Sunday 15 September 2019

Recruitment campaign led to a net increase of three people in defence forces personnel – Dáil told

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
John Downing

John Downing

The Government held a major year-long recruitment campaign for the army, navy and air corps – and it yielded a net increase of just three people, the Dáil has been told.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the army and other parts of the defence forces are in crisis with huge numbers were leaving the defence forces every single day. 

He said serving members of the forces and their families “suffer from food, fuel, income and child poverty” and many were leaving to take better-paid jobs elsewhere in the public service.

Mr Martin said a huge recruitment campaign in 2017,  when set against the huge numbers leaving, increased to the overall complement by just three.

“There’s a blind dependence by Government on recruiting its way on this crisis,” the Fianna Fáil leader said.  He added that a total of up to 50 people in all services were leaving each month.

There was a crisis in the numbers even allowing for the 450 personnel in full-time training and the 670 serving overseas.

During Dáil leaders’ questions Mr Martin said ships were not able to sail last month due to lack of personnel and the Air Corps operating at just 70pc capacity.

Replying, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged the difficulties with retention of personnel but he also argued the issue of pay was being addressed.

“Pay restoration is well underway across the public sector,” the Taoiseach said.

Mr Varadkar said anyone paid under €80,000 per year would have full pay restoration by the end of this year and there was a special examination of defence forces’ allowances. “We’re allowing for the re-entry of people into the Defence Forces,” he said.

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