65. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status the joint submission by his Department and the management of the Defence Forces that was lodged to the Public Sector Pay Commission (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to correspondence outlining the financial situation of members of Óglaigh na hÉireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19217/18 asked on 02 May 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Defence Forces have traditionally been set by, inter alia, reference to relative levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public sector.

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.

Members of the Defence Forces received increases in pay in 2017 under the Lansdowne Road Agreement. 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. Members of the Defence Forces received an increase of 1% on annualised salaries from 1 January 2018.

The entry point on the payscale for new three star privates is now €27,527 (inclusive of military service allowance), which is an increase of 25% in the last 12 months. This compares very favourably with other entry level posts across the public service.

A newly commissioned officer starts on a salary inclusive of military service allowance in excess of €35,000 per annum, following 15 months training. If officers are already graduates they start on a salary in excess of €40,000 per annum, inclusive of military service allowance. These rates of pay compare favourably with the average graduate salary across all sectors.

Basic pay is just an element of the overall remuneration package for members of the Permanent Defence Force. A range of duties and appointments attract additional allowances.

In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues.

The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work and has requested statistical data and evidence from my Department. My Department has been working in close collaboration with Military management with the aim of preparing the material requested. The Military authorities have produced a paper. This is being considered by my Department having regard to the data and information requested.

My Department has forwarded an initial tranche of information to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to Air Corps pilots. Further material in relation to the challenges in the Defence sector will be submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in the coming weeks as the collation of data and information is completed.

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