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  • Minister announces positive measures to retain Sergeants in the PDF

    Minister announces positive measures to retain Sergeants in the Permanent Defence Force

    From Department of Defence

    Published on 2 November 2022

    Last updated on 2 November 2022

    The Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney announced today that he has secured an interim arrangement which will allow for the continuance in service of Sergeants in the Permanent Defence Force who were due to be retired on age grounds at the end of this year, to allow those Sergeants serve beyond their current service limits.

    The arrangement will allow for the retention in service for a further 2 years to the end of 2024 for those Sergeants who would reach mandatory retirement age before that date, subject to their meeting certain criteria including passing medical and fitness tests.

    The Minister thanked his colleague Michael McGrath, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, for his assistance in this matter.

    The Minister said:
    "It is important for the future of our Defence Forces that these highly trained and experienced personnel are retained.”

    The Minister acknowledged that this cohort of personnel had entered service at a time when the standards of medical and fitness in the Defence Forces were below current levels. For that reason the mandatory retirement ages were reduced. The Minister said:
    "A lot has changed in the intervening years. We have a professional, fit and healthy Defence Forces who are required to pass regular medical and fitness tests.”

    The Minister said 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 extension in service for this cohort of personnel, the age to which certain Defence Forces personnel can serve is lower than other public service groups."

    The Minister said that the service limits for all ranks in the Defence Forces will continue to be kept under review which will be considered in the context of the Inter-Departmental Working Group, which the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has established, to consider mandatory retirement ages and service limits for public service groups who have fast accrual pension arrangements.

    The Minister concluded by saying:
    "While this is an interim measure, it is another important step in the process of not only returning the Defence Forces to existing establishment but also progressing towards the increased establishment as recommended by the Commission on the Defence Forces."

    The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy, welcomes the Minister’s announcement, which sets out the interim arrangement allowing for the continuance in service of post-94 Sergeants beyond their current service limits, stating:
    "The men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann are our greatest asset. I will continue to advocate on behalf of this cohort of highly-valued and highly-trained senior non-commissioned leaders. Retaining these experienced personnel is a key enabler in strengthening our capability."


    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.

    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.

    As current pension arrangements for personnel enlisted to the Permanent Defence Force on or after 1 January 1994, are based on date of entry to the Defence Forces, any proposals to amend the length of service requires Department of Public Expenditure and Reform consideration of the impact on costs and pensions. - Minister announces positive measures to retain Sergeants in the Permanent Defence Force (
    For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.