Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is to reduce the size of the Reserve Defence Force and cut its funding by 50%.

Mr Shatter is to end the practice of stand alone reserve units, and introduce instead a "single force concept" of a Permanent Defence Force with reserve components.

This restructuring will result in the closure of 32 reserve facilities which are currently located outside of existing barracks. 16 reserve facilities will be retained.

The remaining reserve units will be accomodated in Permanent Defence Forces barracks.

The measures, which Mr Shatter announced this evening, are recommendations contained in a Value for Money review of the Reserve Defence Force, undertaken by an independently chaired Steering Committee of the Department of Defence, the Defence Force, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Currently the Reserve Defence Force allows for 9,652 members, and comprises the First Line Reserves, the Naval Service Reserves, and the Army Reserves (formerly known as the FCA).

The restructuring will halve the amount the State spends on the Reserve Defence Force - from €22m this year, to €11m next year.

However, the new restructured reserve component of the force will be capped at 4,000 personnel - 3,800 Army Reserves and 200 Naval Service reserves.

Although the reserve force is designed to have 9,652 individuals, numbers in recent years have fallen significantly and currently there are 4,554 personnel.

This number must now be reduced to 4,069 which the Minister said will be achieved by natural wastage.

The number of Permanent Defence Force personnel who work full-time with the reserves will be reduced from the current 261 to 57.

The measures also recommend that further cost-savings be achieved by using reserves to carry out unpaid duties to assist members of the permanent defence forces. However these unpaid duties will not include armed operations.

The system of training reserves will also be changed from the existing combination of some paid training days mixed with unpaid days with a gratuity payment - to a system of fully paid training days.