Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Defence Matters: Statements
I agree with many of the comments that have been made. I know a number of people who have served overseas in all divisions of the Defence Forces. I am familiar with the work they do. We have all mentioned recruitment and the Minister of State referred to it on a number of occasions. I do not think recruitment is the issue. Many people are willing to join the Air Corps, Naval Service or Army. The real problem is retention. The Minister of State made reference to the Public Service Pay Commission. It needs to report very quickly because part of the problem associated with retention is pensions, particularly for those who have recently joined the military. There is a fixed time at which they have to go. They have to retire by the age of 58 or 60, a restriction not applied to anyone else. However, they do not receive their State pension until the age of 66 at present, and that age will be 68 or 69 by the time many of these people are retiring. There used to be a supplementary pension that would cover the time between being forced to retire by the State and receiving the State pension. I ask the Minister of State to speak to the pay commission so that this can be resolved. It is an issue that is upsetting the military at the moment and making it difficult for the Defence Forces to retain personnel, particularly in the 30 to 40 age group, because those people are looking towards where they will be in 20 or 25 years. That is when I started my own private pension. They will have to consider whether to do that then. Can the Minister of State give them some reassurance that there will be something for them when they are forced out of the military and until they receive the full State pension?