The Government's aim of recruiting an additional 400 personnel to the Defence Forces is “unattainable" unless it significantly improves pay and conditions.
That was the view among delegates attending PDForra’s annual conference, who passed a motion calling on the Government to fully implement the findings of the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces on the need for better pay and conditions.
PDForra general secretary Gerard Guinan said it is remarkable that despite the relatively positive pronouncements by the commission, they continue to hemorrhage personnel from the Defence Forces "at an alarming rate."
"Our members have endured years of hardship with report after report and commission after commission reporting on the perilous state of the Defence Forces.
"We have ships that cannot go to sea for want of crews, aircraft that are having to be serviced away from the air corps, and increasing numbers of personnel who are being mandatorily selected for overseas service due to lack of numbers,” Mr Guinan said.
He said his association is worried about the lack of movement on pay structures, despite their recommendations in the commission’s report.
He said while the budget announcement of the recruitment of an additional 400 personnel was welcome, “this will be unattainable in the absence of movement on pay and allowance rates, which have not changed in any considerable manner.”
"Our association is calling on government to frontload the pay structure measures, including the reform of sea-going allowances, the introduction of long service increments for enlisted personnel, as recommended by the Public Service PAY Commission in 2019 and the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces in 2022.
"Additionally, the introduction of the rank of Lance Corporal would be a positive measure if undertaken correctly,” Mr Guinan said.
PDForra president Mark Keane said the general retirement age should also be increased to 56, saying the personnel must undergo fitness and medical examinations on a yearly basis, which ensures their ability to perform duties.