Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (348)

Robert Troy

Question:

348. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Defence his plans to increase the compulsory Army retirement age to 60 given the current drive to re-enlist retired servicemen and women. [8324/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Military life places unique demands on individuals and it is necessary that Defence Forces personnel are prepared to meet the challenges of all military operations. To this end, it is vital the age and health profile of personnel be such as to ensure that operational capability and effectiveness are not compromised in any way.

The age and fitness profile of the Permanent Defence Force was an issue of serious concern during the 1990's and was the subject of severe criticism in a series of external reports. One of the key areas identified for urgent action was the development of a manpower policy with an emphasis on lowering the age profile of Permanent Defence Force personnel.

As a result, new terms and conditions were introduced for personnel enlisting after 1 January 1994 and new contracts for enlisted personnel were for a period of five years’ service. Since that time, the maximum period of service has been extended out to twenty-one years for line Privates and Corporals.

In 2015, following an adjudication in the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for PDF members, Privates and Corporals in receipt of Tech Pay Group 3 or higher may be extended to age 50 subject to meeting certain criteria for continuance in service. A review of contracts of service for Line Corporals and Privates and Corporals in receipt of Technical Pay 1 and 2 was recommended.

An agreement was subsequently reached with PDFORRA in 2019 that all Privates and Corporals recruited post 1994, be allowed to continue in service to 31 December 2022 (or until they reach the age of 50), provided these personnel met certain criteria during the interim period, including medical grades and fitness tests. This agreement was subsequently extended to include post 1994 Sergeants, who also could continue in service to the same date, subject to their meeting agreed criteria in the interim period.

The High Level Plan- "Strengthening Our Defence Forces " provides for actions or projects to be undertaken to deliver on the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) recommendations. A project to consider options to tackle barriers to extended participation in the PDF (including the possibility of extending retirement ages for members of the PDF) is underway.

This project is divided into two phases. The first phase, focusing on reviewing mandatory retirement ages for Officers and the second phase to review contracts of service for enlisted personnel.

As this review is currently underway, it would be inappropriate to pre-empt any recommendations that may arise.

Under the terms and conditions of the scheme to re-enlist former PDF personnel introduced last April, individuals who wish to re-enlist will serve for a specific period and for a specific purpose which will involve the use of a particular skill or area of expertise which cannot currently be met through the use of existing military resources. Individuals will be required to be able to serve the duration of their contract within the age limits currently set, and additionally meet a range of general eligibility criteria including medical assessments to ensure they are capable of performing normal military duties.