about that—there may be others. Certainly, there are not more than two or three. All the countries seem to have got out of it. The Americans have got out of it also, and the British. Civilian equitation interests have taken over control of all these international competitions and they seem to be doing much better than any of the military establishments.

There is, as Deputies know, an investigation on foot under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture at the present time and that investigation will take within its scope the Army Equitation School and perhaps Deputy de Valera's recommendation may have results. I do not know. If the maintenance of the Army Equitation School is for the purpose of providing a shop window for the Irish horse, then what Deputy de Valera said is quite opposite. It is a job more suited to some other State agency than the Army. If, however, horse riding is only a sport, then I suppose we could look at it the way Deputy de Valera recommended and have it treated as such but there would be need, I imagine, in that kind of thinking, to democratise it.

There are quite a large number of lesser points which I do not think I [1590] should take up the time of the Dáil with now. I will give consideration to everything that has been said, no matter how trivial.

With regard to recruiting, I do not think it was quite fair for Deputy Booth to have said that the operation of a bonus system for the obtaining of recruits is nauseating. I think that is the word he used. The principle of a bonus did not originate with the fixing of the payment of £5. It has been, in fact, in operation for the past 13 years. About two years ago the amount was increased and other types of advertising for recruits were dropped. Somebody may ask: why not have carried on both in order to get better results? The answer to that is that we wanted to make a comparison between the type of advertising in practice formerly and this method. This has proved somewhat better but has not been altogether satisfactory, not from my point of view anyway. In reply to Deputy Booth's comment about proper advertising—“proper” is a word that Deputy Booth used very often—all I can say it that it was as proper as we could make it. We got advertising experts to do it and I do not think we failed in that respect.

With regard to what was said about district justices assigning delinquents to the Army, the Army does not accept anybody sent out of a district court. The very appearance of such an expression of opinion in a newspaper from a district justice gives the applicant a very poor prospect, indeed, of being accepted.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Did the Minister see the reference the other day after I mentioned it here?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I did not.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It was blazoned all over the evening papers.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I resent it as much as Deputy Tully does. Our Army is not an Army for jailbirds. A person cannot become an Irish soldier unless he is a man of known good character, and as soon as he is found out to be otherwise he is dispatched from the Army. I want district justices and all others [1591] concerned to note that. The very mention of the Army in connection with delinquency damns the prospective recruit's chances straight away.

With regard to the purchase of these two boats for Spike Island, all I can say is that we have conceded the need for this permanent connection between the mainland and Haulbowline in the interests of the steel industry. That necessitates the provision of two new boats to maintain contact with Spike Island. The launches we have cannot go under the proposed fixed bridge. I have no comment to make on that. I regret that it is so but the defence forces must be co-operative where industry is to be promoted.

Deputy Booth had a great deal to say about many things. Most of them were disparaging and a number of them were quite untrue. For instance, he spoke about our equipment. I admit that our equipment is not as up to date as one would see in one of the involved countries—I put it no further. He mentioned that we sent with our troops to the Congo anti-aircraft guns that were of no use what-soever and that were quite incapable of protecting the men on the ground even against low-flying aircraft.

Mr. Booth: Information on Lionel Booth  Zoom on Lionel Booth  May I make a correction? The Minister might quote me accurately. What I said was that we were asked for an anti-aircraft detachment; we could supply men but we could not and did not supply guns because the guns we had were ineffective.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  All right. I shall accept the Deputy's explanation but I want to stress the fact that we did not send out any anti-aircraft guns to the Congo.

Mr. Booth: Information on Lionel Booth  Zoom on Lionel Booth  I agree that we did not.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  As regards those who are pro and anti-Deputy Booth, on the one hand, and Deputy de Valera and Deputy Dillon, on the other, it is an ironic fact, with all this fine talk about equipment, that many of the 26 casualties in the Congo were caused by bows and arrows.

[1592]Mr. Booth: Information on Lionel Booth  Zoom on Lionel Booth  What does that prove?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  That Deputy Sherwin was right; they should have been wearing the breastplate.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  Is that why Deputy Sherwin advocated the breastplate?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  We have not, as Deputy Booth said, a great deal of capital tied up in antiquated equipment. We have antiquated equipment all right, but we have not invested nearly as much money in equipment as I should like to see done. However, as I mentioned earlier on we like to see the men get at much as possible out of Department of Defence expenditure.

The Deputy also complained that a regular officer will not salute a superior officer of the FCA. I have enquired about this and have been told that there is no evidence of any such transgression, that the hierarchy of precedence applies in the FCA as well as in the permanent Defence Force. Perhaps notice will be taken of the Deputy's remarks in the matter by all concerned and there will be no further cause for complaint, if there has been any.

Deputy Booth also referred to my reticence in regard to the Canada peace-keeping Conference. I did not feel that there was any obligation on me to make any reference to the Canada Conference for the reason that the matter was appropriate to the Estimate for External Affairs and that it had been dealt with in November. The Minister for External Affairs had given full information regarding the conference in reply to a question here on the 18th November last. The question of the Canada Conference was as much political as military and, in any event, where it would be a matter of the provision of overseas forces, such discussions are carried on by the Department of External Affairs on its own behalf and on behalf of the Department of Defence.

Mr. Booth: Information on Lionel Booth  Zoom on Lionel Booth  It would not affect organisation in the Army in any way?

[1593]Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  On the question of Army organisation, I do not know exactly what the Deputy means by using the word “policy”. It did seem to suggest to me that the Deputy had in mind that Irish defence policy in future would mean supplying a police force to the United Nations for overseas service. I take it that his use of the word “policy” in that connection was to indicate the method whereby such forces would be organised. I do not accept that simplified view of the obligations of the Department of Defence in Ireland yet. It may be that is the way the world is shaping, but I do not think that we should, particularly at our own expense, maintain forces here for no other purpose than to maintain peace all over the world. Several Deputies on both sides have given expression to that viewpoint here in the last few days. There is a great deal of substance, I think, in what they say, and the Irish people will be prepared, I am sure, to support and there will be sufficient young Irishmen to join Deputy Booth's flying columns, if the United Nations finds the money for them, but I do not think our small country ought to maintain a defence force for that one purpose alone. We have, I think, demonstrated quite well that we are prepared to make a fair contribution and, in fact, we have made more than our fair contribution, if one bases it on populations, both in the Congo and in Cyprus.

Mr. Booth: Information on Lionel Booth  Zoom on Lionel Booth  I thoroughly agree, but the units were not organised for the job.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  That is the Deputy's opinion. The Deputy, of course, has been very dogmatic in practically every opinion he has given with regard to defence matters, even down to company quartermasters' duties.

Mr. Booth: Information on Lionel Booth  Zoom on Lionel Booth  I happen to know a great deal about them.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I know but, after all, individual experience, even during the Emergency, was limited. It is all too easy for everybody to come along with a slant as a result of such limited experience. We have had plenty of [1594] evidence of that slant here from exmembers of the Defence Forces during the Emergency.

Deputy Tully referred specifically to the civil defence organisation. I think Deputy Booth also referred to it. I regret very much that any Deputy should cast any reflections on a fine body of men and women who are giving their time and services quite free——

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  Hear, hear.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  ——up and down the country. They believe the country may be in danger. They believe every country may be in danger because of atomic fall-out and they have come along, at the request of Dáil Éireann, and have joined these organisations. Deputy Tully as much as said that the figures I have given are bloated and exaggerated. He almost said, in fact, that these people are not there.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I said that exactly and I meant it. I did not cast any aspersion on those who are serving but I said there was no point in counting people who were not there and I should like the Minister to disprove that statement. I would ask him to give the breakdown for the counties.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I have the breakdown for the counties here. What are the figures for Country Meath?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Let the Minister give me the figures, if he wants to.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I will give the figures for County Meath. At the end of June last year the figure was 72. On 31st December it was 203; in that six months the figure had increased by 131 in County Meath.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  There are 26 counties and 27 local authorities.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Order. The Minister is replying, not Deputy Tully.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  These figures show a distinct improvement. In the six months from 30th June, 1964, to 31st December, 1964, the figure increased by 131 from 72 to a total of 203 volunteers. Training activities in the [1595] county have been intensified and extended. Exercises were held recently at two centres in the county — on 1st March, 1965, at Ceanannus Mór, which was just a few days ago and at which 63 volunteers attended, and exercises were also held at An Uaimh on 2nd March at which there was an attendance of 61. I think that is very creditable for the Deputy's county and he should think twice before he casts any aspersion on a fine body of men and women who are giving their services quite free.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I did not cast any aspersion. I said there were not 17,000 and I repeat it; there are not 17,000 in the Civil Defence Force in this country.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Order.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  In that event the Deputy makes a charge that the local authorities who supplied me with these figures have, in fact, given me false information.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  If the Minister got that figure from the local authority it is not correct.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  All right. The Deputy goes on record now as charging local authorities with supplying false information.

One of the hottest subjects at the moment is the question of sea fisheries protection. There has been quite a genuine interest, I admit, shown by everybody in this particular matter. I am quite prepared to accept the bona fides of Deputies who supply me with certain technical information but, nevertheless, I must also have regard to people whose business it is to advise me and who must be presumed to know something about the job they are doing.

While we have not got a Navy in the accepted sense of the word we do have a naval service inasmuch as we have armed boats which we employ for duties other than fishery protection, quite contrary to the trend of opinion expressed so often in relation to these boats. Let me specify. I have here eight duties mentioned, including fishery protection. The first is fishery protection; [1596] then there are air-sea rescue; marine rescue co-ordination; hydrographic survey; mine destruction and removal of wrecks and floating dangers to navigation; Air Corps Army cooperation; training of Irish merchant seamen and merchant shipping defence; training of fishermen in basic seamanship. Should there be a condition of hostilities these extra duties would fall on this unit; first, anti-submarine patrol of territorial seas; mine sweeping in territorial seas; the naval side of seaward defence of defended ports; control of maritime activities within the territorial seas; protection of fishing, etc; provision of protection for Irish merchant ships. For these duties the type of ship required would be anti-submarine vessels, coastal mine sweepers, in-shore mine sweepers and seaward defence boats. I have a note here from my naval advisers that an anti-submarine vessel for this role fits in with that of an all-weather vessel for fishery protection and the corvettes were, in fact, so designed for this purpose. I think it was Deputy Booth that put a figure of £1½ million on acceptable vessels. Deputy T. Lynch told me we can get a boat suitable for this purpose for about £150,000. Let me compromise and say we could get a vessel at £1 million.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  No.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  My advisers tell me that for the extended limits we would require no fewer than ten vessels. That would mean a capital sum of £10 million. If we were to take into account a number of other things, mainly outlined by Deputy Booth, we would have a nice round figure of about £35 million or £40 million.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  Nonsense!

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I am not suggesting to Deputy Lynch that that is a minimum figure. I have been told by the naval advisers that, if they were to give what they consider reasonably adequate protection and carry out all their other duties, they would require these ten boats and at least two other stations in addition to Cork.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  That is nonsense. You are able to put only one to sea at present.

[1597]Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I have admitted that several times. That has nothing to do with the boats. The naval people tell me these boats have not accommodation comparable to that on modern merchant boats, and I am accepting their word for it. These boats must have been acceptable when they were bought. It was the naval people who advised us to buy them.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  It shows you they were not suitable when they were bought because they are not suitable now.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  It is the accommodation for personnel. The statement has often been made that fishery protection depended on small, fast boats.


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Order! If Deputies do not cease interrupting, I shall have to ask them to leave the House.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  Without quoting too many of these opinions, Deputy Lynch knows that a Convention has been signed by a number of Western European countries, and we are among them. When eight of these countries have ratified this Convention, it will come into force; but the required number of countries—eight—have not done so yet. Assuming they do—and I presume they will seeing that they signed it—we cannot conclude that that will, in fact, guarantee us 12 miles of exclusive fisheries or, if you like to come down to precise details, six miles. There will be an outer band of six miles available for those countries that have been traditionally fishing around our coasts. That will leave us six exclusive miles.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  From the base lines?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  From the base lines where the base lines apply and from the coastline where the coastline applies. The coastline will apply in the south-east and the base lines in the west.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  It will be an area greater than Ireland itself.

[1598]Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  Half the size of the whole island, about 15,000 square miles. Is Deputy Lynch making the claim that, if you establish that regime of fishing, you will not have to deal with boats crossing your three mile limit? Has he not been talking here about the Russian fleets with their factory ships, hospital ships and, in fact, I believe there was one with a church ship. That did not come here to pray for the repose of the bereaved.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  That is news to me. They must have had an ecumenical approach.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  Does Deputy Lynch think these small boats he recommends will be capable of dealing with these large ships he visualises coming around our coasts in the future?

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  If they were armed, they would.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  These boats may not recognise the 12-mile limit and may possibly hold that the high seas go within three miles of our coastline. That is the type of boat we will have to contend with.

Deputy Booth tells me that I let the cat out of the bag badly when I said in my opening statement that the helicopter is quite useless. I do not think I said it was quite useless. I indicated it was not completely efficient in dealing with this question of poaching. To prove it he quoted a remark published in some of the papers by the skipper of a foreign trawler, who said he did not mind the corvettes being around but he got very frightened when he saw the helicopter. If I was naïve enough to let the cat out of the bag, I do not think this skipper let any cat out of the bag. If he was afraid of the helicopter, he would not have told the newspapers that. In fact, his statement of comparison as between the protective qualities of the helicopter and the corvette shows that it is the corvette he fears. Deputy Booth should read something about Napoleon's famous courier, Brigadier-General Gerard, and he will be able to assess the truth of that skipper's statement about the helicopter.

[1599]Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  In the last analysis Napoleon was not a success. For years we were asking the Minister to get a helicopter and after years he eventually did so. Now we are asking him to get coastal defence boats, and I suppose he will get them eventually also.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  Could I ask the Minister is it necessary for him to introduce legislation to cover the proposals for the extension of the pension to widows?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  Yes.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  Will the Minister introduce the Bill soon?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I cannot say exactly when, but soon.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  Is the Minister going to purchase coastal defence craft?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Is the Minister going to be allowed to conclude in the few minutes remaining to him?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  If the question is reasonable and sensible, I will try to answer it.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  Is it the intention of the Minister to purchase some coastal defence craft?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  Would the Deputy not have a bit of patience and wait until we see exactly what this Convention will bring us in the way of fishery problems?

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  You will have to buy them even if you have only a three-mile limit.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  If the Deputy sends out small boats to deal with the large boats he has spoken of here, it is almost inevitable that, if these small boats are to be effective, they will have to fire their guns. If it is going to be a competition in swashbuckling, you will have to put out a boat as big as the swashbuckler trying to get across your three-mile limit.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  I would like to see the effect of a two-inch pompom across their bows.

[1600]Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I would like to see a motor torpedo boat with 13 knots dealing with one of these big boats. The Deputy knows from the fishery returns that we have not been losing at all. I do not accept his statement that our exclusive fisheries are being plundered. We are taking out annually a steady 25,000 tons of fish.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  The lowest in the world.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  It has not dropped. I think we can do in relation to this matter what we have been doing in relation to wheat production. We can quite easily do with somewhat less than the completely adequate protection necessary for 15,000 square miles of fishery until we develop our fisheries. I had this problem when I was Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Fisheries. I bought three steel-clad boats. We know what the Deputy's Party did about them. These boats dealt effectively with the Continental poaching bullies.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  The three boats could not go to sea.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  They did go to sea. They stopped the Spanish and French bullying our boats on the west coast, but the Deputy's Party tied them up below in Ringsend and would not put a coat of paint on them. They had to be sold. One of them, for its power and length, has turned out to be the best boat that has ever fished out of an English port. These are the boats you ballyragged because you made them a football between two political Parties.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  This is a new way to sink ships.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  I want to complete the Vote if the Dáil is prepared.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  Are you going to purchase coastal defence boats?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  No.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  I must protest against this.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy will not be allowed to make [1601] another speech. He has already spoken. The Chair is putting the question and the Deputy should behave himself. He is long enough in this House to know the rules.

Mr. T. Lynch: Information on Thaddeus Lynch  Zoom on Thaddeus Lynch  I beg your pardon.

Vote put and agreed to.

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