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Irish Defence Forces
retention crisis fix

Broad welcome from military officers as minister announces increase in sea pay for Navy

It has been long campaigned for by officers group RACO and the group representing enlisted personnel PDFORRA.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced a major increase in a special patrol duty allowance for Naval Service personnel while they are at sea. 

The move is a key measure to prevent the loss of sailors amid a staffing retention crisis in the Irish navy that saw just two ships with enough crew to go to sea.

It has been long campaigned for by the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) and the group representing enlisted personnel PDFORRA.

The move was announced today by Minister for State Jack Chambers at day two of the RACO conference.  

The changes will simplify the existing Naval Service measures by consolidating the daily allowance and the sea-going commitment scheme into one allowance. This is in line with the Commission on Defence Forces recommendation to replace existing sea-going allowances with less complex measures.

The Commission on the Defence Forces was a major report which recommended sweeping changes to the military to prevent loss of staff and to modernise equipment.

Patrol Duty Allowance is payable to all personnel serving aboard ship on duty, i.e. for each day spent on patrol which last an average of 20 days at a time.

The current daily rate of the patrol duty allowance for naval service personnel (e.g. for an Officer €64.67, for an enlisted person €64.27) from day 1 – day 10 will be maintained.

But once that ten day window is reached the daily rate of the allowance will be doubled for the rest of the patrol. This means that an officer will receive €129.24 and €128.54 for an enlisted person.

Minister for Defence and Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who is in Cairo today said that the announcement was very welcome.

“The challenges facing the Naval Service and the wider organisation are well documented, but the commitment, courage and excellence of our serving members is clear, as recently demonstrated in the recent detention of the cargo vessel MV Matthew.

“This is part of our ongoing investment in our Defence Forces; in its people, infrastructure, capabilities and culture,” he said. 

Lt Col Conor King, General Secretary of RACO welcomed the announcement.

“The requirement to simplify and enhance patrol duty allowance is something RACO has been calling for for years. 

“The Naval Service has been on the brink of collapse, and the numbers don’t lie. Today’s announcement of a doubling of patrol duty allowance comes as a major relief to our members and is a source of great optimism and positivity going forward. 

“We hope that it is reflective of further retention measures in the Defence Forces and we hope that it is the start of regeneration and recovery for Oglaigh na hÉireann,” he said.

52606291351_355a49d3af_o Members of the Irish Naval Service on parade. Irish Defence Forces Irish Defence Forces

Mark Keane, President of PDFORRA, who is a Naval Service member also welcomed the measure.

“We welcome any initiative that lends itself to solving the retention and recruitment crisis in our Naval Service. 

“It is a one step of multiple steps that need to be taken if all the stakeholders serious about addressing the chronic retention issues we are facing in the navy,” he said. 

Lt General Seán Clancy, the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, welcomed the move and said it was a “significant step in the regeneration of the Naval Service”.

“It is clear recognition of the professionalism of our personnel and the hardship endured by our Naval Service serving at sea. It is a welcome recognition of the value the state places on its service women and men,” he said. 

Flag Officer Commanding of the Naval Service, Commodore Michael Malone said: “The doubling of the patrol duty allowance and the maintenance of the maritime tax credit is very much welcomed, and reflects the commitment and hard work of Naval Service personnel serving at sea. This is a significant step in the continued regeneration of the Naval Service.”