Dáil Éireann - Volume 387 - 14 February, 1989

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Army Strength.

7. Mr. Cullen asked the Minister for Defence the current strength of the Army at (a) officer level and (b) other ranks; and the overall strength of the Army at the end of (a) 1988, (b) 1987 and (c) 1986.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick West): The strength of the Permanent Defence Force as on 31 December 1988 the latest date for which such figures are available, was 13,278 comprised of 1,564 officers and 11,714 other ranks, including cadets.

The corresponding figure for 1987 was 13,170 comprised of 1,577 officers and 11,593 other ranks while the figure for 1986 was 13,647 comprised of 1,581 officers and 12,066 other ranks.

Mr. Bell: Would the Minister agree [17] from the figures he has given and the information supplied to me on a previous occasion, that the Army have lost approximately 1,800 private soldiers in the past couple of years? Would he agree that this is one of the reasons for the substantial increase in duties relating to security matters and in Border areas?

Mr. Noonan (Limerick West): The information the Deputy is giving is not correct. The figures for other ranks are as follows: 1988, 11,714; 1987, 11,593; 1986, 12,066; 1985, 12,767; 1984, 12,332; 1980, 12,312.

Mr. Bell: Does that not tally effectively with the figures I have given? There is a substantial drop in the number of serving troops. The majority hold the rank of private. Would the Minister agree that this is part of the reason additional security duties have to be borne by private soldiers?

Mr. Noonan (Limerick West): No, I do not agree as the duties in question are under constant consideration and proper decisions are being made in consultation with the military authorities.