Belfast Telegraph

10m euro package to improve pay for Defence Forces

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he hopes the move will help retain members of the military and encourage others to join.

A 10m euro package has been announced to boost Defence Forces pay (Liam McBurney/PA)
A 10m euro package has been announced to boost Defence Forces pay (Liam McBurney/PA)

A 10 million euro package has been announced to improve pay for members of the Defence Forces.

The move comes after a report by the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces made a number of recommendations.

Among these were a 10% lift in the Military Service Allowance (MSA) and the restoration of 10 allowances, including the Patrol Duty Allowance, the Security Duty Allowance, the Army Ranger Wing Allowance and the Explosive Ordnance Allowance.

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Defence Forces soldiers on a training exercise (Niall Carson/PA)

Premium rates of certain allowances for duties performed at weekends are being renewed as well as the restoration of a 10% cut to the Overseas Peace Support Allowance and Overseas Armed Peace Support Allowance.

However Fianna Fail defence spokesman Jack Chambers claimed the report is “unlikely to be sufficient to stop the serious exodus of enlisted personnel”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the recommendations of the report are being accepted in full.

“The men and women of our Defence Forces serve this country with pride and distinction, ensuring the security of our state, protecting our democracy, asserting our sovereignty and participating in peacekeeping missions for the UN and the EU.

“They also provide essential aid to the civil power, including helping to deal with organised crime.”

This will make a career in the Army, the Naval Service or the Air Corps a more attractive and sustainable option Leo Varadkar

“The recommendations, which are being accepted in full by Government, will give Defence Force members more take-home pay and those with sought-after skills like pilots will be incentivised to stay on.

“This will make a career in the Army, the Naval Service or the Air Corps a more attractive and sustainable option.”

Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said the recommendations will be “quickly actioned”.

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Paul Kehoe inspects a guard of honour (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Among the recommendations in the report is the reversal of cuts to duty payments, which members of the Defence Forces receive in addition to basic pay and Military Service Allowance when undertaking different categories of duties,” he said.

“A 10% cut that was previously applied to a range of such duties is being reversed. This includes Patrol Duty Allowance, which members of the Naval Service are paid when at sea. A 10% increase in Patrol Duty Allowance equates to around 5 euro per day.

“The recommendations from the Public Service Pay Commission will build upon the increases in payscales for members of the Defence Forces over the past two years including the unwinding of FEMPI, the restoration of payscales and improved payscales for new entrants to the Defence Forces.

“There are no quick fixes to the current difficulties, which are also being experienced by other military organisations internationally. The achievement of strength and capability targets will take time.

“The recommendations in the report will now be discussed with the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations and increases in the allowances as recommend by the Commission will be implemented on confirmation of acceptance of the measures.

“A high-level implementation plan has been approved and work will commence on this immediately.”

Mr Chambers said the announcement will do “little or nothing” to stop people leaving the Defence Forces.

“There are now record numbers leaving our Defence Forces and it must be asked whether an increase to the Military Service Allowance of 0.96 cent per day before tax will do anything to entice a new entrant, private or soldier to remain,” he said.

“Today’s announcement will do little or nothing to reverse the dangerous trends in recruitment and retention. It will take great efforts to undo the damage caused by the department’s 92 million euro underspend between 2014 and 2018.

“Adequately paying and respecting Ireland’s loyal Defence Forces personnel is neither irresponsible nor fiscally reckless. They are people who regularly put their lives on the line to protect their country and to uphold peace overseas.

“The least the state can do in return is to show them that we value their commitment and hard work by paying them appropriately.”

PA

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