| 16.8°C Dublin

Military officers 'have lost trust' in pledge to halt exodus

Close

Senior officers admitted last night that they no longer trusted the management and accused them of empty commitments to strengthen the organisation. Stock photo: Frank McGrath

Senior officers admitted last night that they no longer trusted the management and accused them of empty commitments to strengthen the organisation. Stock photo: Frank McGrath

Frank McGrath

Senior officers admitted last night that they no longer trusted the management and accused them of empty commitments to strengthen the organisation. Stock photo: Frank McGrath

Military officers have lost confidence in their management to deliver a package that will restore plummeting morale in the Defence Forces and reverse the trend that has seen current strength fall to an all-time low.

Senior officers admitted last night that they no longer trusted the management and accused them of empty commitments to strengthen the organisation.

The damning admission follows a warning from the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) that the exodus from the Defence Forces is set to continue.

Officers said they were "hugely concerned" at the publication last week of an official paper on the Defence Forces, which used outdated information and figures from the Department of Defence and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform from 2017 to analyse the crisis facing the military. They said the publication was issued without consultation with the two representative associations and was "essentially a whitewash" and "another nail in the coffin" for the retention of personnel in the Defence Forces.

RACO responded with up-to-date figures, which showed that the current strength at 8,485 was 1,015 below the establishment figure of 9,500.

The strength has continued to fall as a result of an unsustainably high turnover rate of 10pc. In 2019, the Defence Forces suffered a net loss of 265 personnel with 870 departing the service and only 605 recruits taken in.

RACO said this was due to widely acknowledged poor conditions of service and low rates of pay.

Some troops are so badly paid that they qualify for the family income supplement.

RACO said that last July, when the defence pay commission announced its recommendations to end the exodus of personnel from the military, that the measure of the success or failure of the plan would be seen in the trend in Defence Forces' strength.

Meanwhile, members of PDFORRA, which represents soldiers, sailors and air crew, have expressed their frustration at the refusal of military management to press ahead with the promotion of privates from two-star to three-star.

Those seeking the move up were well advanced in their course when it was scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the military top brass refused to allow them to advance since despite the decision of the Garda authorities to allow recruits, who were not even halfway through their course at the Garda College in Templemore, to be attested and sent on duty.

PDFORRA said the military decision was "deeply frustrating" and had caused concern as all of those involved in the course played a full part since in military and Covid duties.

The association is now taking a case on behalf of its members through the conciliation and arbitration scheme.

Sunday Independent