On Wednesday 12 November at 2.30pm, the National Executive of the Reserve Defence Forces Representative Association (RDFRA) delivered a submission to the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality - chaired by Deputy David Stanton TD - in Leinster House.
This meeting took place by invitation following RDFRA's last submission to t he committee in April 2013, and served as an interim review of the implementation of the Value For Money (VFM) report.
In addition to the Committee chairman, the following TDs and Senators were in attendance: Deputy Sean O'Fearghail (FF), Deputy Sean Kenny (LAB), Deputy Finian McGrath (IND), Deputy John Paul Phelan (FG), Deputy Alan Farrell (FG), and Senator Martin Conway (FG). After opening remarks and a detailed opening statement from the RDFRA delegation, several members of the committee went on to praise the RDF. The issue of employment protection for reservists was then raised, and it was noted by the RDFRA delegation that members of the Garda Reserve enjoy the benefits of official Garda interaction with their employers (Ref. http://wwwjustice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR07000880 "Where a Reserve Garda is in regular employment, a service level agreement will be drawn up between An Garda Siochana and the employer in question. This will include an information pack for the employer from An Garda Siochana.").
Therefore, RDFRA requested - perhaps through legislative change - that the RDF be provided with some form of employment protection or employer interaction from the Defence Forces.
The committee were subsequently provided with the reasons for the currently low RDF membership numbers, and it was explained that this was not due to a lack of interest among members of the public with regard to joining the organisation, and was furthermore not due to an alleged high turnover - as were both suggested - but rather for several other issues of mismanagement that was beyond the control of the RDF.
The cost of the RDF was discussed, and it was explained that the current direct cost of the RDF is €1.3m per annum, down from €7.11m in 2006 (Ref. Table 24 Page 67, Value For Money Review of the Reserve Defence Forces, November 2012), proving that the RDF has been costing less and less to run each year, and is therefore not an economic drain in these difficult times.
One committee member was particularly concerned at how the RDF was being mismanaged - also with how the civilian employment and other commitments of reservists were not being taken into consideration when organising fitness tests, medicals, etc - and raised concerns that this showed a potential fracture in the Defence Forces between permanent and reserve personnel. This was a concern that the committee took very seriously.
However, the RDFRA delegation also noted that, while there were several issues of great concern to reservists at present, the Chief-of-Staff and the General Staff were to be applauded for supporting the RDF to date.
Finally, turning to the subject of possible Defence Forces-civilian employer relations, the RDFRA delegation referred to several international examples of employer consultative groups that exist as liaison organisations between the militaries of various nations and their reservists' civilian employers. These consultative groups inform civilian employers of the benefits to them of employing reservists.
The committee meeting can be viewed on Youtube here.
A transcript of RDFRA's previous submission to the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality can be found here: