Former enlisted Defence Forces personnel to be allowed rejoin

Move comes as number of military personnel falls again despite €10m boost to allowances

The Government is to change legislation to allow enlisted military personnel who left the Defence Forces to rejoin.

A provision in the amended legislation would be used to enable suitably-qualified former enlisted members to return and fill key specialised positions.

The new legislation will also clarify that those aged under 18 cannot join the Defence Forces.

Figures released this week by the Minister of State for defence Paul Kehoe show that overall numbers in the Defence Forces are continuing to fall despite a €10million package of increased allowances being announced last summer to try to tackle recruitment and retention difficulties.

Mr Kehoe told the Dáil on Tuesday that as of November 30th, 605 personnel had been inducted into the Defence Forces and 10 serving soldiers were awarded a cadetship.

“ At that date, 793 personnel had exited the organisation. They further advised that, as at November 30th, 2019, the strength of the Permanent Defence Force whole-time equivalent across all services was 8,751 personnel.

“I am very much aware that there continues to be a shortfall between the current strength figures and those of the establishment and I remain committed to restoring the strength of the Defence Forces to 9,500. This will require improved retention and recruitment.”

Mr Kehoe said the Government had acknowledged that there were recruitment and retention issues in the Defence Forces that must be addressed.

“It is a fact that members of the Permanent Defence Force are being attracted to jobs elsewhere in a buoyant labour market,” he said.

"In light of the particular difficulties being faced by the defence sector, the Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of recruitment and retention issues in the Permanent Defence Force."

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent