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Defence | Addressing the pay and conditions issues in the Defence Forces

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence the extent to which various grievances arising from issues in the Defence Forces including pay and conditions, have been met or are in the course thereof; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Deputy will be aware that, with its approval of the Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces, that the Government committed to a range of actions to address pay and recruitment issues in the Defence Forces. These include a number of projects undertaken to bolster the attractiveness of a career in the Defence Forces, covering a range of measures which will improve pay and conditions.   

In 2022, the Department of Defence implemented two of the pay-related recommendations of the Report; namely, that all personnel of Private 3 Star/Able Seaman rank were paid the full rate of Military Service Allowance (MSA) applicable to the rank, while at the same time, the requirement for that cohort to ‘mark time’ for the first three years at that rank was removed.

These measures resulted in the pay rates (incl. MSA) for Private 3 Star/Able Seamen, in their first three years of service, starting at €36,419 in Year 1, rising to €37,788 in Year 2, and €39,050 in Year 3. These compare very well to starting rates of pay across the public service.

Access to the Sea-going Service Commitment Scheme for personnel with one year’s service in the Naval Service was also delivered on (reduced from three years), as were extensions of the Naval Service Sea Going Commitment Scheme and the Naval Service Tax Credit, as well as extending service limits for Privates, Corporals and Sergeants.

Also, and specifically in terms of pay, the Deputy will be aware that the Defence Forces are paid increases in pay and allowances in line with Public Service pay agreements.

The most recent of these, the extension to the ‘Building Momentum’ pay agreement, ratified by the Defence sector Representative Associations last autumn, provided for increases in pay and allowances to all public servants, including members of the Defence Forces. This agreement provided for a 6.5 % increase over 2022 and 2023, including: 

  • 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.

The 3% increase back-dated to February 2022 was paid to all serving members of the Defence Forces members by 30 November 2022 last. Preparations are underway to pay the next tranche of 2%, due on 1st March 2023. Furthermore, the 1% increase backdated to 1 October 2022 (agreed under the original Building Momentum agreement) was also paid by 30 November 2022.

In addition to this,  the implementation of the Sectoral Bargaining Fund element of the original Building Momentum Pay Agreement, in 2022, resulted in additional payments totalling €373,000 extra per annum – payments which will primarily benefit over 470 of the Defence Force’s lower paid members.

The implementation of the findings of the Technical Pay Groups 2-6 review, also in 2022, resulted in almost €1 million in additional technical pay to those covered by the Review by the year’s end.

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

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




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