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Minister announces Positive Measures to Retain Personnel in the Permanent Defence Force

Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, TD this morning announced positive changes to the terms and conditions for post 1994 soldiers contracts. 


The Minister welcomed agreement on his proposal for Privates and Corporals, who were recruited to the Permanent Defence Force since 1994, to remain in service up to 50 years of age. In addition, the Minister has secured arrangements that will facilitate Sergeants to continue to serve beyond 50 years of age. Details in relation to the proposal for Sergeants will be finalised following further discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and their representative association PDFORRA. This change in policy will allow for around 500 personnel to have the option to continue in service beyond 31 December 2022, subject to meeting certain criteria including passing Defence Forces medical and fitness tests.


The Minister thanked his colleague Mr Michael McGrath, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for his assistance in bringing this matter to a positive conclusion.


The Minister said: “a review of the service limits for enlisted personnel has been one of my priorities. We have a professional, fit and healthy defence forces who are required to pass regular medical and fitness tests.  It is important for the future of our Defence Forces that these highly trained and experienced personnel are retained.  It is also important for individual personnel in terms of providing certainty and clarity on their future careers.  I know that this was a pressing matter for serving soldiers and their families.  I gave a commitment that I would address this matter before the end of the year.  I am delighted to be able to honour that commitment”.  


The Minister acknowledged that because of the nature of their duties, there is a need for the Defence Forces to maintain a low age profile across all ranks but he noted that “even with the increase in mandatory retirement age for this cohort of personnel, the age to which certain Defence Forces personnel can serve is lower than other public service groups”


The Minister concluded by saying “as Minister for Defence, my priority is to return the Defence Forces to full establishment.  In that context the increase in mandatory retirement ages for Privates and Corporals and the arrangements for Sergeants to serve beyond 50 years of age is another important step in that process. It will positively assist with the retention of highly trained and experienced personnel in the PDF”.



The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy, welcomed the positive announcement in retaining Post 94 Permanent Defence Force personnel, stating "The men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann are our greatest asset and therefore, retaining these experienced, highly trained and knowledgeable personnel is a key enabler in strengthening our capability."


Note for Editors

Military life places unique demands on individuals and it is necessary that Defence Forces personnel are prepared to meet the challenges of all military operations. For this reason compulsory retirement ages for ranks in the Permanent Defence Force are considerably lower than in other employments.


The age and fitness profile of the Permanent Defence Force have been the subject of a number of reviews. A range of policies were introduced to ensure an appropriate age profile and levels of fitness. This included fixed term contracts for certain ranks enlisted from 1994 onwards.


Arising from an adjudication in 2015, through the Conciliation and Arbitration scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force, it was agreed that a review of contracts of service for Line Corporals and Privates and Corporals in receipt of Technical Pay 1 and 2 would be conducted. It was subsequently agreed with PDFORRA (the representative body for enlisted personnel), that all Privates and Corporals recruited post 1994, would be allowed to continue in service to 31 December 2022 (or until they reach the age of 50), provided these personnel meet certain criteria during the interim period, including medical grades and fitness tests.  This agreement was also extended to include post 1994 Sergeants, who also can continue to serve to the same date, subject to their meeting similar criteria in the interim period. These measures were put in place to provide time for the review to be completed. 


A joint civil/military review of mandatory retirement ages of all ranks in the Permanent Defence Force was conducted. The review took into account the Report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Permanent Defence Force, (2019), which included in their recommendations, the need to consider options to tackle barriers to extended participation in the Permanent Defence Force. 


Members of the Permanent Defence Force have superannuation arrangements which allows them to accrue pension benefits over an accelerated shorter timeframe due to the fact that they have to retire at an age which is much younger than the majority of public servants.