Government to propose new pay review for Defence Force specialists

Ministers to consider plans for increases in allowances for up to 2,500 staff

The Government is expected to announce a new review of pay for up to 2,500 members of the Defence Forces with specialist or technical skills.

The move will be in addition to the proposed increase in allowances which the Government is set to announce this week as part of an initiative to address recruitment and retention problems in the military.

Ministers are expected to say that the review of military specialists’ pay could be completed within months.

Among those likely to be encompassed by such a review would be cooks, mechanics, technicians, fitters, carpenters, aircraft mechanics, military police investigators and air-traffic controllers.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is to bring proposals to the Cabinet for pay improvements for members of the Defence Forces based on the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission.

The €10.1 million package of measures will centre on increases in allowances paid to members of the Defence Forces rather than rises in core pay.

Military service allowances, which currently range from €42 to €123 per week, would be raised by 10 per cent as part of a move to improve recruitment and retention of personnel under consideration by the Government.

Reductions in other allowances imposed in 2013 are also expected to be reversed as part of the package.

The patrol duty allowance of €48 per day for Naval Service personnel at sea would also be increased by about €5 under the proposals.

In addition, a loyalty bonus – which could be up to €19,000 – is expected to be put in place to encourage pilots to remain in the Defence Forces.

If approved by the Government, the increased allowances would come into effect immediately.

Non-pay initiatives

The Government is also expected to announce a series of non-pay initiatives for the Defence Forces, including an action plan to cover areas such as career development, workforce planning and family/work balance measures.

Informed sources said military organisations may be permitted to hold talks with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions regarding some form of partial affiliation with the trade union movement. However, sources said the Government would not grant Defence Forces members the right to go on strike.

Numbers in the Defence Forces have continued to fall despite recent recruitment campaigns. The full strength of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps combined should be a minimum of 9,500 personnel, but has now fallen below 8,500. This is the lowest point since numbers increased in the 1970s in response to the Troubles.