As the Deputy will be aware, the report to the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces was published on 4 July 2019. The report was accepted in full by the Government at the time. To facilitate implementation, a high-level plan entitled Strengthening our Defence Forces – Phase One was also agreed and published on the same date.
The high-level plan provided for actions or projects to be undertaken to deliver on the Public Service Pay Commission recommendations. It also proposed a timeframe for actions or projects to commence and identified the lead actor to implement the action or project. The timeframe for commencement of the actions is split into four distinct timelines.
The project to consider options to tackle barriers to extended participation in the Permanent Defence Force was identified as a medium-term project being jointly led by the Department and the Defence Forces together. After initial research, it was decided that this project would be divided into two phases, the first focusing on reviewing mandatory retirement ages for officers and the second to review contracts for service for enlisted personnel.
It was agreed at PDFORRA that enlisted privates and corporals who had reached 21 years' service and were under-50 could remain in service until the end of 2022. Sergeants who were due to retire were also permitted to continue to serve until that timeframe. These measures meant that the review could take place in an extended timeframe.
A report on the first phase of this project on reviewing mandatory retirement age for officers was completed by the joint civil-military project team and is currently with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform awaiting clarification on a number of issues, which I understand are primarily with regard to pension entitlements. Work on the second phase of examining contracts of service for enlisted personnel is under way and progressing well.
Any proposals or decisions that arise from these considerations relating to the mandatory retirement ages will be discussed with the representative associations, of course. My Department continues to engage with the associations on all matters that fall within the scope of the representation, not just those arising from the high-level implementation plan. A draft piece of work is with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform at the moment and we are hoping to get approval and clarification on a number of issues.