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Almost 600 former Defence Forces personnel apply to re-enlist

Applications still being processed as commanders assess skill gaps

‘These returning personnel will assist in delivering Defence Forces supports in the Covid-19 response and beyond,’ Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe said. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Almost 600 former Defence Forces personnel have applied to rejoin the organisation since the launch of a re-enlistment programme a month ago to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

However, none of the re-enlistments have been completed as individual corps commanders are still assessing their staffing needs.

The new scheme was launched on April 1st following activating legislation passed by the Dáil.

The focus is on encouraging former non-commissioned members with specialist skills to re-enlist rather than a mass mobilisation of veterans.

The scheme allows for an initial re-enlistment for a minimum of three months and for up to three years.

Technicians, fitters, chefs, communications and IT specialists, and Naval staff are among the specialities in demand.

“These returning personnel will assist in delivering Defence Forces supports in the Covid-19 response and beyond,” Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe said.

As of last week, the Defence Forces had received 583 applications from former members seeking to rejoin. Of those, 492 were assessed as being eligible. Reasons for applications being rejected included that former personnel left the organisation more than 20 years ago.

A Defence Forces spokesman said the requests were still being processed but that this “shouldn’t take very long”.

All the eligible requests are being passed onto the commander of the corps where the applicant originally served, eg, infantry, medical, engineering, etc.

Skills gap

The corps commander will then assess what skill gaps exist and recommend which personnel should be asked to rejoin. A final decision on re-enlistments will be made by Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett.

The scheme applies to enlisted personnel only. Former officers can already sign up again under an existing scheme.

A portal for re-enlistment has been established on military.ie.

Those re-enlisting can join at the same rank at which they left but must meet the age, medical and physical fitness requirements for that rank.

The Defence Forces’ response to the current health crisis is primarily providing logistical and transport support to the HSE. Some members are also engaged in testing and contact tracing.