Dáil Éireann - Volume 525 - 07 November, 2000

Written Answers. - Defence Forces Reserve.

293. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Defence if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 196 of 2 November 1999, the steering group report on the reorganisation of the reserve force has been published; when he will have an implementation plan for the reorganisation of the reserve force; his views on the effect on the moral and effectiveness of reservists of the ongoing delay in commencing implementation in view of the stated six year duration of that plan; the current stage of the reorganisation process; and the time frame for completion. [24294/00]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The future development of the Reserve Defence Force will be based upon the report of the special steering group which was completed in September 1999. The report's recommendations have been accepted as providing a general foundation for the future development of the Reserve Defence Force.

The White Paper recognised that a notable and important feature of the existing FCA organisation is its nation-wide geographical spread. This particular aspect will, in general terms, be retained. The full organisational and establishment details of the new Reserve Force, as envisaged by the steering group, will have to be determined in the course of a detailed implementation process. That process will comprehend the drafting and development of a Reserve Defence Force review implementation plan, which will be based [470] on the steering group's report. The actual implementation of the structural and reorganisation changes will require a period of about six years. I am anxious, given the essential dependence of the Reserve Defence Force on voluntary service, that there should be a further process of consultation before these proposals are finalised. Arrangements are now being made for the launch of this process of consultation, linked to the publication of the steering group report beginning later this month. I am looking forward to meeting a cross section of members of the reserve and hearing their views on the proposed reorganisation at a series of seminars around the country.