74. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost of restoring the scheme whereby a €22,000 bonus was paid to officers in the Air Corps over five years if they chose to extend their contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19313/18 asked on 02 May 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 75 together.

The retention of Officers in the Defence Forces, in particular retaining Air Corps Pilot Officers, has been a challenge for the Defence Forces in recent years. The most recent Air Corps Pilot Service Commitment Scheme ran from 2002 to 2010 with the intention of retaining experienced AC Pilot Officers.

The following table illustrates the number of personnel who availed of the scheme, the rank of each and the annual cost of the operation.

Year Numbers of Personnel availing of the scheme Rank Annual Cost(€)
2002 52 1 Capt, 29 Comdt, 19 Lt Col, 3 Col 468,768.95
2003 37 4 Capts, 16 Comdt, 7 Lt Col, 1 Col, 9 Brig Gen 517,322.52
2004 97 16 Capt, 50 Comdt, 28 Lt Col, 3 Col 587,677.57
2005 89 17 Capt, 46 Comdt, 23 Lt Col, 3 Col 659,892.73
2006 58 8 Capt, 32 Comdt, 16 Lt Col, 2 Col 618,244.55
2007 53 6 Capt, 30 Comdt, 15 Lt Col, 2 Col 529,214.35
2008 46 0 Capt, 27 Comdt, 17 Lt Col, 2 Col 579,634.32
2009 34 0 Capt, 19 Comdt, 13 Lt Col, 2 Col 514,448.00
2010 22 0 Capt, 13 Comdt, 7 Lt Col, 2 Col 607,616.60
Total 5,082,819.59

The Department of Defence brought the issue of the retention of certain specialist, including Air Corps pilots, to the attention of the Public Service Pay Commission in 2017. This matter is referenced in paragraph 6.29 of the Commission’s report of May 2017.

The Government has tasked the Public Service Pay Commission with examining recruitment and retention challenges in the Defence Sector in more detail and issues relating to recruitment and retention will be examined within this forum. In this context, the Public Service Pay Commission has requested detailed information from the Department of Defence. The Department has forwarded an initial tranche of information to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and further information will be sent in the coming weeks. The Public Service Pay Commission is due to complete work in this regard in the second half of 2018.