I thought the Acting Chairman would be a little more lenient than the Ceann Comhairle or the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, particularly on this morning which seems as if we are in the sunny south east.
The military authorities have advised that there is no issue with regard to filling command positions for a rotation of troops attached to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. The 114th Infantry Battalion is due to replace the 113th Infantry Battalion in the area of operations shortly and, with the exception of one junior officer post appointment, which recently became vacant due to unforeseen circumstances, all officer command positions are now filled. A process is under way to fill the junior officer appointment and this is expected to conclude shortly.
As the Deputy has pointed out, the overarching turnover of personnel in the Permanent Defence Force was 8.1% in 2018. This rate must be viewed against an overall average departure rate of 6.3% since 2002 with a peak rate of 8.58% in 2012.
Of the 731 personnel who exited the Defence Forces during 2018, the military authorities have advised that 139, or 19%, did so before completing their initial training. The number of trainees within the overarching turnover figure can be significant and in 2017, 742 personnel departed of whom 209, or 28%, were trainees.
A total of 592 trained personnel departed during 2018 and 533 trained personnel departed in 2017. The long-run average is 500. However, the number of trained personnel departing can fluctuate significantly year on year and in recent years, this has ranged from a high of 677 in 2012 to a low of 356 in 2014.
The issue of turnover in an organisation with the unique structures, functional areas and particular skill sets of the Defence Forces is complex. As the rate of turnover can differ across functional areas, the impact of turnover can vary accordingly. Headline turnover figures do not reflect this complexity.