Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Defence

Defence Forces Data

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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12. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of full-time personnel employed across the Defence Forces for each of the years 2008 to 2019 and to date in 2020, by branch in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11341/20]

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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13. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 16 of 20 May 2020, the date on which each of the current vacancies across the Defence Forces first arose in tabular form; the efforts taken to recruit to fill these posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11342/20]

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together.

The reply to Parliamentary Question No. 16 of 20 May 2020 provided a snapshot of the number of vacancies that existed in the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) on 30 April which was achieved by calculating the variance between the strength of the PDF on that date and the agreed establishment. The information requested on the exact nature of each of these vacancies is not readily available. However, vacancies are filled on an ongoing basis through promotion competitions and recruitment.

The table details the strength of the Permanent Defence Force from 2008 to May 2020.

Year Army Air Corps Naval Service Total
2020* 6,837 727 887 8,451
2019 7,002 721 936 8,659
2018 7,243 725 989 8,957
2017 7,386 734 1,053 9,173
2016 7,332 704 1,090 9,126
2015 7,309 748 1,083 9,140
2014 7,457 766 1,057 9,280
2013 7,434 779 1,023 9,236
2012 7,510 791 1,058 9,359
2011 7,650 791 997 9,438
2010 7,752 766 1,032 9,550
2009 8,070 805 1,031 9,906
2008 8,507 832 1,070 10,409
*2020 figures as at 31 May.

In 2012 the Government decided to stabilise the strength of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) at 9,500 personnel and this was further reflected in the White Paper on Defence (2015). While the Government remains committed to returning to, and maintaining this agreed strength, the capacity of the Defence Forces to induct and train recruits has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 situation. This has resulted in the postponement of the majority of inductions in the year to date.

The Defence Forces remain committed to optimising the number of personnel inducted during 2020. In that context, the military authorities have advised that they are currently finalising plans to re-commence General Service training and recruitment, taking public health guidelines into account. A campaign to re-enlist former members of the Permanent Defence Force, to fill certain vacancies, is also underway.

In addition, the report of the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) of 2019 contains a range of recommendations aimed at improving work-force planning, recruitment and conditions of service for members of the Defence Forces. A High Level Plan to giver effect to the recommendations of the PSPC is being implemented.

It should be noted that as the High Level Implementation Plan contains short, medium and long term measures, the full impact of these measures will take time to determine. There are also a range of external variables which impact on recruitment and retention and which can change and these will be carefully monitored to assess their effect as they arise.

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