Thursday, 2 May 1974
Dáil Eireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £27,041,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the period commencing on the 1st day of April, 1974, and ending on the 31st day of December, 1974, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Defence, including certain services administered by that Office; for the pay and expenses of the Defence Forces; and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.
The Estimate for Defence is for a net sum of £27,041,000 for the nine months financial period from 1st April to 31st December, 1974. It is based on an estimated requirement of £38,024,000 for a full 12-months' period. This would represent an increase of £3,844,000 on the provision of £34,180,000 for the financial year 1973-74. The increase arises mainly under:
The increases in these subheads are attributable to increased strengths and pay revisions. The comparative increase in respect of the stores subheads amounts of £558,000. Provision has not been made in the Estimate for increases under the national pay agreement—15th Round—which will be effective from the 1st June, 1974. This will be done in due course by means of a Supplementary Estimate.
The Estimate provides for an average strength of 10,500 non-commissioned officers and privates in the Permanent Defence Force. In order to build up the strength of the force to enable it to undertake its many duties in present circumstances, an intensive recruiting campaign commenced towards the end of 1973. I am glad to say that the results of the campaign to date have been very encouraging. In the three-months' period ended 31st March, 1974, 1,026 recruits were enlisted for general service, which brought the strength, including officers and cadets, on that date up to 11,312. I want this figure to be taken in relation to the first figure I gave as the general figure for the numbers in the Army. This is the latest date for which figures are available at the moment. We shall continue with our efforts to build up the Army to full establishment strength. Any young man contemplating joining the Permanent Defence Force can be assured that he will have an attractive and worthwhile career, which offers good pay and living conditions as well as opportunities for furthering his education or learning a trade. He will have facilities too, for sporting, recreational and cultural activities and the prospect of foreign travel on overseas service which will broaden his general education and experience. He can also be assured of the gratitude and respect of all those who appreciate the worth of  the Army's contribution towards the preservation of law and order and the protection of our democratic institutions.
Recruiting is, of course, going on all the time and I am starting a fresh drive to increase the intake of suitable young men. I would ask every Deputy and every person who is concerned for the future of our country to use his best endeavours in support of the recruiting effort. This is true patriotism in the Ireland of to-day.
With a view to retaining suitable trained men in the service and expanding the scope of recruiting, as well as alleviating to some extent the hardships imposed on all ranks by the present abnormal situations, the following measures have been taken:
(i) The gratuities payable to men who are permitted to extend their service in the Permanent Defence Force have been increased from £25 to £150 to complete 6 or 7 years' service, £125 to complete 9 years' service, and £100 to complete 12 years' service. These amounts are added one to the other and are separate so that they are enjoyed as a man makes his decision.
|Married Officer||£1.00a day|
|Single Officer||90p a day|
|Married Man||85p a day|
|Single Man||75p a day|
(iv) Defence Force regulations were amended in October, 1973, to permit the enlistment in the Permanent Defence Force of married  men up to 28 years of age without previous service. Prior to that only single men could enlist without prior service in the Permanent Defence Force or the Reserve (FCA or Slua Muirí).
(v) In January, 1974, the age limits were again revised for an experimental period of six months. Under the revised arrangements any man, married or single, without previous service may enlist up to the age of 32 years. If he had previous service in the FCA or Slua Muirí he may enlist up to the age of 35 years and, if he had previous service in the Permanent Defence Force, up to 38 years.
It has also been decided to employ an extra 200 civilian employees for duties in cookhouses and messes with a view to releasing trained military personnel engaged on these duties for military operational activities. The necessary provision for these extra civilian employees is made under subhead F.
Apart from military training, facilities are provided for adult education courses, both general and technical, which are pursued in vocational schools, commercial colleges and at UCD. Facilities include day releases for group certificate students, payment of fees and for books in certain cases and for the adjustment of regimental duties to assist men in attending night classes in certain areas. While I am particularly conscious of the need to raise the general and technical educational standards of men so as to fit them for the various administrative and technical appointments which are part of the modern army and to take up remunerative employment after their Army careers, the heavy demands of the present security situation prevent us from releasing as many men as we would wish to attend courses.
In this regard I would like to say that this is a problem. If you have a situation whereby you must ask men  to do security duties on the Border then they cannot be called on to do courses which we would wish them to do but that is something that is being looked at. I can only do my best and guarantee, as far as I am concerned, that each recruit in the Army will get his best chance. His duties, of course, are another factor.
However, in spite of the existing state of commitment to security, the efforts in the educational field cannot be regarded as inconsequential. For instance, during the current academic year group certificate courses are being attended by 82 men, leaving certificate courses by 29 men, diploma in industrial engineering by one man, a commerce course in UCD by three men and technical courses by 16 men. I define “men” as non-commissioned officers and private soldiers. Apprentice courses continue to be provided— 153 apprentices at the Army Apprentice School, Naas, and 75 at the Air Corps Apprentice School, Baldonnel. In addition, facilities are also afforded for private study in barracks and posts, with assistance readily given by officer and NCO instructors.
Games and physical training are now reasonably well catered for throughout the Army and sporting facilities and equipment generally have been much improved. Gymnasia are being brought up-to-date and the aim is to have a well-equipped gymnasium in each post. In this regard I would like to say that the vote for gymnasia was £2,000 a year which meant you got around to a gymnasium every ten years. The vote is now £15,000 and I hope that before the end of next year we will have gymnasium equipment available in each gymnasium.
Swimming pools are hired regularly and swimming instruction is catered for in the recruit training syllabus. Competitions at unit and command level are held regularly in all sports and representative matches are arranged with other bodies, for example, the Garda and the universities. Adventure training is encouraged, especially for cadets in the Military College, and there is participation in such activities as parachuting, subaqua  activity, mountaineering, caving, boating, sailing and canoeing. All-Army gymnastic competitions are held annually and there is a big demand from local festival committees for displays by Army gymnastic teams. Every effort is made to meet these demands and encouragement is given to all Army units to become involved in local community sports and cultural activities.
As Deputies are aware, the demands on the Permanent Defence Force have been exceptionally heavy for the last year. Apart from their ordinary duties and their contribution to the United Nations peace-keeping efforts, the additional burden of duties in aid of the civil power arising from events in the North continues to impose considerable strain on manpower resources. Despite the improved strength position, it is still necessary, in order to relieve the burden on our troops, to keep some of the First Line Reserve on full-time duty and to call on the FCA to do week-end and other forms of part-time service. I am very pleased to pay tribute to all the components of the Defence Forces—the Regulars, the Army Nursing Service, the FCA and the Slua Muirí—for the excellence of their service and their devotion to duty during a particularly difficult period.
The main pre-occupation of the Defence Forces during the last 12 months has continued to be with internal security matters. Their activities in this field derive from their role of rendering aid to the civil power, which in practice means assisting the Garda Síochána as required. They have continued to provide Border patrols and to assist at road checkpoints as well as helping the Garda in dealing with Border incidents and in the protection of explosive materials used for industrial purposes. They have also been providing bomb-disposal teams in response to an increased number of calls and have been involved in the protection of installations of vital national importance and the provision of guards at civil prisons as well as having the custody of certain civilian prisoners. To illustrate the extent of demands being  made on the Defence Forces I might mention that during the 12 months ended on the 31st March, 1974, over 5,600 military parties were supplied for check-point duties and participated with the Garda in setting up 14,600 joint Garda/Army checkpoints. In addition, some 3,000 patrols were sent out into the road network along the Border from the military posts which are being maintained in the Border areas. Escorts for explosives and blasting operations have been provided on upwards of 800 occasions and almost 600 requests for bomb disposal teams have been handled. All in all, an impressive set of figures.
Let me say as well that it is totally important that the security of this State shall remain absolutely secure, that there is no question of anybody, however powerful or with whatever in mind, deciding the security of this State shall be destroyed. The Irish Army are, and properly so, under the 1954 Defence Act, with the Garda, in charge of the security of the State. I want to say that they shall remain so.
The Defence Forces have proved themselves eminently suited to the task of assisting the Garda. The activities on which they are engaged often call for tact and patience of a high order, coupled with endurance and the will to get on with the job with as little inconvenience as possible to law-abiding citizens. In many respects the qualities required for the efficient discharge of their role of assisting the civil power are not unlike those which have characterised their service on peace-keeping missions abroad with the United Nations and which have repeatedly evoked tributes from United Nations sources. These combined operations have resulted in a close and harmonious liaison between the Army and the Garda at all levels built on mutual respect, understanding and co-operation. The daily trauma of indiscriminate violence in the North inevitably has repercussions on our security. Whatever one's reservations may be, and I have none, about seeing  the Defence Forces continuously employed in aid of the civil power, the inescapable fact is that the requirements of security must transcend any such reservations. Let me repeat that I, as Minister for Defence, have no reservations in that regard for law and order are fundamental to our democratic way of life. They are the first responsibility of Government, and the Government will continue to do everything required of them to discharge this responsibility.
In practical terms, of course, the ideal of complete security cannot be attained. The position, however, in so far as it involves the Defence Forces, is kept under constant review jointly by the military authorities and the Garda Síochána at the operational level to ensure the optimum use of available resources in manpower and equipment. The Government are committed to doing everything possible in reason to see to it that such resources are adequate. They will continue to honour that commitment so as to ensure not only that our democratic institutions are safeguarded but also that the conditions of security and internal stability, which constitute the essential prerequisite for social and economic progress are maintained.
In this regard let me say that if nothing happens on the security front, if there are no bombs and no guns, then there is success; therefore, that is not recorded by the media but when something happens there are reports by the media. Therefore, silence, in fact, is a success of the security forces and silence, I am afraid, over the last year has not been something we have had all the time. However, it must be realised that the security forces, whether they be in the Army or Garda Síochána succeed when nothing happens and, therefore, it is not news. It is only news when they do not succeed in quelling violence and these people will of course, occasionally succeed in causing trouble.
Arising from the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East in October last and the subsequent establishment  of the United Nations emergency force in that area, the Dáil, following a request from the United Nations approved the sending of an Irish contingent to the new force. This contingent was provided by the transfer of the contingent then serving in Cyprus, augmented by 134 personnel sent from home direct to the mission area. Thus the new contingent amounted to some 270 all ranks. As always, the Irish troops serving with the United Nations perform their duties in most commendable fashion and it is our earnest hope that their presence will contribute to a lasting peace in this war-torn area. The first rotation of the new contingent is currently taking place and the replacement unit has a total strength of 321 all ranks. Arrangements have been made for the payment of a supplementary allowance of 47p a day to the members of the contingent. This is in addition to a daily allowance of about 53p payable by the UN in local currency towards the purchase of personal requisites, including mineral waters which are in great demand owing to the intense heat in the area. Over and above these local allowances, substantial overseas allowances are also payable. I am satisfied with the financial situation of the personnel serving there.
Twenty-two Irish officers are serving with the United Nations truce supervision organisation in the Middle East and these officers are to be commended also for the excellent manner in which they perform their tasks—often in hazardous conditions.
The transfer of the contingent from Cyprus leaves only three Irish military personnel serving there in staff appointments. I should, perhaps, mention that, of claims amounting to £3.56 million presented to the United Nations in respect of the extra costs of the Irish contingents in Cyprus £3.17 million have been recovered leaving a balance of £0.39 million outstanding. Claims will be presented in due course for the extra costs of supplying the contingent to the United Nations emergency force in the Middle East. The House may take it, therefore, that the financial arrangements with the UN are satisfactory  and we are not at a loss because of our Defence Forces serving with the United Nations.
The build up of stores and equipment has continued at a steady pace and Deputies will, I know, appreciate the need to ensure that this strengthened capability of the Defence Forces is maintained as reflected in this year's provision. The first of three prototype armoured personnel carriers has been completed by an Irish firm and has been undergoing extensive tests and trials since October, 1973. The second has also been delivered and the third is expected to be delivered in about a month, these two incorporate a design modification in the cooling system resulting from experience with the first. The testing of these vehicles is a tedious and exacting process and it will be a considerable time before final conclusions are reached. With the helicopter fleet now raised to eight, and eight light army co-operation aircraft in service, the recent decision to purchase six jet trainers in replacement of the vampires recognises the importance, and guarantees the future, of the Air Corps training programme. Naturally, these jets will also provide an operational capability in the fighter squadron operating them. I am very pleased that the up-to-date avionics system for these aircraft will be designed, supplied and installed by Aer Lingus.
The recent decision to initiate action for the procurement of a second all-weather fishery protection vessel will mean that work on it should commence this year and delivery may take place towards the end of 1975. While retaining the excellent qualities of L.E. Déirdre the new vessel may incorporate modifications deriving from experience with her. A pleasing feature is that Irish Shipping Ltd., have again agreed to act as consultants for the entire project.
The sharp increase over the past two years in the level of expenditure for building works is an indication of the attention that is being given to improving accommodation to modern standards and providing better living  conditions for soldiers. The task is a formidable one, principally because of the age of most Army buildings, but a good amount of progress has been made.
Soldiers' billets, for example, have been made more comfortable, cookhouses and dining halls are being modernised, married quarters and mess premises are being improved, two housing schemes for married soldiers have recently been completed and further building is planned. Work is about to commence on the installation of central heating at various locations and a programme for the improvement of men's canteens which was started last year is being continued.
In this regard, I am dissatisfied with the facilities available to the soldiers in various barracks so far as ablutions are concerned. An example would be Collins's Barracks where 50 men have not, in my opinion, got even the minimum standard of ablutions that they should have. I am exercising all my efforts in this regard and I hope that the quarter master general and I, with the goodwill of the House in providing the money, will be able to improve these unsatisfactory situations where they exist. The position has been left in an unsatisfactory state over a long number of years and I hope that I and the quartermaster general will now be able to change that. The job is a big one because there are so many places in which conditions are unsatisfactory and I realise that changes cannot be made overnight. I shall, however, do my utmost to improve conditions. We are making our best efforts at the moment and we will continue those efforts. I am sure both sides will agree with me that the ordinary serving soldier is entitled to the same standard of life that pertains to the ordinary civilian in 1974.
A particularly important construction work that is nearing completion is the new building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa, Galway, for the accommodation of Army cadets and officers attending University College, Galway. Of a high standard functionally and aesthetically, the new premises will provide  ideal accommodation for military student personnel. When completed, the premises will have 120 bedrooms, study rooms, library, kitchens, dining rooms and a variety of recreational facilities, all system built.
I understand from some of the people there that they get their meals from the Army cookhouse and the vegetables are not presented in the best possible manner. As well as that, some of the food is cooked for a long time before they actually get it. I deliberately say that here so that all concerned will realise that I am here to see that everything is improved everywhere it can be improved and we accept criticism where that criticism is both right and proper.
During 1974, the present high level of activity on building works will be maintained. Provision is made for the commencement of various new works including the construction of a new apprentice training hall at Casement Aerodrome.
However, priority is being given to the needs of troops in Border areas. A comprehensive programme of works designed to provide adequate accommodation of a reasonable standard at Border posts has been approved. The proposals include the construction of a new military post at Monaghan and major building works at Dundalk Barracks. A design plan for the Monaghan post has been prepared and the initial planning work for the Dundalk project has commenced. The other Border locations at which new works and general improvements to accommodation are being carried out are Longford, Castleblayney, Finner Camp, Rockhill House, Ballyconnell, Manorhamilton and Lifford. Some of these works are already completed or well advanced.
I intend to press on with the task of making the Army Equitation School an effective force in show jumping and three-day eventing. In the last financial year, ten horses were bought at a cost of £104,000. The programme, thus initiated, of building up the strength of the school by the acquisition of horses of national and  international standard will continue this year as animals of suitable quality become available. In this regard, that which is retarding things is not a question of money because the situation where money was concerned was quite clear. The Army Equitation School was costing in the order of £200,000 to £250,000 a year and, on assessment, it was found that there were only two horses of international standard available to the riders. The best calculation that could be done demonstrated the necessity for at least eight horses of international standard and eight horses of national standard, the hope being that those of national standard would in time supersede those of international standard. As well as that, one had to have the men to ride the horses and it was difficult to get the men if they did not have the horses to ride.
The decision of the Government was that we either close the school and avoid a loss of £250,000 a year or provide the horses of correct standard. This ought not really to have been a problem at all because horses should have been provided year by year and we should have had the pride and joy that we had in years gone by when people like Dan Corry and horses like Red Hugh and Owen Roe, and others, graced the world with their achievements and, not only graced the world but made the Irish horse symptomatic of something of the highest possible standard. We were faced with an unsatisfactory situation and we had to accept it. We have done our work on the basis of what was available.
I should like to tell the House that we have been reasonably successful in the purchase of three-day event horses but we have not been as successful in the purchase of show jumping horses. This is not because of any dereliction of duty on our part but due to the fact that the horses were not available. Some of the horses we contracted to buy did not pass the veterinary surgeon. In this regard I should like to state that negotiations were carried out for a horse belonging to a member of the family of a Deputy but the  horse was not examined by a veterinary surgeon. Any rumour that a horse, the property of a Member opposite, had been rejected by the vet is not correct. I should like to record that in fairness to the Deputy and to his family.
As Deputies are aware, there is an arrangement between Bord na gCapall and my Department whereby horses may be loaned by either body to the other with the object of securing the most effective combination of horses and riders, military and civil. Three horses are at present on loan from the board to the Army Equitation School.
There are nations whose citizens can spend a lot of money, perhaps even name horses for advertising purposes, and get pleasure from the fact that the horses win. We are a poor nation and we have not many people who can do this kind of thing. So far as selling the Irish horse is concerned, it appears to the Government and to myself that in the next decades at least we will need the Irish Army jumping team to supplement the civilians so that we can show the flag anywhere in the world where horses are competing. That may mean that this kind of advertisement may never be paid for except through the Vote for Defence and through expenditure by private civilians. To provide a four-horse team, we need the Army. I would reckon that a cadet who is a member of the Army Equitation School will spend about five hours per day in the saddle for a minimum of six or seven years before he reaches the stage where he is a top-class horseman. This is something that might happen to the son of a millionaire or to a person selected for the Army Equitation School.
I want to state the position clearly. Either the whole undertaking had to be got rid of completely because of the financial loss or we had to ensure that the necessary expertise was provided for and the money given to an undertaking we could proudly regard as a show-piece for the nation as well as selling Irish horses, which makes money for those who breed and feed them.
 There is no reason why a horse in the Army Equitation School cannot be loaned or leased to Bord na gCapall. It is our desire that the Irish horse should again reach the position it held formerly and to remedy the neglect the industry has suffered during the years. The amount of money spent is £104,400. This is small when one considers that during a long number of years we have been spending nearly £250,000 per year with no effect. We must give careful consideration to this matter in order that we may do our best to help.
I was very pleased when the Government decided in principle last year that a new sail training vessel should be obtained and I was proud that this new project was assigned to me. Previously it was with the Office of Public Works and the Minister for Finance; in fact, Deputy Haughey, as Minister for Finance, initiated a scheme whereby sail training was conducted on the Asgard. The project has been assigned to me and I shall do my best in this connection.
Already I am glad to say considerable progress has been made by the sail training committee of which I act as chairman. A well-known Irish naval architect, namely Jack Tyrrell of Arklow, has been appointed to design the new vessel. He has already produced preliminary drawings which have been approved by the committee subject to certain modifications and he is now preparing the drawings and specifications necessary to enable my Department to invite tenders for the building of the new vessel. It is intended that the new vessel will continue the splendid work still being done by the Asgard, under the guidance of its very able committee, in providing sail training cruises for young people.
The chairman of the Asgard committee remains Mr. Frank Lemass who is indisposed at the moment. I should like to express my thanks for his work during a number of years and our hopes in this House that he will return soon to full health.
The cruises not only help to develop the skills of sailing but they are  also of great value to young people from the point of view of character building. It is our hope, too, that the new vessel will be a worthy successor to the older vessel in competition. The intention is, in fact, that she should participate in the transatlantic races of the Sail Training Association. We may be in trouble here because there is a transatlantic race in 1976 and my advice is that the shortest time possible for the building of a sail training ship in traditional materials is one year. There is also the tender period and various other delays so that, with the best will, we may not make 1976 but it is our hope that the ship shall compete. The Asgard will continue to be used for sail training purposes for some years to come.
In this regard, I should like to state that on the advice of naval architects the Asgard is nearing the end of its life. Because of its particular association with this country I should like the Asgard to continue as long as possible but the boat may be restricted to coastal cruises. As long as this is wise and safe this will continue and ultimately we will deal with the Asgard in the most suitable manner. Some suggestions have been made; in fact, Commodore McKenna some eight years ago, before the Asgard was commissioned, had a proposal in the Department of Defence that we should build a new sail training ship and put the Asgard on a plinth at Howth. All of these suggestions will have to be considered. It is my wish, and I am sure it is shared by all Members, that we must do our best to see that the Asgard is properly appreciated.
Subhead G of the Estimate relates to civil defence and here I am glad to be able to report continued progress in the recruitment and training of volunteers, in the provision of special courses at the Civil Defence School in Dublin, and in the establishment and equipment of control centres.
Since 1951 the State and local authorities have spent approximately £3½ million on civil defence. This represents an average annual outlay of about five pence per head of the population. Much of this money went on the provision of equipment and accommodation,  the bulk of which is intact and may be expected to remain serviceable for many years to come.
In regard to the establishment of control centres, from which civil defence operations would be directed and co-ordinated in an emergency, 22 county controls and five regional controls have now been completed or are nearing completion. The setting up of a further seven county control centres and three regional control centres has been somewhat slowed by difficulties in providing suitable structures but it is expected that work on some of them will be commenced at an early date.
The civil defence uniform is basically a working dress for use in operational conditions and has remained unaltered in design and quality since 1958. Suggestions for its improvement have been made from time to time and it was recently decided to provide an improved type of uniform made from a more refined cloth and with some changes in design. Initial supplies of the new uniform are expected to become available in the near future but it will, of course, be some time before all civil defence personnel will have been provided with them.
Let me say that I was in Sligo during the weekend for the award to the successful civil defence team and, for the all-Ireland competition, it happened to be a team of married ladies exclusively. Even though the uniform is not what we would wish it to be, I would say that they looked very well. The fact that they defeated all the other contestants, male or otherwise, is something which we must record on this occasion.
Another improvement which has been achieved in the conditions of service for civil defence volunteers affects the disablement and death benefits payable. A revised scheme of compensation was promulgated last year—the Air-raid Precautions Services (Compensation for Personal Injuries) Scheme, 1973—under which compensation is payable in the case of a member who is injured, or dies as a result of an injury, received in the course of training or while on duty. The benefits are generally  similar to those payable under the Occupational Injury Code—Social Welfare (Occupational Injuries) Act, 1966, as amended. While we would all hope that the need for such payments would not arise, Deputies will agree that it is an essential safeguard which must be at the disposal of people who give such an important voluntary service to the nation.
Last year, a new series of national competition was initiated which, I believe, is having a stimulating effect on civil defence training. These tests begin at county level from which the winning teams go forward to regional competitions and the regional winners then proceed to the final tests at national level. The first national competition for the Rescue Service was held in Cork in 1973 and this year a national casualty service competition was staged recently in Sligo, to which I have referred. A similar competition for the Rescue Service is to take place shortly in Galway. I can say from personal observation that these competitions generate much enthusiasm and friendly rivalry and I am very pleased by the high standards and overall dedication of the participants.
I want to take this opportunity of expressing my appreciation of the patriotic attitude and the sterling work of civil defence volunteers throughout the country. This unspectacular but vital service to the community deserves the highest praise. We are indebted to them and to the voluntary aid societies—the Irish Red Cross Society, the Order of Malta and the St. John Ambulance Brigade—who co-operate so effectively with the civil defence organisation. I am grateful, too, to those members of the Oireachtas, members of local authorities and Church dignitaries who continue to lend their support to civil defence and commend it to the public at large.
The view has sometimes been expressed that civil defence should be under the control of the Army rather than local authorities. There are good reasons for the present arrangement. In time of war an army has its own  role to fulfil and it cannot allow itself to be diverted from its primary function. I myself was a company officer in the voluntary aid Detachment of the Red Cross during the Emergency in 1939-1945 and my position was that if there had been an emergency, I would have gone into the Army and the first aid Detachment would have stayed at home and looked after the people resident in the area. That is an administrative fact. It is a decision. It is something you have to decide upon and I would say that the proper decision has been made that civil defence stays at home and looks after the people in its own area and, therefore, its relationship with the officers and the personnel of the local authority is relevant.
Civil defence, as its title implies, is that part of national defence which is specifically designed to mitigate the effects of war on the civilian population. The decision that local authorities should carry out civil defence functions arose from the fact that the kind of organisation necessary to carry out such functions—for example the bringing of succour to people who have lost their homes, food and clothing, the rescuing of persons trapped in damaged or collapsed buildings, extinguishing fires, rehousing homeless and displaced persons—is generally the same as the organisation already in being under the direction of local authorities for their own normal peace-time functions.
If not otherwise engaged at any particular time, military parties would, of course, where necessary, give assistance in civil defence operations. Such military assistance, would, however, complement and not be a substitute for civil defence since it would be a temporary measure which would be terminated as soon as possible in order to conserve military resources.
When, in 1972, the civil defence organisation took over from the Defence Forces the responsibility for handling the Northern refugee situation, they demonstrated the importance of freeing the Army to carry  out its allotted role and they displayed, in 1972 and 1973, a first-class capability for dealing with an extremely difficult assignment. In doing so they underlined the vital importance to this country of having such an outstandingly effective body of trained and willing voluntary personnel.
Before I move to the Army Pensions Estimate I should like to say that since I became Minister for Defence I have tried to be with the Army as much as possible and, as I went around, I saw people on guard duty at places like Ballyshannon, places like the Electricity Supply Board installations, and various places which need to be protected. One of the things I would hate to have to do day in and day out would be guard duty. I wish to express to the officers and men, and particularly to the men, of the Defence Forces my appreciation of the duty they have to do which is not pleasant and is not colourful but which preserves democracy and the State itself.
I should like to mention appreciatively the golden jubilee of the Army School of Music which was celebrated recently by a memorable concert. Unfortunately, at the time I was laid low with virus pneumonia and I could not be there. The distinguished audience in the Royal Dublin Society at Ballsbridge who heard that concert are unanimous in their views that it was an event of real importance. Anyone who missed it missed something of great significance. I should like to pay that tribute to them. I hope the Army School of Music will be seen a little more and that the Defence Forces will be projected by the Army School of Music which is of great importance.
I now come to the Army Pensions Estimate which is also before the House. It is for a net sum of £6,420,000 to cover the period of nine months from 1st April, 1974, to 31st December, 1974. For the period of 12 months from 1st April, 1974, to 31st March, 1975, the corresponding figure would be £8,438,000. This represents an increase of £625,000 compared with the 1973-74 figure of £7,813,000, inclusive of a supplementary Vote of £50,000.
About £300,000 of this increase  arises out of the provision for increased pensions and allowances in accordance with the principle of maintaining parity in public service pensions. As Deputies are aware, the increases will become effective from 1st July this year.
This is a good departure and, while it imposes some considerable stress and strain on civil servants to have the administrative difficulties ironed out by 1st July, in relation to the Budget, 1st July is the proper date and not 1st October. The balance of the £625,000 is due in the main to increased numbers getting allowances under subhead C—Allowances and Gratuities to Dependants—and pensions and gratuities under subhead E for retired members of the permanent Defence Force.
Deputies may be interested to know that in subhead C already mentioned, there are 4,306 widows of military service pensioners in receipt of allowances equal to one-half of their deceased husband's pension calculated by reference to current rates and subject to a minimum amount of £80.52 per year. The average annual rate of allowance is £120.
In subhead H the number of special allowances payable to veterans of the War of Independence continues to show a downward trend. Regrettably, the number of deaths is in excess of new awards. At present there are 10,517 allowances on pay and the average rate of allowance is £181 a year. As regards subhead M—Free Travel, Electricity and Television Licences for Veterans of the War of Independence—the cost of these concessions represents an increase of £21,000 in a full year.
I commend the two Estimates to the favourable consideration of the House. If there are any points on which Deputies require further information I shall endeavour to supply the additional details when replying to the debate.
The Minister for Defence has come in here this morning with his Estimate,  the first one after the budget, and there is a great change from when he brought in his first Estimate almost 12 months ago. At that time we on this side of the House wished him well as a new Minister. We said we would be critical of him, not in his personal capacity or in his private life in one way or another. Anything I say will be on those lines. I intend to be very critical of many matters. I intend to say why I moved to refer the Estimate back.
I should like to pay tribute to our Defence Forces of all categories for the excellent manner in which they have carried out their duties in the past 12 months. This party has always firmly believed in law and order and in security and has supported any measure the Government have brought in to strengthen that security. It is sad that through the strange decisions of the Minister we now have insecurity at present. This is no reflection on our Defence Forces or the gardaí who are fulfilling their duty properly. It is the personal intervention of the present Minister that is causing the great mixup. Twelve months ago when we were discussing the matter here the Minister was able to say then that he would not discuss a certain incident called the Claudia incident, that it was sub judice. I do not know if we are in order in discussing it now; personally, I think we are. In that speech when the Minister introduced his first Estimate he said the Claudia incident was sub judice and, therefore, not open to comment by myself or other Members. That time has now passed and I think we may refer to it.
The Minister seems to make great play of what he is doing and intends to do and about the availability of money to him. He seems to be saying that he has finance ad lib. to improve standards in the Army, erect new buildings, improve sporting facilities and do all he can for the Naval Service, the FCA and Civil Defence. Having said all that it is strange that his Estimate last year was about £34 million for a full 12 months and now he is basing his Estimate on a 12-months' expenditure of £38 million, some £4 million more. That is not a very large increase, 10 per cent or 11 per  cent probably especially in view of the inflation we have. If he is to erect all those buildings, pay for the six new fighter jets and the new fishery protection vessel he will not do it with that amount of money because the cost of maintaining the Army, as the Minister will see, even at the present level will escalate out of all proportion because of inflation. It is no use saying that the £38 million Estimate now introduced is sufficient or near sufficient to meet the crying needs of the Defence Forces.
I cannot understand why we cannot at this stage make provision for increases under the national pay agreement, the 15th round, which will become effective from 1st June, 1974. We are already in early May with 1st June no more than four weeks away and it is strange that we could not provide in this Estimate for the cost of implementing the national wage agreement. The civil servants of the Minister's Department could easily figure out pretty accurately what the cost will be. I think it ridiculous to introduce an Estimate and say that within four weeks there will have to be a Supplementary Estimate. I agree that towards the end of any financial year you would require a Supplementary Estimate but it is ridiculous to bring in an estimate early in May and tell the House that a Supplementary Estimate will be required on 1st June involving more money. This should be included in today's Estimate. It must be paid and we all agree on that. My party will agree to any advances the Minister is making for the Army and for the provision of better facilities in any category. We agree with this but we say the provision is not sufficient.
We must consider what type of Army we want at present. The Minister said that we have the Army and that they must help the civilian authorities and the gardaí. Certainly, in the present situation they must do that and we agree with it but we are a small nation and we cannot expect to declare war on other nations and we do not train our Army with that in view. We really train the Army on the basis of preserving the peace  whether at home or abroad. Unfortunately, it is now a fact that small groups of people, numbering 300 or 400, using the advanced methods of modern guerilla warfare, can easily tie down an army of 20,000 men. It is with that in mind that we should train the Army. They must be trained in military style as always but there should be more emphasis on training them for crowd control and so on, to deal with situations which could arise in this or any city where anarchists can place bombs or perpetrate hoaxes indiscriminately. Civil Defence must be more involved with the Army and so must the FCA.
The money we are asked to provide is inadequate in view of what costs will be in the next 12 months. I find it hard to understand why the Minister has said that the amount provided this year under the heading of “General Stores” has dropped from £1 million odd to less than £.5 million for the nine-month financial year. Possibly this is explained in greater detail in succeeding passages where he says it is necessary to deduct in respect of stores ordered but not delivered in the financial year. I think that is general practice in all Departments but the drop of £.5 million seems to be too much. Whether we are dealing with general stores or something else we must continue to build up. Some items may be ordered and not delivered. When the provision has been halved, does it mean that you are not going to order the same amount or on the same level as in the previous 12 months? I think that is the message being conveyed.
Mr. Meaney: Why then did the Estimate fall? I should be happy if it stayed much higher. I accept the traditional procedure as being right and proper but the sum has been reduced. The Minister has said no and I accept his answer.
Mr. Meaney: Yes, but even though deliveries would not always take place  there would be provision in the Estimate. The round sum of £457,000, even for a nine-month financial year, is not in line with the £1 million provided for a 12-month financial year last year.
Mr. Donegan: There is no desire to restrict the amount of money. The fact is that this is the best we can do; it seems as if that is the amount of money that will be needed. If we can spend more, I shall come back for it.
Mr. Meaney: I should like the Minister to expand on the details concerning the purchase of land and premises. The purchase of land and premises is connected with the new barracks to be erected. I understand that the Minister is also providing money to purchase land on which to provide housing for Army personnel who will be in the barracks from time to time. A sum of £83,000 is to be provided for that. The Army also have sales from time to time. There was a very big sale of military lands at Ballincollig in my own constituency. I understand the sum realised was in the region of £177,000. I understand that that money has now been paid to the Minister for Defence. There was much opposition to this sale but I understand from the chairman of the county council that the necessary deeds have now been signed by himself and a representative from the Department of Defence.  Has this money gone into the “kitty” yet? It is a sizeable amount and should offset the money spent in other areas. I should like the Minister to state whether this money is for new housing. The Minister should also tell us what properties he intends to sell. He should make a categoric statement that any property which he proposes to sell will be sold as far as possible to local authorities or to people anxious to cater for the community at large.
We had the experience when the Army were trying to dispose of land at Ballincollig where speculators were trying forcibly to take over the land. This was disgraceful. They started ploughing the land and the Army had to intervene to stop them. They tried to meet people in the Department in order to get the land for private speculation. They tried to make a deal with the Department of Defence but the Department resisted that. In his concluding remarks I am sure the Minister will say that he will give preference at all times to any local authority who require land to develop for rehousing or the creation of recreational facilities. I am sure the Minister will tell us that preference will be given to anybody who wishes to help the public at large.
We are moving to refer back the Estimate. On the money side it is far short of what is required. The Minister has said that the new planes which are on order will not be delivered until the end of this year and that provision is not being made for them now. Has the Minister any new ideas about the payment for these planes? Will they be paid for by cash or from Department funds? Senior Army people are probably advising how this should be done.
There is much discussion about the new fishery protection vessel which is to be a sister ship for the Déirdre. That new ship will not cost any money until next year. That ship will probably not be in commission until the beginning of 1976. It will not be used by the Naval Service before then. I hope this ship will be built in an Irish dockyard. The Verolme dockyard is big enough to build it and I hope it will be built there. That dockyard has  a great reputation for shipbuilding. The Minister should decide that the ship is to be built there.
I have told the Minister that we are anxious to be critical because he, as Minister for Defence, is responsible for the security of this State. Every citizen looks to the Minister for security from attack whether internally or externally. Our army are playing their part in a brilliant way. We are all grateful to them because of the way they have behaved down through the years.
Some very strange decisions have been taken during the past 12 months. They have shaken the morale of the people as well as that of the Defence Forces. When a Government change office it is a bad thing to carry out a purge of all people whom they think are politically opposed to them. That has happened systematically in many Departments.
It came as a shock to me and to other Deputies that a man was removed from the Army Pensions Board and replaced by another gentleman. That was a bad decision. It seemed to indicate that the man who had held that position and who had given loyal service to the country in the Defence Forces and otherwise had acted improperly. It was a disgrace to remove him. The Minister should have resisted whatever Government pressure was put on him. A man was appointed to this board because he belonged to a certain political party. That is very wrong, particularly in connection with this post on the Army Pensions Board. We all hope that the Army will, at all times, be above politics. At all levels the Army should be devoid of politics. The Minister made a bad mistake which has been commented on by many people irrespective of their political outlook. People now say that if one wants to get something, political influence is necessary. The Minister should not have given them the chance to make such statements against him. The Minister's reputation has not been enhanced by this mistake.
The Government when in Opposition often said that they were the upholders of law and order and of security in this  country. The Minister has played no insignificant part in seeing that the security of this country has been rattled over the past 12 months. There was the famous case of the Claudia which the Minister should have mentioned in his brief today. He did not mention it last year because he said it was sub judice then and could not be commented on by himself or anybody else. It is not sub judice now. Last year it appeared that the Minister would comment on this case at a later date when it was no longer sub judice. My party wish to condemn the Minister outright for the manner in which he behaved on that occasion. It was a ship which had been arrested by the Defence Forces and handed over to the Garda authorities. The Minister seems to have a phobia of personally intervening in the duties of the Army. He personally took over the operation and decided what should be done with the crew of the Claudia. They were non-nationals and the Minister decided that they should sail out of Cork harbour scot-free and that no charges should be preferred against either the crew or the owners of the ship, despite the fact that later Irishmen were charged. If the law applied to the Irishmen it should also have been applied to the foreigners on the Claudia.
Why did the Minister not allow the Claudia or the crew that were on it to be charged before our courts? Why did he not let our courts decide whether they had transgressed the law? There is no doubt at all from subsequent events that they were involved in bringing arms into this country and they should have been charged under our laws. Because they were foreigners and influenced the Minister one way or another he took over not alone the role of the Minister for Defence but also that of the Attorney General. The Minister made a decision that the crew should be set free and booted out of the country. He said, that they should be kicked up the transom.
It was a bad decision and one which the Minister should not have made one way or the other. He had personally intervened. It did not come easy to those Army officers and senior officials of the Garda who had done  their duty in this matter and who were anxious that the crew should be tried to see that ship sailing free out of Cork harbour. When he is replying the Minister should refer in detail to that episode. He owes both an explanation and an apology to this House in regard to the manner in which he carried out his duties on that occasion. I can only express the hope that nothing of that nature will happen again in the future.
There was another incident in March last regarding ships. This was aired between the Minister and myself on a subsequent Adjournment debate. In that instance there appeared to be no liaison whatever between the Minister and the Department of Justice. The Army and the Garda in carrying out their duties searched ships for arms both at Greenore and at Cork. They were acting, we were told, on a tip-off; but after they had spent some time searching they were informed that the blank ammunition that was on board was destined for the Irish Army and that the Army were aware of that. Because this was not made known to them earlier, they became a laughing stock through no fault of their own.
Mr. Meaney: It is a phobia of the Minister's that he must run around from one place to another taking charge of operations. He went to Greenore as fast as he could. Our Defence Forces were carrying out their duties there adequately. So far as we are concerned they are entitled to search any vessel in the interests of security, but the point is that the Minister is supposed to have known that the arms had been on board. Yet, he was not able to pass the word down the line to the Garda authorities. In reply I should like the Minister to explain why he did not put a guard on that ship as it came from the high seas into Irish territorial waters. I  have put this question to him before but he has not answered it. Can he tell us why, if as he said he was aware of there being ammunition on the ship that docked in Cork, he did not ensure protection for the vessel as it sailed up the River Lee into Cork harbour? The river is very narrow as it flows towards Tivoli and it would not have been very difficult for anyone to have stopped it at that point and removed the arms. The Irish Naval Service and the Army should have been alerted. The point I am making is that if the Minister knew of the arms the vessel was carrying he should have passed the word on. Instead, he made no attempt to have the shipment safeguard.
Apart from having maximum security where a ship carrying arms for the Army is docked, it is important also that the shipment be guarded as it leaves the high seas; and I am seeking an assurance from the Minister that this precaution will be taken in the future. It would not be very difficult for any group of anarchists to hire a boat—they have been known to hire helicopters—for the purpose of stopping a ship and taking arms from it. I hope that there are adequate plans to prevent any such incident occurring. During the past 12 months there have been escapes from prison, the Army have been searching for their own arms——
Mr. Meaney: I am emphasising these points to illustrate the shaking that security has suffered in this country since this Government came to power. That is what the Minister  does not like to hear. When I discussed these matters with him during an Adjournment debate he endeavoured to refer to matters that were not relevant to the points I was raising and he recalled happenings of three or four years ago. In his indignation he almost tore his chair asunder, God bless us and save us. However, he did not answer the questions I put to him.
It is our duty to bring these matters to light. On another Adjournment debate the Minister became very indignant also when we spoke of the responsibility for the carrying out of security duties. Our Army are capable of carrying out these duties adequately; but the Government, and in particular the Minister for Foreign Affairs, decided that foreign soldiers might carry out surveillance and dismantle bombs on this side of the Border. That was a bad decision. It was a reflection on our Defence Forces. There was no need for the Government to give permission to any foreign soldiers to engage in the type of operations I have mentioned within the Republic. This House is willing to sanction the purchase of any equipment that the Defence Forces may need to carry out their duties; but we do not want people from outside doing work that our own men are fully capable of doing.
No more than the Minister nor anybody else here, I do not wish that there be any loss of life or that anybody be injured; but I am anxious that an end be put to this kind of trafficking. I am all for law and order, but it will not help influence matters if decisions have to be taken as to which force should deal with matters on this side of the Border. The Minister may talk of incursions to the extent of a few feet but we know that there have been incursions by the British Army to the extent of two or three miles into our jurisdiction. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, we are told, objected strenuously on the occasion when British troops came into County Monaghan, alongside Castleblayney. It was only right that he should have done so. However it  should not be the position, if a suspicious object is noticed on this side of the Border, that a decision has to be made as to which force are to deal with it. This task is one for our Army and for nobody else. The Minister would be doing a good day's work if he were to announce the rescinding of the delegation of power to foreign soldiers to carry out such tasks in the Republic. I have here The Evening Herald of the 2nd April, 1974, which carries a report to the effect that the Minister says that the Army are extending the shoot rule and that escaping prisoners may be shot.
Mr. Meaney: I am on the side of law and order as I shall explain as I continue. I do not expect that any man in our Defence Force will allow himself to be shot by any anarchist whoever that anarchist might be. That is clear to everybody on this side. That paper reported something which the Minister must explain:
That is causing a great deal of disquiet among the ordinary people. There will be jailbreaks from time to time and probably no violence will be used. It is outside the bounds for members of the Defence Forces to open fire on those people. It would be a very bad thing if during a jailbreak where no violence was involved the Army were ordered to shoot to kill. The Army will not allow themselves to be battered around by any anarchist or any person out to disrupt the security of the State. Therefore,  we should give them the necessary powers. I hope the Minister will explain to this House what has really taken place with regard to the shoot-to-kill rules. I have explained that people feel very uncomfortable about them. After all, a jailbreak could refer to a man who was in custody trying to escape.
Mr. Meaney: I am sure the Minister read The Evening Herald before I did and he should have done something about it by now. He said he was spending a great deal of money helping the Army in the field of sport and other ways. We thoroughly agree with that. We are most anxious that wherever the Army are involved they will become part of the local community. There is no better way for getting involved in the local life than through sporting activities. The Army have always been noted for their great athletes in the past and this is to their advantage when mixing with the public.
In October, 1973, the Minister amended the regulations in order to permit married men up to the age of 28 years to enlist in the Defence Forces. He revised that regulation again in 1974. Under the revised arrangement it was stated that any man married or single without previous service may enlist up to the age of 32 years. We thoroughly approve of that. The Minister may have to cater for this special category of individuals. A married man who joins the Army after seven or eight years of married life may not be as anxious to volunteer for Border duty or duty with the United Nations in the Middle East as the man who enlisted when he was single and married in the service. I have no doubt that the married man will fulfil his duty and provide a service which will relieve others to take up those onerous duties.
We do not pay enough attention to the FCA. It is not always easy to get recruits. In the bigger population centres a sufficient number of recruits can be found, but in the rural and  sparsely populated areas, where do we look for these recruits? As boys we were very interested in guns. We should start a drive to involve and instruct our young boys in the proper use of arms. It is through this aspect that the anarchists appeal to the youth. They will supply arms and will give them a military life. The young boys will enlist and then find that they cannot get out. Therefore, I ask the Minister if something could be done to “sell” the FCA, particularly in the rural and sparsely populated areas. The FCA are not close enough to the regular Army. They should become more involved.
We will never have an Army big enough to carry out its duties to cover every eventuality here. If the FCA and the Army were more closely associated they could carry out some of those duties. They did a great job in the past few years by guarding many important installations. They do not get much in return and, to my mind, they are real patriots. If a small group of anarchists decided to disrupt the democratic processes, have we any real plans laid to cope with such a situation? I cannot emphasise enough to the Minister that a very small group can tie down a very big army with modern guerilla warfare tactics. Our Army is not big; it is pushed to the limit when some of our men are sent to the peace-keeping missions in the Middle East, and along the Border. It is at that stage that the FCA could play their part. What combined role can these play? It will be very difficult for the Minister to tie up every loophole but he should try to do that from now on.
The FCA need more glamour to appeal to the youth to join. The present recruits do great work but people in the rural areas, and especially in small towns, do not appreciate just what they are doing. That is a shame and a disgrace. At all times, members of the FCA should have neater and dressier uniforms. They should have their own bands if they wish. Anything that will help recruitment should be encouraged. As I said, young people should have a knowledge  of the use of arms. If they attended lectures they would get an insight into Army life, why we have an Army and why there can only be one Army here.
Members of our Defence Forces are serving in the Middle East and are doing a very good job. A man from my constituency was missing in Syria for a few days. At the moment the report is good. That brought home to us the danger to which those people are exposed. It is sad to say that it is the small nations on which the people of the world are depending to ensure that there will not be a holocaust or World War III. The big powers are arming the smaller nations and the smaller nations are fighting each other. It is small nations like ours which must send the cream of their youth to carry out these peace-keeping missions. We have had our losses. We have men at the moment along the Suez Canal, in Syria and in Cyprus. We have built up a very good reputation. It is very wrong for the big powers to rearm these nations. In the United Nations the smaller nations should make it clear that if the big powers rearm the Jews and Arabs that they cannot expect us to send out our men to keep the peace and to expose the cream of our youth to injury or death.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs should emphasise that more and more. Ministers have come in here at various times and said that the United Nations are not the quickest to pay up money due to this country for peace keeping duties. This is a sad reflection on the United Nations. One would wonder whether they have any “meas” on us at all or whether we are there on a foolish errand; whether, if we stick our nose in to keep law and order, they will come behind our backs and rearm those forces again. I do not know, but it is a mighty strain on us to have to send men to such places as the Middle East, Cyprus, the Congo and so on. I do not see any United Nations help arriving to solve our own problems. We have to provide our own men and  material. It is a fair strain on our taxpayers to provide Army personnel, modern weapons and so on. Surely there should be a fund in the United Nations which would help small peace-loving nations such as ours to keep their armies modernised. I do not think that is asking too much. They should at least be able to give us £3 million or £4 million a year. We deserve that. We have our own problems and our Minister for Foreign Affairs should be seeking such money from the United Nations.
I should like the Minister to state his policy on new barracks and the rehousing of personnel. I understand that he has come to an agreement with the local authorities in Monaghan and in Dundalk about the housing of Army personnel. There were objections in those areas to the Army coming in because the people thought the Army personnel would be applicants for houses being built and earmarked for the local people. I understand that the Minister and the Army have decided that they will build their own houses and will not interfere at all with the waiting list for rehousing in any county where barracks are being erected. I should like the Minister to make a categorical statement on that when he is replying.
The Government and the Department of Defence seem to have come to a decision about the attendance of Army personnel at certain functions. There were many people upset this year to find that the Defence Forces were not represented at the Easter parades. Easter in Ireland is a very special time of commemoration. I know there are many people now who do not want to hear of commemorations at all. I believe we can celebrate them in a responsible manner. We have Easter parades all over the country commemorating the Easter Rising. I see nothing at all wrong with that. There are people who say that too many commemorations upset young people and cause them to be extremists. Suppose in the morning the Government decided that no such commemoration would be allowed, there would be people whose motives might not be the best as regards our  democratic institutions who would glory in holding them and encouraging people to attend them. The Government would want to consider well before they cut down too much on such commemorations. I do not believe they should be at every crossroads but I think the Easter commemoration has a very special appeal for the Irish people. There are people in the Government—I am not referring to the Minister present—who consider that we should not even discuss Irish history now. I believe we should discuss it and discuss it factually. School children should know our factual history.
Mr. Meaney: I do not know what game the Minister plays but I referred to factual Irish history. I should like the Minister to make the position clear about the attendance of Army or FCA personnel at commemorations which they have attended down the years. I do not believe it will serve any purpose to discontinue that. I would appeal to the Minister to make sure they will be there.
The Minister ran into some problems with his recruiting campaign during the year. He did not have enough uniforms for recruits. That should not have occurred. The Minister said there were many extenuating circumstances but during the campaign some recruits were turned away and told to come back again. In the main they did come back, but that should not have occurred. There was a shortage of certain sizes of uniform. This House is willing to vote money and the Minister in an emergency should have no problem in getting what he wants. This should never occur again. It is bad for the Army. It happened within the past 12 months and we sincerely hope it will never happen again.
I understand there is a new system of identification in the Army for people returning to barracks. There is a more stringent form of identification now for people returning to barracks because the wrong person could present himself.
Mr. Meaney: It happened once but it is in the pipeline and there is no point in dealing with it when it has gone too far. I am sure the Minister has plans made to counteract this new pastime of certain anarchists.
Mr. Meaney: We are completely behind the Minister in whatever measures he takes to see that those men and their families are safeguarded and given whatever protection he and the Army think is necessary for their safeguard.
Mr. Donegan: May I say that this is not possible? If we had all the money in the world to build ten ships we could not build them in five minutes. Therefore, if the Deputy wants to say that the ship will not be available this year, of course it will not; but the best effort is being made. I hope the ship will be built in Cork—I should like that to be recorded—at the earliest possible date. My date is August and I hope I can make it then.
Acting Chairman: The Chair welcomes the Minister's explanation and allowed him to proceed. Again I would appeal to Deputy Meaney as far as possible, in fact entirely, that he should address his remarks to the Chair rather than to the Minister.
Mr. Meaney: I agree it is a very serious problem. We have not sufficient ships in the Naval Service, even with the extra ship that will be built, to patrol our waters in the interest of the Irish fishing industry. In the future an increased expanse of water will have to be patrolled. I hope we will be given this extra 10,000 miles at the conference, but the Naval Service will have to lay plans to see it is properly patrolled and that foreign vessels will not be able to come in and fish ad lib. to the detriment of Irish fishermen. This will take a lot of work. We should use the helicopters more and more. They would be a great aid in spotting foreign trawlers fishing illegally. They would have radio contact with the fishery protection vessels.
Mr. Meaney: The Minister can interject and state the number of miles he has travelled in a helicopter. I can discuss that again. How will this vast territory be patrolled and how will foreign vessels be stopped from illegal fishing to the detriment of the Irish fishing industry? What plans have the Minister and the Naval Service for carrying out those patrols?
Mr. Meaney: Fair enough. It is all right to give a Press conference and to say what we will gain in territory. How will it be patrolled? That is the question being asked by the people involved in the fishing industry. I am giving the Minister the chance of stating what his plans are, how the extra territorial waters will be patrolled and how much extra it will cost. If it costs extra money we on this side of the House will back the Minister so that he can provide the extra personnel, the extra ship, the extra helicopter or whatever else the Minister requires for that particular duty.
Mr. Meaney: We built up the protection service. The Minister knows that the housing of Army personnel and the new barracks began with the previous Government. The Minister likes to interrupt. I have let him off very lightly because he is a man of high publicity. He likes to have the cameras on him but I can get quite hot on this matter if he wants to press me on it. The Minister is the greatest danger to security in this country over the last 12 months owing to his negligence of duty and the way he is carrying out his duties as Minister for Defence.
I have not been too personal to the Minister in this debate. It is impossible not to be sometimes because he invites that kind of reference in his daily actions as Minister for Defence. I want to refer particularly to the new Asgard which he referred to in detail. We hope it will be on the lines of the other vessel. I want to refer to something the Minister said in the Dáil on the 6th December, 1973 when the Asgard replacement was being discussed. A question was put down by Deputy Lemass on that day. I refer to Volume 269, column 1229. Deputy Esmonde asked the Minister:
Mr. Meaney: It is pressure that brought the Minister as far as that. The statement I read out was made by him in the Dáil. It was a disgraceful statement to make. Now the Minister says that the best is Irish. He is another convert, as he is also in  relation to wealth taxes. We have him on the right road now.
Mr. Meaney: I now move on to what the Minister said he is doing for Civil Defence. The money is money well spent. In small villages and in rural areas it is not easy to get people to volunteer for Civil Defence. In order to get the message across I would suggest that the Minister should, in co-operation with his colleague, the Minister for Education arrange lectures in the schools, particularly the primary schools, to instil into the children this idea of Civil Defence. Indeed, everything appertaining to the Army should be publicised in this way. There should be much greater involvement all round.
With regard to wound and disability allowances, there is room for improvement. We should remember, too, that Army personnel are now exposed to much greater dangers than they were up to recently. That is true both of those at home and those serving abroad. Allowances have been increased admittedly but I do not regard the increases as sufficient in this day and age. The idea should be to make Army service as attractive as possible. If the Minister is willing to provide more money, we will be willing to give it to him.
All Army personnel should be trained in some trade or profession so that, when men leave the Army, they will not be faced with unemployment. Men who serve in the Army and in the FCA, provided they are properly trained, should get the preference in outside employment. These are the kind of incentives that will induce men to join the Army.
Again, I want to refer to the removal of a certain individual from the Army Pensions Board. He was replaced by someone not fit to tie his shoe laces. The sad thing is that  the man who was removed had given a lifetime of service to the nation.
With regard to the survivors from the War of Independence, as the Minister said, the numbers are decreasing every year. I do not think we have paid enough tribute to these men and women at all. Were it not for them we would not be sitting here today. When they took up arms, they did not expect any monetary reward. I believe we have not done enough for them. The special allowances should be increased. I argued for this when we had a Fianna Fáil Government in office. I am arguing for it again now. I am quite consistent. The means test is much too rigid. If it is a hardship on a son to support his father and mother and the Social Welfare officer says that it is a hardship, the allowance will be paid. If the Social Welfare officer decides otherwise no allowance will be paid. The regulations should be the same as those governing the old age pensions. These men should have a minimum of at least £5 per week. After that a means test could be applied. The regulations are enforced too rigidly and there are many who deserve to get something but do not qualify at the moment. It would be a nice gesture if the House were to give those who served the country so well at least £5 per week without any means test. We should tell them we will allow them £5 per week and then apply the means test. If a person were allowed that amount in addition to his old age pension he could be reasonably satisfied he was not forgotten by the State. Fianna Fáil introduced the scheme for free travel but there is a snag in that the wife must be accompanied by her husband——
Mr. Meaney: The Minister should extend free travel to wives of veterans. Although the husband may  be more than 70 years of age his wife may be ten or 15 years younger. Representations have been made by all sides of the House to give this concession to wives of veterans. The Minister for Finance said he would mention the matter in the budget but he did not do so. If the wife were allowed free travel in her own right, she could retain this after the death of her husband. In providing this concession the State will not have to pay very much.
Mr. Meaney: I have put forward some of the points of concern to this party and I hope the Minister will reply to them when he is concluding. I want him to comment on what appeared in the evening papers about shooting conditions and rules in the Army. I want him also to refer to the Claudia incident which he neglected to do last year. The action of the Minister was a danger to the security of the State and he owes an explanation to the House. Previously the Chair held the matter could not be discussed here but now we can debate it and I am looking forward to hearing the Minister's explanation.
Mr. Meaney: I am not in favour of letting foreigners get out of the country when they are guilty and a danger to our security. The Minister personally let those men get out of the country when they were a danger to security but nationals were arrested for the same offence. The Minister should not have let them away and he owes the House an apology.
Mr. O'Sullivan: As one of the founder members of the national Army it is natural that I should wish to say a few words in this debate. The Army is the army of the people, on which they depend. In the 50 years it has been in existence it has acquitted itself very well. As one who went through the Civil War and the War of Independence, it is gratifying to find after all those years that the major differences between those who fought on opposite sides have been peacefully settled. Sometimes when I see how hot and bothered Members get in debates over trifles I think of the people who had the misfortune to be on opposite sides in the Civil War who met years afterwards and renewed their friendships. I hope that the younger generation in the near future will adopt the same attitude.
I see the former Minister for Defence in the House. I have known him for many years. He had a tough period in office but he always regarded the honour of the country and the Army as a top priority. When he was in office he could be relied on to do his best for the Army and the country.
Mr. O'Sullivan: I have known the new Minister for a long time. He has had to deal with difficult situations in his short period in office. While many may say he has been zealous in his duties, there is no doubt that if he erred it was on the side of keeping complete control over what was happening. He was always available and made it his business to stay with the Army when they were carrying out their duties.
The people know what he has done since he became Minister. I can assure him that his own colleagues on this side of the House, and I am sure Members opposite, will give him every support in carrying out his duties. During the years this country has gone through difficult times. I hope we will never have a civil war again in the country. As politicians,  we should educate the younger people on the dangers of civil war. Every Irish citizen, no matter his class or creed, should be safe in his home or business. There should not be any fear of danger to himself or his property by any subversive organisations I would ask all the people to give their support to the Army. It is their own army and they are contributing funds to its upkeep. The officers and soldiers in the national Army, in civil defence, in the Naval Service, and the officers under the Minister for Justice are doing their best to ensure the safety of people, to give them confidence and to ensure that the functions of the State continue in a proper manner.
I often thought that when the Army started they had to go into very bad buildings and many young men lost their health, not because of injuries received, but because the barracks were not suitable. They were damp and old. One of the grievances I had against all Governments was that they did not get rid of these old barracks long ago. Deputy Meaney said it would be a good idea to give the old barracks and land which are not used by the Department of Defence over to the local authorities such as county councils or housing authorities. They must be very valuable sites now. Many of them in Dublin would be very valuable sites, I am sure. If the Army got rid of the old barracks and built new barracks throughout the country it would be very beneficial to the serving members of our Army. I hate to think of them living in damp, bad, old buildings and in conditions which are not up to modern standards. I should like to see them housed in new barracks. They are entitled to that. I would ask the Minister to make the housing of the National Army one of his top priorities.
I should like to pay tribute to all those engaged in civil defence. This is a voluntary body. These people go out and train for a very important purpose. If we have difficulty, the first people who are called are the civil defence people. The Minister should help them in every way possible. On various occasions when we had floods or fires they helped  the fire brigades and the military and Garda forces. They deserve great credit for the work they are doing.
I include the Red Cross in that tribute. They are not attached to the Defence Forces but they have cooperated with them for many years. I was very sorry Mrs. Barry was not reappointed to the board of the Red Cross. She is a lady who gave great service long before we had our freedom and she continued to do so up to the present. Many people in Cork were disappointed that she was not reappointed to the office she held so long and so honourably.
Mention has been made of Army commemorations up and down the country. I see no reason why people who deserve it should not be commemorated. I was one of the first people who organised the General Michael Collins Commemoration. I do not see why men like him and others who gave service to the State should not be commemorated and why the Army should not be present during those commemorations. Some people have said that there are too many commemorations and firing parties. I saw recently that the last surviving commandant of the Third Cork Brigade made it perfectly clear in his will that there should be no firing party over his grave because he thought it was more or less a political gimmick in many cases. I thoroughly agree with him. He was buried without the flag on his coffin and without a shot fired over his grave although he was the last surviving commandant of the old Third Cork Brigade. Things like that can be carried too far. I hope that in future we will not commemorate our dead in a political fashion and that we will give them what they are entitled to, commemoration.
I am glad to see that the Minister is taking important steps to see that the Army jumping team is provided with suitable mounts, with horses and horsemen who will do credit to our country. I remember, and every Irishman remembers, with pleasure the many times our horsemen made history throughout the world when they  won the most important events in international horse shows from Quebec to New York, Rome and all over the Continent. Not only did they bring honour and credit to themselves but also to the nation. They were the best ambassadors the Irish people had.
Mr. O'Sullivan: I hope the day will come again when our horses and horsemen in the Irish Army will carry the flag with credit throughout the world as they did before. I see no reason why they should not. Our horses and our men are as good today as they ever were, and probably better. I am sure the Minister, who is interested in the sport himself, will give every help and assistance in building up an Army team that will bring credit to ourselves and to our country. As I said, they are the best ambassadors we could have.
I know that the provision of naval services will cost a lot of money but it was never more important than it is today to build up our naval services. As we are all aware, the limit has been increased and will be increased. I should like to see it increased to the same extent as the Icelanders are trying to increase theirs. We have a long shore line. We are the nearest point to America. If we have our rights we can meet the Yanks half way across the Atlantic.
Mr. O'Sullivan: We have a big territory there. Our fishing interests are developing in a very big way. I remember French and Spanish trawlers were coming right up to our coasts. Now they are keeping a bit further out but they are still fishing in our waters. It is very important for our fishermen and for the country that we get the benefit of our excellent fishing waters and that foreigners should be kept as far away from the shore as possible. Everything should be done to make provision in this regard whether with naval vessels or helicopters to look after our fishing interests. There is a dockyard in Cork that has provided one vessel already.
 I hope that if more are needed they will get the orders because it will give much needed employment in the area. This dockyard has been giving good employment for a number of years and turning out very good vessels.
As a married old IRA man, I have already made representations in regard to travelling vouchers for wives of old IRA men. Under recent regulations they cannot travel unless accompanied by their husbands but many of the veterans are unable to travel at all. Many are probably older than their wives and the wives are unable to travel because the husbands are unable to go out as often as they would like. I should like the Minister to cut the red tape and extend to the wives the privileges their husbands have. It is only fitting especially with the dwindling number involved that this concession should be given to the wives of the veterans. I appeal to the Minister, if it is not included in the budget, to see that money is provided for this.
I hope that everybody will feel the Army is being well looked after. Money spent on it is well spent. The Army personnel should be properly housed and fed and should have plenty of facilities for training and exercise. Much of the old equipment is obsolete and many of the barracks are out of date. The best should be provided for the Army and every possible facility given to them. This is the most important Department of Government. I hope the Minister will be there to look after it for a long time. I can assure him that if he does he will get the full support of all the members of the old National Army and the men who founded this State during the War of Independence.
Mr. Cronin: First, I think I should express gratitude to Deputy O'Sullivan for his comments on my term of office. We have had many associations in different ways in the past and his remarks were very generous indeed. If there is any area from which politics should be completely excluded it is from the Department of Defence.
Mr. Cronin: We have good reason to recognise and appreciate the fact that the loyalty of the Army and the Defence Forces has been consistent and unshakeable with two successive Governments. The Army is the buttress of the nation and anything I could say would hardly convey my appreciation and the appreciation of the nation to the men of the Defence Forces who have served so loyally through the years.
At this time the Army have taken on an even more important role in that not only do they have the primary duty of defending our shores but are also involved in United Nations peace-keeping operations. Also, we have our internal problem of Border patrols. In the past boredom, perhaps, was one of the main problems in Army life. We had to have an Army but to keep it fully occupied and interested was a problem. Having regard to the wide and increasing range of demands now made on the Army, I am sure that problem at least is eliminated.
Having said that, it is clear that the well-being and the morale of the Army is very important and should concern all of us. I am sorry to say that I have a few criticisms to make and it is right that I should record them. The first is that I regret the decision of the Government and the Minister to dismiss two senior Army personnel. They had given distinguished service not only to this country but, one in particular, the more senior of the two, had given distinguished service in the United Nations. I refer to Lieutenant-General Seán MacEoin. I thought it was a most unfortunate and morale-damaging action to remove him from office——
An Ceann Comhairle: I hesitate to interrupt the Deputy but I wish to point out that it is a convention of the House that we do not refer to personalities outside the House who cannot defend themselves. The Chair prefers that we attach neither praise nor blame to such personalities.
Mr. Cronin: Also the security situation generally is, I regret to say, on a shaky basis at present because the decisions of the Departments of Justice and Defence, which are jointly responsible for security matters, have not been soundly based. Certain actions have generated panic throughout the nation such as the recent incident in an Irish port when ships were surrounded——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair would prefer that the Minister should reserve his remarks until the end of the debate. In the meantime I would expect that Deputies would be allowed to speak without interruption. Deputy Cronin.
Mr. Donegan: The Deputy has been shocking. We must see to it that we can go home to our beds tonight, that we are alive and that we shall not have that sort of thing. The double-think from Fianna Fáil——
Mr. Cronin: I was exposing and highlighting public thinking on certain decisions and actions taken by the security departments in recent times. Much as I dislike making this kind of criticism, it is a fact that there was evidence of a complete lack of cohesion and contact in Cork between the Departments of Justice and Defence.
Mr. Cronin: It is inevitable that politics would come into a situation like that. There was evidence of a lack of cohesion between the two Departments. The Minister for Defence failed to inform the Minister for Justice that the vessel in question contained a small supply of arms for the Army. That had a damaging effect on the morale of the Army. The men were on duty and were standing guard on the ship. This all made a laugh of security arrangements. As well as that it hurts me that the Minister, for whom I have much regard in many ways, said in his comments on the wealth tax last week——
Mr. Cronin: The morale of the Army is of vital importance. We must ensure an improvement of standards all around for Army personnel. Pay conditions have been improved. The emphasis should now be on improved accommodation for military personnel.
Mr. Cronin: During my term of office I had initiated action for the replacement of the Dublin barracks by a suitable and modern military complex outside Dublin. The proposals had reached an advanced stage. I should like the Minister in his reply to indicate what progress, if any, has been made towards the finalisation of this project.
Mr. Cronin: Great stress was laid on the necessity for improvement when I was in office. Deputy Clinton, as shadow Minister for Defence at the time, said that the provision of more modern accommodation for the Army outside Dublin was of vital importance.
Mr. Cronin: I should like the Minister to indicate what progress has been made towards the provision of such accommodation for military personnel. The properties owned by the Department of Defence must be of considerable commercial value and would be useful to local authorities for housing. It would be highly desirable, from a strategic point of view as well as from a commercial point of view, to take the military outside the perimeter of Dublin. I hope that the Minister will deal with this point in his reply.
I hope also that the Minister will tell us about the proposal to establish a special security division or unit in Dublin city. I am a Corkman but I recognise that Dublin holds one-third of our population and is the most likely target. It is vulnerable. The Minister should consider the establishment of a particular security unit within the Army.
Mr. Cronin: There should be a military complex outside Dublin. Deputy Meaney referred to military participation in national commemorations I had the sad experience this year of being refused by the Minister for Defence when a request was made to him to allow the local FCA personnel to participate in annual Easter commemorations at Mallow. The local people have made their feelings known to the Minister. I was disappointed that a decision was taken to deny the local young men who are members of the FCA permission to participate in what has always been a peaceful and orderly event at the annual Easter Commemoration.
I would commend the Department on the disposal of unwanted defence property. There was a sale of property at Ballincollig. The local authorities got land. The Minister might consider disposing of some of the military range at Kilworth. When I was in office I had recommendations for the sale of some of this property.
Mr. Cronin: The Minister should look at this point. Having regard to the value of land and the importance of improving holdings and production generally the Minister might have another look at the position at this  place while appreciating the military point of view as well.
Mr. Cronin: The need to expand the Naval Service was mentioned. I am pleased that the Minister is following the guidelines laid down by the previous Government and intends to provide another fishery protection vessel. I hope it will be built in Cork.
Mr. Cronin: As regards the FCA they are a very useful unit of the Defence Forces. They have played an important role in recent difficult times when security forces were pressed to the limit. I would like to see more integration between the FCA and the Permanent Defence Forces.
Mr. Cronin: This is a matter for decision and arrangement. The FCA are a dedicated body who would give unstinted support in any situation. We have a useful unit of the Defence Forces in the civil defence unit. Demands on that group have not been as great during the past year as they were in previous years. This was because they did not have a refugee problem to contend with. I would make one point in relation to the chain of command in the civil defence. In a recent case of flooding in my town, the civil defence were not available. In any emergency the local Garda superintendent should be in a position to authorise the presence of the civil defence.
Mr. Cronin: During the terms of office of Fianna Fáil some additional concession was given to these people almost every year. When this Government were in opposition they made a strong case for the extension to widows of veterans of the free travel concession. However, now that that party are in Government no such concession has been given. I would impress on the Minister the importance of keeping constantly in mind the needs of Old IRA veterans or of the widows, as the case may be. Their numbers have been diminishing continuously. I hope the Government will help them in every way possible.
In conclusion I express the hope that in the future the Minister will exercise more discretion in the control of his Department than he has exercised in the past year, that greater stability will be restored and that the Minister will give better example than he has given so far since coming to office.
Mr. Nolan: Like the other speakers I, too, pay tribute to the officers and NCO's of our Defence Forces for the work they are doing, particularly in the present circumstances. I pay tribute also to those who are serving overseas.
When I spoke on the Estimate for this Department two years ago I referred at length to the role of the FCA in our Defence Forces. I suggested that the regulations governing recruitment to the FCA should be amended so that boys who have completed their intermediate or group certificate courses could be recruited between the months of June and September, that they could be stationed for that time at one of the camps and paid as soldiers. In the subsequent year, if they were still at school, they could complete another period of training during the  summer months. In this way not only would we be training what would become a first-class reserve force but the boys would benefit greatly from the point of view of discipline, hygiene and comradeship.
It is not often that we politicians have time to view television but I happened to be watching “The Late Late Show” on Saturday last and I heard much discussion on the subject of vandalism. Various points of view were put forward as to how young people who, for the time being, have gone astray, might be dealt with. However, nobody either on the panel or in the audience suggested as a solution an extension of the regulations governing recruitment to the FCA. As an ex-Army man I am aware of the sense of comradeship that builds up among men in an army. It was this sense of comradeship that gave rise to the grand phrase: “I soldiered with him”. Army life also induces a sense of admiration and respect for one's country and for authority.
When I expressed those views here before, Deputy Cosgrave, who is now the Taoiseach, indicated in his contribution that he was thinking on the same lines. I went further at that stage and suggested, as I am suggesting again that, while I would not favour conscription of any kind, any boy who had completed a two or three months training course in the FCA who had qualified as a first-class soldier and who, subsequently, would sit for his leaving certificate examination might be given credit for that training, either by way of it being accepted as a subject in the examination or, else, that he be given a certain percentage marking for it. I think that an extra 5 per cent in markings in the leaving certificate would be reasonable after a boy had completed a couple of months training in the FCA in each of two years. I trust that the Minister will consider this suggestion.
There is much emphasis on providing recreational facilities for our young people. These aspirations are very good but there will always be some boys for whom community centres or sports facilities have not  much appeal. These people, in particular, would benefit from Army training.
Another aspect of Army life that has been drawn to my attention by many people from my constituency who are serving in the Defence Forces is the provision whereby, on retiring after 21 years' service, a gratuity is paid to a married soldier but not to an unmarried one. I do not know what the reason for this is. It may be said that a married man needs resettlement money on leaving the Army but an unmarried person, too, must find somewhere to live. This situation is causing much annoyance to unmarried personnel.
Certain concessions are given to Army men in some semi-State bodies when they leave the Army. We are not doing enough for these people. When men leave the Army after 21 years' service they are still under 40 years of age. There should be jobs reserved for them in State institutions such as the Houses of the Oireachtas because they have served their country. I sincerely hope that the Minister for Defence, as an influential Minister in the Cabinet, will use his power to ensure that in the various State and semi-State bodies certain jobs suitable for ex-Army personnel, NCOs and men, will be reserved for them.
I do not come from a coastal constituency but I am interested in fishing vessels and protection. I had the pleasure of being on the Deirdre and the Gráinne. I discussed fishery protection with the officers. I have often heard it said: “What good is the Gráinne? What good is the Deirdre?” If a boat is sighted 20 miles away, it has gone by the time the Gráinne or the Deirdre gets there. It does not matter if one has the fastest boat in the world and someone fishing inside our territorial waters is sighted on the horizon, by the time the boat gets to that particular spot the fishing vessel could have got away. The point the officers make is that the old rule of the sea is not too bad. If a boat does not stop when it is called upon to do so, a warning shot is fired and the boat will then wait until they get there. Our vessels are suitable for this purpose.  I believe the Minister is thinking of getting another one. Surely this small country cannot afford a navy which will ring our coast in the present circumstances? I am satisfied that, with the limited budget at the Minister's disposal, if we get another vessel similar to the Gráinne it will do the job adequately.
Deputy Cronin asked if we were treating old IRA veterans really well. In every budget, no matter which Government is in power, there are a few shillings given to them. Some of them also get free travel. They should be brought into line with non-contributory old age pensioners. This year, a non-contributory old age pensioner got an extra £3.50 for his wife. If an old IRA pensioner dies, his widow gets half his pension, or the minimum of £1 whichever is the greater. If a man in receipt of a special allowance, dies his wife gets nothing. As Deputy Meaney said, we should look after these people better.
There was a major increase in the Estimate for Defence. I am satisfied that those people who founded this State, and who never thought of monetary compensation, are being forgotten. I ask that at least they get the same concessions as the non-contributory old age pensioners, especially with regard to the allowances for widows, that is, that when the pensioner dies his widow will get some concessions.
Mr. Taylor: This is a very important Estimate for those who are dependent on the security provided by the Defence Forces combined with the services supplied by the forces under the Department of Justice. The combination of both forces during the past year has shown how successfully the security of the State can be maintained. The deployment of those joint forces have shown how successful operations can be carried through. At no time in our history has any Minister for Defence, or the present Minister, in any way interfered with our Chief of Staff at GHQ, or dictated how the tactical deployment of our troops should be operated. The people  in command of the forces, who have distinguished themselves in military academies of the United States, England and here, should be given responsibility. They have justified the confidence which the Government placed in them. It is very wrong for any body to accuse the Minister of interfering in any way with security measures.
The present Minister's function has been discharged in a way of which we can be proud. He has raised the status of our Defence Forces in every way possible. He has contributed in no small way towards the raising of the morale in the forces, which is necessary in the period in which we now live. This is not a crisis period, but it is one in which our Defence Forces must show more alertness than in the period of comparative peace which we enjoyed up to four or five years ago.
The Minister has made many improvements to the billets, cookhouses, messes and gymnasia. This is an indication of his concern for the raising of the status of the men in our Army. He provided the necessary finances to improve equipment and transport. Transport, in particular, is vital to an army. It is vital that our forces have adequate and speedy transport to move them to troubled spots here. The purchase of additional aircraft, both jets and helicopters, was necessary. The improvement in our naval vessels was long overdue, but has been done as quickly as possible.
The most important thing for an Army is to have available at all times young men who will contribute towards the protection of our nation and who have a true sense of patriotism to serve in our armed forces. During the past year this patriotism has been demonstrated by the number of men who have volunteered for service. They are certainly contributing to the protection of our nation and its institutions. The attractive conditions now offered to young recruits will mean in the future a larger intake of men and will contribute in a big way to men who have service continuing to serve.
It is encouraging for parents who  have sons who are suitable mentally and physically to find that within the Army they now have the opportunity to improve their education. They can do the group certificate, the leaving certificate and those of officer rank have the opportunity to go to university. The Minister has also given thought to the provision of proper accommodation for cadets in Galway. I would say the Minister is very conscious of the necessity to provide adequate sporting facilities within the Army. He has allowed for extra expenditure on gymnasia in different barracks. We appreciate that it is difficult to have men available for physical training teams when there is such constant demand for their services on Border duty and on bomb disposal work, on truce supervision overseas and on UN work. Nevertheless, with the present intake of recruits I would urge the Minister to consider that PT teams in the past played a very important part in raising the morale of our forces and I would say of our citizens and they should now be brought up to standard. Displays in different areas would in themselves be a real inducement to young men to join the Army because there is a desire on the part of many young men to attain a standard of physical fitness and there is that opportunity within the Army. One can play any game within the Army. There was never a ban on any game in the Army. That in itself was an encouragement to young men to join.
At the moment there is a strain imposed on our forces because of the Northern problem which is still with us. Over the last four or five years on Estimates here we have spoken about the time spent by Army personnel on bomb disposal work. There were about 600 calls on the Army for this type of work in the past year. The people who were responsible, and I am not saying who was responsible, should reconsider. They should ask themselves whether they are attaining their objectives by continuing something which the vast majority of people in the country do not want. If they want to achieve their objectives they should reconsider their methods. There is only one method by which  they can bring about the situation which they profess to desire and that is by recognising the elected Government, by recognising our institutions, by respecting our Army and Garda force. By their actions they are embarrassing our Army and making it difficult for our Garda force to do the ordinary work of crime prevention. There should be a rethink on the part of people who are responsible for activities which engage our Army on work which is not fruitful.
Our volunteer force is a vital force in our integrated Army and has been for many years. It is a force which works quietly and gets little publicity but which has been contributing much since 1940. I refer to the FCA, the membership of which is steadily increasing and the morale of which has always remained high. The contribution of the FCA in the form of week-end duty protecting vital institutions is continuing. When the Minister is introducing his Supplementary Estimate I would like him to give greater thought to how this force could be harnessed to contribute even more. I would like to see a different style of uniform and a second uniform for all volunteers. That is vital because when men are engaged on tactical exercises, or even on normal practices, they are in serious danger in inclement weather if they have not got a change of uniform. There should be extra clothing provided for the FCA.
As we are a small nation with limited resources perhaps we should give some thought in the future to the part which a reserve force can play. We can never hope to have a big Army or to have adequate resources to equip that Army. However, we could build a reserve of trained officers, NCOs and men who would go on reserve after contributing a number of years to the regular service and who would then be recalled annually to refresh their military training. We would also have the FCA with this regular Army cadre. This would reduce the cost of having a big regular Army and it would make provision for a trained force which would be available if an emergency arose. One cannot afford to wait to  train men until such an emergency arises. It is much better to have trained men available to be called on when they are needed. It is important in this plan to have provision made that the jobs in civilian life which those men leave are available for them when the emergency expires.
I now want to refer to the Army Equitation School. An attempt has been made to revitalise it and to bring back some of the glory it once had. It is very important that the Minister, in conjunction with Bord na gCapall, should purchase suitable horses which are capable of being properly trained and which our Army officers will have available at home and when they go abroad. It is very important to have a good Army jumping team at both the Spring Show and Horse Show and also for competitions abroad, but it is also important to highlight the quality of Irish horses. We are all aware of the income we obtain from the sale of good quality horses. They are noted for their breeding.
The Minister made a very important decision to improve the equitation school. We wish them success in the years ahead. We will keep a watchful eye on the particular purchases that have been made. The Department of Defence for many years was looked on as not being as important as some others. It was wrong thinking on the part of those people who had that image in their minds. The Army play a very important part in any country. The control exercised by the GHQ and by the Minister for Defence on any Army guarantees the stability of the State. The present Minister for Defence has given every indication to his awareness of the importance of his ministry. We hope he will remain many years in that office to show further evidence of his ability to grace that particular office.
The Civil Defence service is a voluntary service which has not been appreciated up to now by the public. They work quite unobtrusively. Those people give up quite a lot of their free time. We should appreciate the work of volunteers in any capacity,  whether in civil defence, Slua Muirí or any other voluntary service. The contribution made by the people in civil defence has continued for many years. The quality of training given by the instructors is fully appreciated. The value of that training is very useful in rescue and casualty services in which those men take part. I should like to see those services continuing and to see many more people taking part in them. I should like to see parents encouraging their children, both boys and girls, to join the Civil Defence service.
It is an established fact that our Army give distinguished service in foreign countries. They uphold the best standards and their morale is of the highest. Their loyalty to this State is unquestioned. It is a strain on us and on them in the present period to continue having a troop supervisory service in the United Nations but the GHQ and the Minister think we should continue giving that service. They are the best judges and I suppose as long as the troops are needed they will be available.
The Minister made a very wise decision in employing civilians in jobs which can be performed very well by them in the Army barracks. This releases many soldiers for important duties elsewhere. I refer specifically to those engaged in duties in cookhouses, Army messes and other places where the work can be done very well by civilians. It was the practice up to recently to leave soldiers in those jobs for many years. The new practice adds an additional number of men to the forces who can make a very valuable contribution.
Mr. Taylor: The purchase of a new fishery protection vessel has been referred to in the Minister's statement. It cannot be stressed too forcibly that, because of the huge coastline  we have, it is impossible for our present vessel to patrol effectively. The service just cannot be given. Our rich fishing grounds must be protected for our people. At the moment a greater interest is being taken in fishing and we must do everything we can to ensure that these grounds are available for our own fishermen. A second vessel must be put into service as quickly as possible and I am glad the Minister said that he hopes to have it available as soon as possible.
It is wise to purchase helicopters and other aircraft necessary. Quick movement of troops is of vital importance. Supervision can be better maintained by aerial reconnaissance. The old slow methods are no longer applicable.
I believe the time has come when we should make an assessment of all our Army property. There are many valuable assets. The land held by the Army is a very valuable asset indeed. I am thinking in particular now of the Curragh. Is it necessary to hold on to this land? There must be a rethinking about this. I have been in the Curragh. I served and slept there and never was it necessary in that time to avail of the huge acreage of land lying there.
Many barracks in the Curragh and elsewhere are now obsolete. They too are valuable assets. There should be a tidying-up process and property that is no longer needed should be disposed of. In that way money would be made available for the purchase of more up-to-date equipment, extra fishery vessels, more helicopters and planes. More up-to-date trucks could be provided. The money obtained from the sale of these assets could be very usefully employed.
I am glad more provision is being made for the provision of married quarters. For too long Army personnel  have been required to live in accommodation provided by the British, out-of-date accommodation now, and I am glad more money is being provided for the purpose of making proper homes available in which married personnel can house their wives and children.
There is a difficulty about housing in the case of those men seconded to FCA units throughout the country. They act as training officers and instructors and they drive station wagons or other vehicles. They find themselves in competition with other applicants for local authority houses and, because of that, they have difficulty in getting adequate accommodation. There should be consultation between the Minister and his colleague, the Minister for Local Government, with a view to providing proper housing accommodation for these married men. They are vital in the scheme of things and they have woven a web in every county right through the country. They should get some kind of priority in housing. I always classify Army personnel and Naval personnel and those engaged in Civil Defence as the best people in the country. Nothing but the best is good enough for those who are loyal to the State and who make life more stable for all of us.
I should like the Minister to ensure that the FCA are given improved facilities. When Deputy Cronin was Minister for Defence I made representations to him to increase the gratuity payable to FCA men on annual training. He received me well, he increased the gratuity and I should like to thank him for his help in this matter. I find the present Minister most co-operative and understanding. I would ask him to keep under consideration the contribution made by the FCA and to have regard to the conditions and the pay. If the Minister is in office for a long time I know he will review the conditions of all the troops. Deputy Meaney criticised the Minister but I do not think he was serious in all he said. I am sure he appreciates the contribution made by the Minister as much as we do. I  hope the Minister will have a long period in office in which to guide the forces of the State and ensure the security of the country. I hope that during his time in office we will have the unity towards which all of us are working.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: This is my first time contributing to the debate on this Estimate. I should like to compliment our Army personnel, the FCA, the Red Cross and the Civil Defence service. In the short time since the foundation of the State our Defence Forces have established an image for themselves of which all of us can be proud. I am sure there are many improvements that could be carried out to improve their positions and I would ask the Minister to ensure that no effort is spared to provide better living conditions, more suitable barracks and facilities so that we may attract people into the Army.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I should like to pay a particular tribute to the troops serving on the Border. At times their task is difficult and I would ask the Minister to ensure that the morale of the Defence Forces is kept at the highest level and that co-operation continues between them and the Garda. I hope discontent will not creep in. There is evidence that there may be some discontent in the Garda Síochána and this could be a dreadful situation——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: The troops operate under severe strain and stress, they work unusual hours and many of them are away from their wives and families. They make a vital contribution towards our security and anything the Department can do to improve their conditions should be done. A Minister should not claim credit for carrying out these improvements; they are earned and well deserved.
 I am glad the Minister is continuing with recruitment and that he is going to intensify the campaign. I must criticise the Minister with regard to his references on television to “the Army fellow” and “the Garda fellow”. I have no doubt the Minister's references were not meant to be derogatory but he must remember they can be misinterpreted by those who want to do so. If a Minister makes references to people in the Army or in the Garda Síochána in a manner that may appear derogatory to anyone he deserves to be reprimanded. If he knows his place as Minister for Defence he should be corrected. I would forgive him if I thought he was in ignorance of the situation.
I have frequently thought that young people should be made more aware of the Army. We are a young State and we have come a long way but I have often thought that if an Army officer, an NCO and a private went around to schools talking to the children, not alone telling them about what the Army has to offer but letting them see at first hand the military appearance of the soldiers which all of us admire——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I am asking the Minister to arrange that Army personnel visit the schools. This idea might be developed further. School children should be encouraged to develop a sense of pride in the welldressed and well-disciplined Army personnel. This kind of exercise might encourage a young boy to think of the Army as a career. It might help the next Minister for Defence with regard to recruitment; when one of our members is on the other side of the House it would help him——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: If there was any problem, it came from the Minister's side of the House. Becoming parochial for a moment, there are a number of incidents in Cork to which I should like to refer. I am glad to see in the Minister's statement that progress is being made in the testing of the armoured carriers. His predecessor deserves to be complimented on being far-seeing enough to endeavour to have them produced in our own country. This was a major step forward. I am glad to see that the Minister is continuing it. I sincerely hope he will be pleased with them when they are completed. In the debate on last year's Estimate the Minister said that the Claudia affair was sub judice. That being so, I would have expected that, in introducing his  next Estimate, the Minister would have referred to the Claudia incident.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: At that time there was a screaming anxiety amongst newly appointed Ministers to get publicity at every possible opportunity. The Minister gained his. This news came in from Cork. He boarded his helicopter and we heard on news flashes and saw in newspapers the Minister's wonderful effort at kicking aliens in the transom. He sent them off to foreign parts without charging them and without questioning them. Instead the Government turned their attentions to the locals and the nationals. This was obviously bungling by the Minister. He should have played it in a low key in his position as Minister for Defence instead of looking for cheap publicity for his newly appointed Government. At the time they were imbued with the idea of publicity. This is one fatal mistake which the Minister made. Knowing that he is a manly man I hope that when he is replying, he will stand up and say: “I slipped there. I apologise to the House. I have learned from experience. It will not happen again.”
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Do not try to put a wrong construction on what I am saying. Accept, even in your present state, that you are a responsible Minister for Defence and allow me to continue. Men were charged and tried by our courts and entitled to be, but I am sorry to say that further penalties were imposed and continue to be imposed on those people, while these aliens, these non-nationals——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I want to refer to the publicity which was attached to the searching of boats in recent times. I agree wholeheartedly that, if there is suspicion, these vessels should be searched but, in fairness to the boat owners concerned and to the crews, as little publicity as possible should be given to the name of the boat for a very valid reason, I am sure the Minister will agree. Very many of these boats are probably innocent but once that has happened a certain tag is applied to the name. By all means do the searching but with the least possible publicity given to the name, destination, port of origin, and so on, of the vessels.
I want to discuss a few local areas of defence in Cork. The first concerns the Ballincollig Barracks which was offered for sale by the Department of Defence to Cork County Council with a large tract of land. This happened in the Minister's predecessor's time. It was organised by my colleague before I was elected for this area. When he saw this huge tract of land in Ballincollig, Deputy Meaney was sensible enough and far-seeing enough to realise that this would be an ideal area for the development of housing and light industry adjacent to Cork city.
He immediately had the wheels put  in motion to have this land acquired and, thanks to his efforts and the efforts of the Minister's predecessor, that has now become a reality with the handing over officially last week of this area to Cork County Council. This was a major step forward. There were vested interests, speculators and racketeers, call them what you will, who endeavoured to wrest those lands from the Army and take them over by devious and doubtful means from the Department of Defence. These people failed thanks to the efforts of Deputy Meaney and the Minister's predecessor. They were not our supporters, and I have heard about speculators and racketeers on this side of the House but they certainly were supporters of the Minister's party.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: The Minister should have a look at the barracks situation in Cork generally. Collins Barracks are well situated although, perhaps, not as accessible as one would wish in the case of a barracks for many reasons. Also the accommodation is not as good as one would desire. They require a good deal of improvements and maintenance. As I said at the outset, the members of the Defence Forces are entitled to the best possible accommodation. Would the Minister examine the possibility of changing the headquarters in Cork to a new barracks possibly sited in Ballincollig in the remaining ground available?
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I presume the Minister would be coming from Louth to Dublin rather than from Cork. I hope the Minister is not being led by some of his colleagues in Government, the majority of whom are Dublin-based and Dublin thinkers. In case they would have any idea—and I suspect from the comment the Minister made there must have been some pressure on him from some source to run down our area in the south——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I want to refer to other areas of land in Cork and particularly in the Crosshaven area. I should like the Minister to look at the situation and let us know what plans the Department have for it and whether any of it is available for other purposes. One local sports' organisation have a field there at present on very insecure tenure and if the Minister would consider that situation I should be obliged. I also ask him to look at a similar situation regarding a similar sporting body that have a small portion of Ballincollig to see if anything could be done there to make their tenure more secure.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Go raibh maith agat. I should like now to refer to sport in the Army generally. I am glad to hear the Minister say, in regard to the Equitation School, that he is determined to build up this school and make our horses the pride of the  world. We are all disappointed that in recent years they did not achieve the heights attained by former Army jumping teams.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I accept that it cannot be done overnight. You cannot just flick your fingers and everything is all right but it is very important. I was glad to see that you had some horses hired, or leased or rented from Bord na gCapall——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: You are not following my train of thought. I must bring you back again. I want to see you and your committee co-operating in a very practical way with Bord na gCapall. You have some horses at present procured by Bord na gCapall and I would encourage that co-operation which I think would be good for our bloodstock industry generally and good also for the Army jumping team.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: The Minister has promised me on three occasions that he would reply to points I made to him. I ask him not to forget that when the time comes to reply. I presume things will be more normal at that stage. I heard Deputy Taylor refer to inter unit sporting activities. I am all for that. There should be as much involvement as possible of Army teams in local competitions. It is good to have Army personnel mixing in sports with  the people of the area. Going back almost 20 years, we had the Collins football team in Cork representing Collins Barracks. I regard all men as equal and I would appeal to you——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: The officers and privates in Collins Barracks came together to form a football team and had a football club for many years that was the pride of Cork city and made a tremendous contribution to football. The names of these Army men became household words. This sort of thing and the idea of going to the schools—these things create an image that will make recruiting much easier for your successor whenever he may be appointed. This is very important. You are Minister at the moment and it is your function to provide for the future.
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