The Department of Defence comprises the private office of the Minister, the Minister of State, Secretary General and 16 civil branches together with the Army Pensions Board.
The Private Office of the Minister provides a link between the Department, the military authorities and the Minister. It provides advice and assistance in relation to the ministerial functions. It deals with correspondence, parliamentary business and enquiries as well as organising the Minister’s diary and public engagements.
The Litigation Branch is responsible for the effective management of claims arising from accidents and injuries to members of the Defence Force, civilian employees and civilians involved in road accidents with military vehicles. It is also involved in administrative law/judicial review cases.
The State Claims Agency established under The National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2000 has delegated the responsibility for handling most claims against the Minister of Defence. New hearing loss claims were transferred to the Agency in 2005.
The Contracts Branch is responsible for ensuring the Forces are properly equipped and provides procurement function and disposes off obsolete equipment. In recent years there has been significant delegation of financial responsibility to the Defence Forces itself so that it procures significant amounts of its own goods and services directly.
The Defence Forces Conciliation and Arbitration Branch administers the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme established in 1993. The schemes are operated with various associations established in 1993 including Representative Association for Commissioned Officers and the Permanent Defence Force Ranks Representative Association. The Branch deals with the Reserve Defence Force Representative Association and the Irish Nurses Organisation. The Branch also provide services to those organisations.
The Defence Force Personnel Policy Branch deals with redresses of wrong including appeals to the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces or to the Minister arising from redress of wrongs processes. The Commission processes appeals referred by the Minister to the Complaints Inquiry Office. It deals with administrative matters relating to the Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces and Complaints Inquiry Offices.
The Defence Forces Personnel Policy Section is responsible for review and development of personnel issues, participation in inter-departmental policy groups, Free Legal Aid claims, payments in relation to military law cases, administration of non-delegated Defence Forces personnel processes, including Appointments and Commissions, Retirements, High Rank RDF Promotions, Service Undertakings and Air Corps Service Commitment Scheme, Defence Forces Canteen Boards, policy issues on military medals and preparation of memos for government.
The Legislation Branch is responsible for processing the Department’s legislation and amendments, simplifying, amending and consolidating Defence Force Regulations and coordinating the Department’s response to EU legislation.
The Executive Branch has two units. The Security and Community Support Unit is responsible for domestic security including the provision of aid to the civil power generally and during major emergencies; dealing with requests for community for community events such as displays, loan of equipment, ceremonial duties on particular occasions and matters relating to the Irish Red Cross Society.
The Aviation and Maritime Unit has policy and administration functions in relation to the Air Corps and Naval Service aid to the civil power; Air Corps involvement in air ambulance services, provision of the ministerial air transport, provision of policy advice to the Civil Defence Board, naval service operations, involvement in maritime security, protection and control, monitoring of fishery protection, requests for Air Corps fly-pasts at community events, Air Corps attendance at domestic and foreign shows and the Army Equitation School.
The Finance Branch and Internal Audit Support has a staff of over 140. It deals with pensions, payroll and accounts/payments. The Pensions area is responsible for the payment and granting of pensions and gratuities to retired members and their dependants, as well as survivors and spouses. It administers the pension and disability pension codes.
The Pensions Administration Section is responsible for gratuities and pensions including disability pensions to retired members of the Permanent Defence Force. It administers the Defence Force’s Pension Acts 1932 to 1975, Army Pensions Act 1923 to 1980 and the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004. The minimum age for retirement is 50.
The Pension Payments Section deals with payments of pensions, disability pensions and allowances to some 11,000 ex-service personnel. The Pensions Policy Section is responsible for the formulation, review of pension’s policy, legislation and schemes.
The Internal Audit Section provides independent assurance of management information both for civil and military management.
The Human Resources Branch deals with personnel administration and human resource matters for the Department’s civil servants.
The Civilian Employee Staff Administration Section is responsible for personnel and human resources for the Department’s almost 1,000 civilian employees.
The Facility Management Section provides services in relation to data protection, accommodation, records management and the Central Registry/Library. Central Registry operates on the basis of instructions from the Branches to open or store files or order stationery, printing services and other supplies.
The Training and Development Unit provides training and development services to the Department’s civil service management and staff, in accordance with the Department’s Strategy Statement and Human Resources Strategy. It provides in-house training or may retain external service providers.
The Press & Information Unit manages relationships with the media on matters relating to defence. It deals with inquiries from members of the public.
The Information and Communication Technologies Branch in conjunction with the military Directorate of Communications and Information Systems, provides services to the Department in relation to IT, planning and development, telecommunications and maintenance of information. The Information Technology Unit based in Galway is responsible for supporting the Finance Branch including in particular payroll and working in conjunction with the Dublin Unit.
The International Security and Defence Policy Branch formulates and develops the Department of Defence’s Inputs into European Security and Defence Policy, policy in relation UN Peace Keeping OSCE and NATO’s Partnership for Peace. It manages the implementation of Ireland’s Individual Partnership Program (IPP) for participation in the Partnership for Peace. It has functions in relation to the service by members of the Defence Force overseas with the international organisations including the UN, EU, NATO.
The Office of Emergency Planning was established in 2001 to take a leading role in emergency planning to deal with potential terrorist threats. It promotes coordination across all Departments and authorities in emergency planning. It provides a support role to the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning and, coordinates the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Emergency Planning.
The Planning and Organisation Branch supports the modernisation of the Defence Forces and insists senior management on modernisation agenda. This is set out in the White Paper on Defence, and the Department’s Strategy Statement.
This Unit provides a range of services to senior management including preparation of Strategy Statements, Reports, Output Statements and sponsoring Quality Customer Service initiative, supporting organisational and human resource modernisation and the coordination of Value for Money Reviews.
The Property Management Branch is responsible for the property held by the Department including 23 military installations and considerable land. It leases and purchases property, arranges for the disposal of surplus property and letting of lands not immediately required.
The Army Pension Board was established under the Army Pensions Act, consists of a Chairman and two ordinary members who are medical doctors. One must be an officer of the Army Medical Corps and the other a civilian doctor.
They investigate claims for pensions, allowances and gratuities and report to and advise the Minister. The Department of Defence is incorporated under the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924. It is at present under a single Minister for Justice and Defence.
The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces was set up under the Ombudsman Defence Forces Act 2004. The Council of Defence was set up under the Ministers and Secretaries Act and reaffirmed under the Defence Act 1954.
The Military Services Registration Board was established in 1933 and abolished in 1982. The Civil Defence Board was established in 2003. It reincorporated structures existing under earlier legilsation.