Thursday, 8 October 2020

Ceisteanna (29)

Pádraig O'Sullivan


29. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Defence if consideration will be given to granting service contract extensions up to 50 years of age for privates and corporals providing they meet all fitness and medical requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28530/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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.

There is currently therefore, a moratorium on mandatory discharging of Privates and Corporals who have reached 21 years service and this moratorium also extends to post 1994 Sergeants, subject in all cases to their meeting certain criteria.

A review of service limits for enlisted personnel is currently being progressed in the context of a broader review provided for in the High Level Implementation Plan - "Strengthening Our Defence Forces". As this review which will encompass upper age limits for Privates, Corporals and Sergeants as well as senior NCOs is currently underway, it would be inappropriate to pre-empt any recommendations that may arise.