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Over 500 former Defence Forces members apply to re-enlist

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Paul Kehoe. Photo: Tom Burke

Paul Kehoe. Photo: Tom Burke

Paul Kehoe. Photo: Tom Burke

More than 500 former members of the Defence Forces have applied to re-enlist in the military.

A scheme, introduced by Minister with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe, allows for ex-members to rejoin for a minimum of six months and up to three years.

The move was announced at the start of the month and has already attracted 540 applications.

It is one of a number of measures brought in to help alleviate the recruitment and retention crisis in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps.

The minister said those wishing to apply were required to meet a range of eligibility criteria such as medical and physical fitness and must also be within the age requirements for the rank for the duration of their enlistment.

Mr Kehoe disclosed the figures for up to April 15 in a response to a query from Kildare South TD and chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, Martin Heydon.

The chief of staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett will identity where specific shortages of personnel exist and make recommendations to the minister on those that may be re-enlisted.

Work on establishing eligibility is already under way and the military authorities are also analysing each applicant’s skills and qualifications.

Mr Heydon pointed out that the scheme was designed for medium to long term requirements and would remain in place after the Covid-19 response was complete.

He said that while every effort was being made to return Irish troops due home from peacekeeping duties, the moratorium placed by the United Nations on upcoming rotations and leave made that difficult.

“The moratorium is designed to ensure the continued operations of essential peacekeeping missions, protect vulnerable populations in conflict zones and maintain international peace and security.

“A request for an exemption to the moratorium has been made but the final decision rests with the UN”, he added.

The minister said the UN direction impacted upon over 100,000 uniformed personnel from more than 120 countries serving world-wide.

Troops serving with the Unifil mission in Lebanon are due to arrive home in two rotations on May 12 and May 19.

Senior officials from the Department of Defence and military officers are working to achieve an exemption from the moratorium, which is intended to last until June 30.

Mr Kehoe confirmed that peacekeepers whose service overseas was extended beyond the rotation dates would continue to receive their peace support allowances for that time, amounting to between €2,500 and €3,400 per month, in addition to their normal pay.

Those allowances will continue to be tax-free.

“Personnel and families will be advised and updated by the Defence Forces as further information becomes available and as the implications of these decisions are fully evaluated to ensure that we can provide them with as much information as possible”, Mr Kehoe added.

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