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Defence | Army conditions

To ask the Minister for Defence the degree to which Army pay, conditions, and strength of the army is in progress or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Deputy may be aware that a range of actions have been taken to address pay and conditions of staff in the Defence Forces, and the recent Report of the Commission on Defence Forces also makes a range of recommendations in this area. The Report proposes significant changes, including to the level of Defence provision in Ireland and recommendations in relation to capacity components required to achieve that provision.  This includes, inter alia, consideration of morale, recruitment and retention matters.  The Government’s High-Level Action Plan (HLAP), launched in July, set out proposed timelines and oversight arrangements for its implementation, and identifies a number of pay-related recommendations for progression, including the intention to progress implementation of the following:

  • Removing the requirement for a 3 Star Private/Able Seaman to ‘mark time’ for the first three years at that rank;
  • Ensuring that all personnel of Private 3 Star/Able Seaman rank are paid the full rate of MSA applicable to the rank;
  • Providing immediate access to the Sea-going Service Commitment Scheme to direct entry personnel in the Navy.

I am pleased to announce that following consultation with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department can now proceed to implement the first two early actions, the removal of Marked Time and the payment of the full rate of MSA. This will result in the pay rates for Private 3 Star/Able Seaman in their first three years of service starting at €34,798 in Year 1, €36,128 in Year 2, and €37,353 in Year 3.

A number of other remunerative elements have been prioritised in the HLAP, including a commitment to commence further evaluation of:

  • Replacing the existing sea-going allowances with less complex sea-going duty measures;
  • Introducing Long Service Increments to the pay scales of all ranks of enlisted personnel;
  • On the basis that all personnel should, in the first instance, be paid the full rate of MSA applicable to their rank, MSA should be abolished and the full applicable rate integrated into core pay.

The HLAP also states a commitment to commence examination of options in relation to a mechanism for review of existing specialist pay rates and allowances. A review will also commence of existing sea-going allowances to consider their replacement with less complex measures.

Separately, and specifically in terms of pay scales, the Defence Forces are paid increases in pay and allowances in line with Public Service pay agreements.

The Deputy may be aware that the current pay agreement, Building Momentum, provides for the following increases in 2022, namely:

  • The equivalent of a 1% increase in annualised basic salaries to be used as a Sectoral Bargaining Fund, in accordance with Chapter 2 of the Agreement, on 1 February 2022 last.
  • A general round increase in annualised basic salaries for all public servants of 1% or €500, whichever is greater, on 1 October 2022. Fixed periodic pensionable allowances and allowances in the nature of pay also increased by 1% on this date.        

The recently agreed, but yet to be balloted on, extension to this Building Momentum agreement,  provides for further increases in pay and allowances to all public servants, including members of the Defence Forces, under this pay deal. This extension provides for a 6.5 % increase, in addition to existing Building Momentum arrangements, as follows:

  • 3%, backdated to 2nd Feb 2022
  • 2 % on 1st March 2023
  • 1.5% or €750, whichever is the greater, on 1st October 2023.

Pensionable allowances in the nature of pay will also benefit.

In addition to general round pay increases arising out of ongoing national pay agreements, members of the Permanent Defence Forces have also benefitted from the implementation of increases in Defence Forces allowances, as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission in 2019.

It is also important to note that for those Defence Force personnel who have specialist appointments, based on training or qualifications, there are a range additional allowances available to them.

All of these measures will have a further positive impact on the pay and conditions of Defence Forces personnel.

In terms of the Defence Forces strength, As at 31 August, 2022, the most recent date that figures are to hand, the strength of the Defence Forces was as follows:

  • PDF was 8,146 personnel                           (establishment strength 9,500)
  • Army was 6,621  personnel                        (establishment strength 7,520)
  • Air Corps was 704 personnel                      (establishment strength 886)
  • Naval Service was 821 personnel               (establishment strength 1,094)

As Minister, my focus remains on restoring all branches of the Defence Forces to the current agreed strength.

I remain committed to maximising recruitment and retention of personnel, both male and female, to maintain the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government.

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