11. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the steps he is taking to respond to the matter of pay and conditions for the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12464/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Irish public service have traditionally been set by, amongst other things, reference to levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public service. Defence Forces pay is increasing in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay. The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 provides for further increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the Agreement with the focus of the agreement once again being on the lower paid.

A 1% increase in annualised salaries due from 1 January 2018 has been paid to members of the Permanent Defence Force.

Following these revisions in pay, the starting pay for a newly qualified three star private, and their Naval Service equivalent, (inclusive of military service allowance) is €27,257, gross annual earnings, with scope for further income from duty allowances. This is a significant increase on the €21,800 per annum which was the annual amount prior to the implementation of the increases in pay received through recent pay agreements.

The starting pay for a Corporal, including Military Service Allowance, is over €37,000 per annum. The first point on the payscale for a Sergeant, including Military Service Allowance, is €40,000 per annum.

In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence raised recruitment and retention issues as part of the submission to the Public Service Pay Commission. In a further acknowledgement of these issues the Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission with examining these challenges in the Defence Sector in more detail.

The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work and has requested detailed information from the Department of Defence. Defence management are preparing their submission which will be sent to the Commission in the coming weeks.

The Public Service Pay Commission is due to complete this exercise in the second half of 2018. The findings and proposals arising will be considered at that time.