Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - NCO Promotions.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

6 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Defence the numbers of NCOs who have been commissioned as officers in each of the past five years; if he has any plans to increase the numbers of officers coming through the ranks, especially in view of the recommendations of the Gleeson report in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Twenty-four NCO's were appointed officers in June 1992 following completion of the seventh potential officers' course. In 1991, one NCO in the Ordnance Corps was appointed a technical officer in that corps. The question of holding further potential officers' courses is being kept under review in the light of the total strength of officers serving in the Permanent Defence Forces.

The promotion of even one NCO in the Ordnance Corps is a tiny breakthrough. Will the Minister indicate the number of NCOs serving in the Defence Forces with the potential to complete the courses to which he referred? Does he not agree that the promotion of NCOs would help to change the age profile of the armed forces which is, on average, rather high?

I agree that the promotion in 1991 of one NCO was a tiny breakthrough to the higher ranks for NCOs. Twenty four NCOs were appointed officers in 1992 following the completion of the potential officers' course. The total number of NCOs promoted for those two years was 25. As I said in the latter part of my reply, the question of holding these courses is kept under constant review. These courses are not held if no need is seen for extra officers. I do not have to hand the specific number of NCOs in the force at present.

On what basis were individuals selected to go on the NCO training course for potential officers?

Candidates applying to undergo the potential officer's course had to fulfil a number of requirements: (1) they had to be between 25 and 33 years of age on 1 April 1991; (2) they had to have a minimum educational qualification of grade D in at least five subjects in the leaving certificate or equivalent examination; (3) have at least six years' service in the PDF; (4) be medically graded not lower than A 3; and (5) have attained the rank of corporal, leading seaman or higher at the time of application.

Sixty eight NCOs applied for the course and 43 were called for the final interview.