Fianna Fáil Party Whip and Spokesperson on Defence Seán Ó Fearghaíl has welcomed the progress made in resolving the dispute over the 21 year service rule for rank and file members of the Defence Forces. Deputy Ó Fearghaíl said that the plan to extend the rule by a further four years is a step in the right direction but that more work is needed to resolve the dispute. The plan requires the approval of Minister’s Coveney & Howlin. The Fianna Fáil Spokesperon made the comments after raising the matter with Minister Coveney in the Dáil earlier today.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl commented, “I welcome the comments made by Minister Coveney in the Dáil regarding the progress being made in resolving the long running dispute over the 21 year service rule. This is a matter that I have been raising for quite some time with both Minister Coveney and former Minister Shatter in the Dáil and on the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.
“Under the current rule many rank and file members must leave the Defence Forces after 21 years of service. This is very problematic as many of those affected by the rule are young men and women aged in their 30’s and 40’s. Many of these people have significant financial commitments and are supporting young families. Under the current rule they face an uncertain future given the difficult economic climate at present.
“Changes have already been implemented for higher ranking officers to allow them stay on in the Defence Forces. Members of An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service have also been allowed to serve until the age of 60. We’re also talking about people of significant skill and in whom a great deal of money and training has been invested by the state. In light of this it seems reasonable to allow rank and file members to serve longer in the Defence Forces.
“The compromise between the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA) and civil and military management will see the rule extended by a further four years. I welcome this progress but more work is needed to ensure that the concerns of rank and file members in the Defence Forces are adequately addressed. Rank and file members of the Defence Forces should be treated with the same level of respect as their colleagues in the emergency services” said Deputy Ó Fearghaíl.