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For Oral Answer on : 20/06/2023
Question Number(s): 74 Question Reference(s): 29073/23
Department: Defence
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


* To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence if he will report on the outcome of the current recruitment campaign in respect of all branches of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– David Stanton T.D.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 20 June, 2023.


The Defence Forces remain committed to optimising the number of personnel inducted and current recruitment initiatives include ongoing general service recruitment, targeted service specific recruitment, direct entry recruitment, and the re-entry schemes.  The maximum age of entry was recently increased to 29 years old for General Service Recruits, Cadets, Air Corps Apprentices and certain specialists.

As I mentioned earlier, sanction has recently been received for 100 extra positions to facilitate the implementation of the Report on the Commission on the Defence Forces. This is in addition to the recent appointment of the civilian Head of Transformation and the pending appointment of a civilian Head of Strategic HR, within the Defence Forces. 

The military authorities have advised that, as at 31 May, a total of 150 personnel had been inducted into the Defence Forces. Applications for General Service Recruits, 10 direct entry specialists’ competitions and for the re-entry schemes are received and processed on an ongoing basis. A direct entry competition for Defence Forces School of Music instrumentalists closed on Sunday. Additionally, the applications received for the recently closed 2023 cadetship competition are being processed and those placed highest in order of merit are due to be called for interview shortly. 

The ‘Be More’ recruitment campaign highlights the career opportunities available in the Defence Forces and also the wider benefits of membership. As part of a Naval Service specific recruitment campaign, a Naval Service recruitment advertisement launched last week and will be rolled out across all media platforms in the coming weeks.  A contract has recently been awarded to a marine specialist recruitment body to target individuals with the skills and expertise required by the Naval Service.

In addition to these recruitment initiatives, a range of financial and non-financial retention measures have also been introduced by Government to counter the previously acknowledged staffing difficulties. These include service commitment schemes, tax measures, and recent agreement to further extend the service of post-94 Privates, Corporals and Sergeants allowing for their continuance in service to the end of 2024.

As I have outlined already, there has also been significant progress on pay. Current pay rates including Military Service Allowances for recruits on completion of their training, start at €37,147 in Year 1, rising to €38,544 in Year 2, and €39,832 in Year 3 of service.  A school leaver Cadet on commissioning is paid €41,123. After 2 years they are promoted to lieutenant and their pay rises to €46,406. Where a graduate joins – the pay rate on commissioning begins at €46,406. 

My immediate focus is on stabilising the numbers of personnel in the Defence Forces and thereafter increasing strength to meet the agreed level of ambition arising from the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces.