Labour Defence spokesperson, Brendan Ryan TD has said that the Government must take seriously the warnings from RACO and others about the future viability of the Defence Forces as overall numbers fall below 8,500; and ask the Public Service Pay Commission to expedite its review of recruitment and retention issues in the PDF.
Deputy Ryan said:
“The latest warning about retention of skills and personnel in the Defence Forces from the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) is a further wake up call for the Government about the future viability of the Defence Forces. Both RACO and PDFORRA have called it a crisis.
“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Defence must take seriously the plummeting numbers and the need to address the problems of recruitment and retention. It requires a swift response, and they should request that the Public Service Pay Commission bring forward its review of pay and allowances as significant material was provided from the Department in December 2018, and a survey of personnel has been underway in February and into March. The longer this goes on, the more talent that will be lost.
“A report last week showed that numbers had fallen below 8,500 when there is meant to be a minimum of 9,500 serving personnel. This is the lowest since the 1970’s when numbers were increased following the outbreak of the Troubles.
“The reality is that pay and conditions in the Defence Forces have not kept up with what is now available in the private sector, and the State is now losing out as specialist skills we have heavily invested in are sought out by other employers. A survey of Officers show 79% are planning to leave which should be of huge concern to the Minister.
“This problem is recognised right at the top, with the Head of Defence Forces having made his own verbal submission to the Public Sector Pay Commission because of the challenges the military pay issue is causing.”