Wednesday, 24 March 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
108. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Defence the number of ad hoc advisory groups in relation to policy or implementation established in his Department; the number of statutory committees; the number of other permanent groups; the number of interdepartmental groups; the cost of each in a full year; and the cost of individual advisers in the same period. [8590/99]
Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The following groups of the type referred to by the Deputy were appointed in the Department of Defence. As part of the White Paper preparation process, an inter-departmental group has been set up to consider the defence and security environment. This group comprises representatives from the civil and military branches of my Department, and the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Taoiseach, Justice, Equality and Law Reform and from the Garda Síochána. For security reasons the detailed work of the group cannot be published, however, the results of this study will form an input to the White Paper process.
Otherwise, preparation of the White Paper will be supported in an ongoing way through the work of civil and military officers to generate the inputs to the White Paper in line with the developing consultative and management process. This work is to be channelled through a joint civil military project management group. I propose to bring the White Paper to Government by summer 1999. There are no specific costs associated with this group, other than salary costs.
Following the recent Government decision on the reviews of the Air Corps and the Naval Service, it was agreed that a consultation group  should be established to provide a forum for the input of the key stakeholders in relation to the State air and sea services. There are two broad dimensions to the required planning work. The first of these relates to the strategic issues to be covered within the White Paper on Defence, the second dimension relates to effectiveness and efficiency measures recommended by Price Waterhouse Management Consultants. The consultation group, which I chair, comprises representatives from the civil and military branches of my Department, from the Department of Marine and Natural Resources, the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Finance and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
In January 1998 a steering group to oversee and direct a review of the Reserve Defence Force was established. The steering group has eight members, an independent chairman, who is a specialist in the field of organisation and restructuring, three senior military officers, three senior civil servants and a serving officer of An Forsa Cosanta Áitiúil. Secretarial services are provided by a civil servant from my Department.
The chairman is paid an agreed rate for his services and also receives travelling and subsistence expenses. Total payments to him up to the end of February 1999 amount to £17,200. As part of its review work, the steering group has visited a small number of Reserve Defence Force training exercises and annual camps and a small amount of travelling and subsistence expenditure was incurred.
The Curragh Task Force was established by the Government in July 1998. It is composed of representatives of departmental and State agencies with an interest in the Curragh. The primary function of the task force is to report and make recommendations on the future management and development of the Curragh and is due to make a final report to the Minister before the end of March 1999. The costs involved have been insignificant and will not exceed £1,000.
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