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For Written Answer on : 05/07/2022
Question Number(s): 327 Question Reference(s): 35555/22
Department: Defence
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


To ask the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 118 of 28 June 2022, the number of permanent Defence Forces personnel who left the Defence Forces in 2022 up to 31 May; the reasons for leaving in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


As of 31 May 2022, 313 personnel were discharged from the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) comprised of 21 officers and 292 enlisted personnel.

The military authorities have provided the following tables which detail the reasons for discharge and the numbers discharged as at 31st May 2022:  

ReasonTotal Discharged
Voluntary Retirement16
Retirement on Age Grounds3
Below Defence Forces Medical Standards1
Retired on Expiration of Short Service Commission1
Enlisted   Personnel
ReasonTotal Discharged
At his/her own request after 12 years’ service9
At his/her own request8
Below Defence Forces Medical Standards11
Determination of Service by the Minister for Defence5
Discharge by purchase116
Expiry of Permanent Defence Force service1
His/her services being no longer required2
On pension after 21 years’ service83
On termination of engagement53

As can be seen above, there are a range of reasons why personnel discharge from the Defence Forces. More than 50% who leave the Defence Force do so with some form of pension. This can make taking up a position in the private sector very attractive where a full-time position, even at the same rates as those in the Defence Forces, could lead to an increase in an individual’s earnings.

Additionally, recruits can also elect to discharge by purchase while still undergoing training and the average turnover rate for such recruits has been around 30% over the last number of years. The realities of military life and the training requirements are not always suitable for some recruits or in line with their expectations of the role. In any position where there is a training period prior to appointment there will always be fall off at different stages of the process.

While the Commission on the Defence Forces stated in their report that they were satisfied, in broad terms, that the levels of average turnover are not out of line with other military organisations internationally, its work included wider deliberation on the appropriate capabilities and staffing of the Permanent Defence Force. Consideration of the recommendations of the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces is ongoing. I intend to revert shortly to Government with a proposed response to those recommendations and a high-level action plan, which will set out proposed timelines and oversight arrangements for its implementation.