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PDFORRA the representative group of the Defence Forces, has called for automatic citizenship to be given to non-nationals who have completed five years' service in the Army, the Naval Service or the Air Corps and who have attained a conduct rating of good during that time.

Gerard Guinan, General Secretary of PDFORRA (Permanent Defence Force Other Rank) said non-nationals who were serving the State were having to spend thousands of euro in a protracted process to become Irish citizens.

According to figures supplied to PDFORRA by the Defence Forces, more than 200 non-nationals have successfully applied to become members of the Army, the Naval Service and the Air Corps over the past five years.

Membership of the Defence Forces is open to people who are not Irish citizens, but who are from other EU member states, along with Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Membership is also open to people who have been granted refugee status in Ireland.

More from RTE News here. 

Published in Navy

At the ferryport of Rosslare Europort and tucked away at the rear of the terminal building are two large green tents, flanked by several defence forces SUVs, reports New Ross Standard.

The newly erected 'holding area' is evidence of the new quarantine system which came into play at all entrance points to Ireland on Friday - including the Wexford port.

Under the new rules, anyone arriving into Ireland from a list of 33 'high-risk' countries will be legally required to undertake a mandatory two-week quarantine at one of four Dublin hotels costing a minimum of €1,875. While it was reported that the old Hotel Rosslare had been looked at as a possible quarantine facility, this has not come to pass and anyone arriving at Rosslare who is required to quarantine will be brought to the capital.

Although Rosslare is unlikely to see too many people who have passed through the 33 countries, most of which are in South America and Africa, new rules also state that passengers arriving into the country without a negative PCR test taken a maximum of 72 hours before arrival, will be forced to wait in mandatory quarantine until they return a negative test.

This means that any passengers arriving in Rosslare, excluding truck drivers and crew, from France, Spain or the UK will be legally required to present a negative Covid test. If they don't, they'll be brought to the 'holding area' tents at the rear of the terminal building, where they will be tested before the defence forces bus them out to a mandatory quarantine facility in Dublin where they will pay at least €150 per day until a clear test is returned.

Further reading on the story here. 

Published in Rosslare Europort

The role of Ireland in overseas peacekeeping missions could well be enhanced when Defence Forces numbers are back up to the minimum establishment strength of 9,500.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has revealed he's in favour of the Naval Service mounting further overseas missions such as joining an anti-piracy task force off the Horn of Africa, or on migrant rescue operations like previous ones carried out in the Mediterranean Sea.

He revealed that in 2015 plans were being drawn up to send a navy ship to the waters off the Horn of Africa to thwart raids on international commercial shipping by Somali pirates.

Mr Coveney said deployment was being looked at when the migrant crisis started to unfold off the coast of Libya.

More on this story writes Irish Examiner here which previously on Sunday reported the manpower crisis in the Naval Service which could see two more ships tied up by the end of the year.

Afloat adds that if that scenario arose the number of operational patrol vessels in the naval fleet would be reduced by almost half, from a total of 9 down to four ships. So far the flagship HPV LÉ Eithne along with CPV LÉ Orla has been tied up since last year at the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island, Cork Harbour.

During the height of the Covid-19 crisis, the flagship was temporarily drafted back into service to assist the HSE when berthed at Cork City.  

Published in Navy

The representative body of Irish Defence Forces Officer grades has warned that if immediate, significant retention initiatives are not implemented, the forces will not only never return to its target strength of 9,500, but will continue to decline.

As RTE reports, the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) issued the warning in a briefing document for Oireachtas members.

RACO focuses on the staff recruitment and retention crisis in the Defence Forces, noting that despite Government commitments to boost numbers, they have fallen to an all-time low of 8,485 due to an "unsustainably high" staff turnover rate of 10.5% last year.

At the end of April, the Army had 6,867 members, the Naval Service had 892, while the Air Corps had 726.

In 2019, 870 Defence Forces members left the service, while 605 joined - a net loss of 265.

There are currently 1,015 vacancies, up from 327 at the end of 2017

In addition RACO highlights the impact of Covid-19 restrictions which will exasperate matters and more can be read here

Published in Navy

Ministers reports The Irish Examiner, have described comments by President Michael D Higgins that members of the Defence Forces should have sufficient incomes as “deeply unhelpful”.

Mr Higgins’s comments on Wednesday night caused widespread surprise, anger, and bemusement in Government circles yesterday over what was seen as “interference” in political matters.

As Fine Gael ministers, TDs, senators, and MEPs gathered in Garryvoe, east Cork, for their party’s think-in ahead of the Dáil’s return, Mr Higgins’s comments were widely commented upon.

“Of course they were deeply unhelpful,” one senior minister said. “We are trying to hold a public pay deal together with sticky tape and Blu-Tack. This will only heighten the pressure on us to loosen the purse strings even further.”

Speaking publicly, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed hit a most undiplomatic tone, saying he found the President’s decision to comment “quite unusual”.

The newspaper has more here on this ongoing issue. 

Published in Navy

In an announced from the Government an action plan to deliver a €10 million package to restore pay to members of the Defence Forces.

As RTE reports, the Government said the package will immediately improve the take-home pay of members of the Defence Forces.

Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said work on the high-level plan to implement the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission would begin immediately.

He said the Government was committed to making steady improvements in pay to public servants but only to the extent that they are affordable and sustainable.

Minister of State with responsibility for the Defence Forces Paul Kehoe said the package was recognition by the Government of the challenges of recruitment and retention within the army, navy and air corps.

For more from the launch by the Minister of the new package click this link

Published in Navy

It is expected that the Government will announce a new review of pay for up to 2,500 members of the Defence Forces with specialist or technical skills.

The move, writes The Irish Times, will be in addition to the proposed increase in allowances which the Government is set to announce this week as part of an initiative to address recruitment and retention problems in the military.

Ministers are expected to say that the review of military specialists’ pay could be completed within months.

Among those likely to be encompassed by such a review would be cooks, mechanics, technicians, fitters, carpenters, aircraft mechanics, military police investigators and air-traffic controllers.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is to bring proposals to the Cabinet for pay improvements for members of the Defence Forces based on the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission.

The Government is expected to announce a new review of pay for up to 2,500 members of the Defence Forces with specialist or technical skills.

The move will be in addition to the proposed increase in allowances which the Government is set to announce this week as part of an initiative to address recruitment and retention problems in the military.

Ministers are expected to say that the review of military specialists’ pay could be completed within months.

Among those likely to be encompassed by such a review would be cooks, mechanics, technicians, fitters, carpenters, aircraft mechanics, military police investigators and air-traffic controllers.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is to bring proposals to the Cabinet for pay improvements for members of the Defence Forces based on the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission.

The €10.1 million package of measures will centre on increases in allowances paid to members of the Defence Forces rather than rises in core pay.

Military service allowances, which currently range from €42 to €123 per week, would be raised by 10 per cent as part of a move to improve recruitment and retention of personnel under consideration by the Government.

Reductions in other allowances imposed in 2013 are also expected to be reversed as part of the package.

The patrol duty allowance of €48 per day for Naval Service personnel at sea would also be increased by about €5 under the proposals.

In addition, a loyalty bonus – which could be up to €19,000 – is expected to be put in place to encourage pilots to remain in the Defence Forces.

If approved by the Government, the increased allowances would come into effect immediately.

For more on the story including non-pay initiatives click here. 

In addition as previously featured Naval Patrol vessels including flagship LE. Eithne to be docked out of service due to staff shortage. 

Published in Navy

The Defence Forces are currently conducting surface live firing practice shoots off West Cork, as per Marine Notice No 12 of 2019.

The practice shoots from today, Tuesday 28 May, to Thursday 30 May are taking place in Danger Area D13, in the coastal area south-south-west of Cork between Seven Heads and Galley Head and to seaward from 8am to 5pm daily.

The Danger Area comprises the sea area contained within the co-ordinates. The co-ordinates of area D13 are as follows:

LatitudeLongitude
51° 34.12’N 008°42.36’W
51°20.12’N 008°34.36’W
51°17.36’N 008°48.48’W
51°31.42’N 008°57.06’W

For the periods while the range is active, this sea area is out of bounds to all vessels. A Naval Service patrol vessel will enforce the Danger Area D13.

All vessels are advised that they are required to remain outside of the exclusion zone whilst the range is active, and are also recommended to carefully monitor the Radio Navigation Warnings that will be broadcast during the firing period.

Published in Marine Warning

#navy - Irish Government must address the crisis in the Defence Forces which has now reached the point where its effectiveness is so broken that it can no longer guarantee the security of the State and its citizens, a protest march by former members of the Defence Forces has heard.

Almost 1,500 former members of the Defence Forces, writes The Irish Times, from the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service marched in the second Respect and Loyalty Parade through Cork city to highlight poor pay and conditions.

Parade organisers said 166 personnel left the Defence Forces in the first three months of 2019, while a high-profile recruitment campaign last year led to a net gain of just three and the overall number in the Defence Forces now stands at around 8,500, 1,000 less than the recommended minimum number of 9,500.

Retired Lt Col Dan Harvey addressed a rally in the Grand Parade, saying that it was a sad day when retired members of the Defence Forces felt they had to march to highlight the situation in which their currently serving comrades find themselves.

For further comments made by the retired colonel and more click here.

Published in Navy

#navy - The Irish Times writes that it is the breaking down of barriers which is central to what Mark Mellett sees as his role as Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.

The obstacles are within the Defence Forces itself and between them and the outside world.

He believes that the way to penetrate these resistant mindsets is through strategic and mutually beneficial engagement with academe and the private sector, on the one hand, and also by the Defence Forces participating – in keeping with government-determined policy – in military initiatives further afield.

Having risen through the ranks of the Naval Service to senior command and taken part in several high-profile operations (including recovery work in the wake of the Whiddy Island oil ship explosion disaster and Air India jet crash off the west coast), Vice-Admiral Mellett, who has a doctorate in political science, began to think more than a decade ago about leadership on a larger playing field.

To read more comments from the Chief of Staff click here.

Published in Navy
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

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