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Defence | Increasing the strength of all branches of the Defence Forces

To ask the Minister for Defence the current position in regard to increasing the strength of all branches of the Defence Forces without exception; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I have previously acknowledged the ongoing staffing challenges in the Defence Forces.  A number of initiatives are presently being implemented to tackle these challenges.  

In respect of recruitment, there is ongoing general service and direct entry recruitment. The scope and terms and conditions of the direct entry competitions remains under consideration.  As of 31 May 2022, 110 personnel have been inducted.  104 of those inducted were General Service Recruits comprised of 98 Army personnel and 6 Naval Service personnel.  The Air Corps does not recruit General Service recruits directly but transfers such recruits from the Army.  

Retention measures implemented include service commitment schemes in the Air Corps and Naval Service, and the sea-going naval personnel tax credit. Pay has improved as a result of increases arising from the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) report and from recent pay agreements.  Other, non-pay, PSPC recommendations have also been progressed through a series of projects. 

Furthermore, consideration of the recommendations of the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces is ongoing. I intend to revert shortly to Government with a proposed response to those recommendations and a high-level action plan, which will set out proposed timelines and oversight arrangements for its implementation

In the interim, efforts will remain focused on restoring all Branches of the Defence Forces to the current agreed strength, facilitated by ongoing staffing initiatives 



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