Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (87)

Jack Chambers


87. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he will respond to the conclusion in the Public Service Pay Commission report that the Air Corps services are in jeopardy; his views on whether services are being compromised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30573/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

As provided in the White Paper on Defence (2015), the Air Corps provide a broad range of services in accordance with its primary security role and also undertakes a diverse range of non-security-related tasks on an ‘as available’ basis. I can assure the Deputy, that the Air Corps will continue to provide support and services on an 'as available' basis, having regard to available capabilities and its primary security responsibilities. I have also previously outlined particular challenges with vacancies in certain specialist posts in the Air Corps such as Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers and certain Technicians. These specialists can prove difficult to retain where, as in the current economic circumstances, there are on-going private sector and commercial semi-state sector job opportunities.

At its meeting held on the 4th July 2019, the Government accepted, in full, the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces. The Government also agreed an extensive implementation plan for the report.

The implementation plan is arranged around three broad themes of valuing members of the PDF, retaining the best people and attracting the best people. The plan, agreed by Government, sets out the actions to be taken and the timelines within which they will be taken, i.e. immediate, short term, medium term and long term. The implementation plan complements a range of actions that are already underway in the Department and the Defence Forces, to enhance recruitment and retention in the PDF.

In addition, the plan sets out an oversight process and my Department is putting in place the civil and military structures to support this.

The report of the Public Service Pay Commission is currently being considered by the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations and there will be further meetings in the coming weeks to clarify any matters arising.