Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Defence Jack Chambers TD has described news that Defence Forces officers have paid up to €67,000 to buy their way out of their military careers early as “shocking”.

New information released to the Irish Times shows that 24 officers across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service who were sent to university as part of their training then opted to pay their way out early over the past 4½ years.

Deputy Chambers said: “The shocking exodus of key officers in highly specialised areas, like cyber security and mechanical engineering, is exacerbating the ongoing crisis in the Defence Forces. This exodus reinforces the absence of hope for the future of the Defence Forces where Minister Kehoe refuses to progress substantive or realistic retention policies to keep key personnel and officers.

“The individuals forking out up €60,000 to escape the army, naval service and air corps are precisely the kind of people we should be trying to hang onto and develop into key leadership positions to ensure a modern and progressive Defence Forces. Instead we are on a path to Armageddon where structures will continue to collapse until we see a turnaround in government policy.

“The government should urgently establish a full commission on the future of the defence forces and an independent pay review body, so we can give stability, hope and a proper career trajectory for many of those who are leaving,” concluded Deputy Chambers.