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Ministry of Defence: Royal Irish (Home Service)

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 December 2006

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

When I announced the settlement package for the Royal Irish (Home Service) on 9 March this year, I advised the House that a bespoke Royal Irish aftercare package would be provided to support former members of the UDR and the Royal Irish (Home Service) as well as their dependants.

I can announce today that we plan to maintain a publicly funded Royal Irish (Home Service) welfare organisation and, subject to trades union consultation on civilian staff appointments, will be recruiting the necessary personnel as soon as possible. The organisation will provide the vital interface needed between the regimental headquarters, ex-service personnel, their widows and their families.

We recognise that the disbandment of the Royal Irish (Home Service) and the Civil Service redundancy programme associated with security normalisation will result in particular challenges for ex-Home Service personnel: this was fully recognised in the settlement package announced earlier this year. Full-time soldiers of the Royal Irish (Home Service) leaving as a result of disbandment will be eligible for the normal tri-service resettlement package (seven weeks’ graduated resettlement training time, £534 towards costs), and fully funded access to the MoD's Career Transition Partnership (CTP) service for two years after discharge. Extended access to the CTP for a further five-year period is available through the Regular Forces Employment Association or Officers Association in cases of greater need.

In addition to these provisions, members of the Royal Irish (Home Service) discharged after 1 August 2005 will be eligible for a grant to fund further resettlement training. The Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland has also agreed exceptionally to waive the qualification period of six months for entry to the “New Deal” programme for the Royal Irish (Home Service). This will allow immediate access to government-funded employment support. We will also be making additional provision for mental health and physical therapies to meet the particular needs of ex-Royal Irish (Home Service) and UDR personnel. Furthermore, we will be discussing with the trustees of the Royal Irish Benevolent Fund the need for some public support for the fund to take account of the disbandment of the Home Service element.

This package, worth in the region of £2 million a year, reflects our commitment to treat the Home Service with fairness and dignity. We intend to ensure that it is kept under review to guarantee that it continues to meet the needs of ex-UDR and Royal Irish (Home Service) men and women, and their dependants, both as we move through this difficult period of change and in the longer term.