Thursday, 7 March 2019

Ceisteanna (64, 65)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

64. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will report on the scheme to recommission former officers of the Air Corps. [11312/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

65. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the structures in place within the Air Corps with regard to the relative promotional prospects of officers with continued service and recommissioned officers following the recent scheme intended to attract former officers. [11313/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 65 together.

As one of a range of measures to address the current shortage of pilots in the Air Corps, the General Staff and GOC Air Corps recommended the initiation of a scheme to recommission former Air Corps officers.  There is also scope to recommission officers in other specialist streams across the Defence Forces, if shortages exist.

There have been instances in the past where former officers have returned to the Defence Forces.  In the absence of a standard policy for dealing with such requests, each case was dealt with on an individual basis and governed by the rules, regulations and circumstances that applied at the time. 

The processing of such applications in the past, in the absence of a defined policy framework, has posed a number of difficulties. This included defining procedures, identifying the requirements and needs of the organisation and agreeing terms and conditions with the individual. In order to allow for a transparent scheme to facilitate the re-entry of former Officers of the PDF, a policy framework, setting out terms and conditions was necessary.

The terms and conditions for the recommissioning scheme include the provision that the re-commissioning of former officers of the PDF, including in the Air Corps, shall only be considered in specific circumstances. These are where the Chief of Staff has identified a deficiency in personnel, military capability or expertise in the PDF, that cannot be resolved in a sustainable or timely manner from within existing personnel resources. These terms and conditions apply to all former Officers of the Permanent Defence Force and not just to the Air Corps.

Recommissioned officers will be offered a short service commission for a period of 3 years and in that period they cannot compete for promotion, nor will they block a promotion opportunity for existing Officers. The recommissioned Officers may only be offered a substantive appointment after 3 years on the advice of the Chief of Staff and Secretary General.

This provides a fair and balanced approach to both the former officer and existing members. It is not realistic to suggest that vacancies should be maintained indefinitely for the purpose of ensuring promotions for existing members.

I am pleased to say that two former officers of the Air Corps have applied to re-join the Air Corps. Their applications are currently being progressed by the military authorities.