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For Oral Answer on : 03/10/2023
Question Number(s): 77 Question Reference(s): 41037/23
Department: Defence
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence if he has considered a retention payment to encourage personnel to remain in the Naval Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


I fully acknowledge the challenges currently facing the Defence Forces in relation to recruitment and retention, including in particular, the Naval Service.  Ireland is not alone, however, in these challenges, which are being experienced by a number of other militaries across the world, with particular challenges for Navys internationally.

There are a number of specific financial retention measures already in place in the Naval Service to recognise service at sea including a Patrol Duty Allowance, a Naval Service Sea-going Service Commitment Scheme and a Sea-going Naval Personnel Tax Credit.

The implementation of Early Actions from the Commission on the Defence Forces Report, in addition to the most recent pay increases provided under the Building Momentum pay agreement, have contributed to significant progress on pay for all personnel including those in the Naval Service.

Other initiatives undertaken to address recruitment and retention issues in the Naval Service include:

  • Changes to recruitment practices with the assistance of external specialists,
  • Targeted recruitment campaign for the Naval Service
  • Service limits for privates, corporals and sergeants and Naval Service equivalents recruited after 1 January 1994 have been extended.
  • Expansion of access to the Naval Service Commitment scheme with service requirements reduced from three years to one year.
  • General Service and Direct Entry recruitment is ongoing, as are the Re-entry schemes for former personnel.
  • Extension of private secondary healthcare to all ranks in the Defence Forces, a benefit that previously was available to Officers only.
  • Significant investment in equipment and physical infrastructure.
  • Participation in the overseas mission Operation Irini.

A further range of financial and non-financial retention measures are also being advanced including:

  • Progressing with DPENDPR the replacement of the existing sea-going allowances with less complex sea-going duty measures
  • Examination of mandatory retirement ages in all ranks in the Permanent Defence Force.
  • Progressing with DPENDPR the introduction of a mechanism to provide for the ongoing review of the application of existing specialist pay rates and allowances.
  • A Review of Medical Services in the Defence Forces,
  • Associate membership of ICTU for the Representative Associations to be underpinned by legislation.
  • The finalisation of the policy position on the Working Time Directive.

My focus is to stabilise the Naval Service.  The immediate action required is to provide for less complex sea going duty measures which will encourage and reward sea going in the Naval Service.  This action is actively being progressed with the DPENDPR.  There are no plans to introduce a further retention payment. Any such proposal would have to be considered in the context of wider Public Service pay policy.