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A stock image of the LE Eithne.
A stock image of the LE Eithne.

Defence forces losing out on recruits due to 'low pay'

THE Defence Forces are losing out on recruits to companies such as Pfizer and McDonald’s due to the tough conditions and low pay currently being experienced by members of the force.

The low pay is being blamed as one of the key reasons for poor retention rates among new recruits and the low number of new applicants for open roles.

PDFORRA president Mark Keane said there needs to be adequate financial pay for the work they are doing.

“We are not looking for ridiculous amounts of money, but for new recruits, we are now competing with the likes of Pfizer and even McDonalds,” he said.

Mr Keane said the Defence Forces need 750 recruits to bring numbers back up to what they should be and they are struggling to attract bodies with the current offerings. There are currently around 9,000 members in the force and there should be 9,500 members and around 250 in training.

Mr Keane also said that skilled members of the Defence Forces are forgoing large sums of money to serve their country.

Speaking to the Evening Echo, Mr Keane said there are a number of skill sets within the Defence Forces who could obtain well-paid employment with companies outside of the defence forces, with less stress, strain, and hardship than they are currently enduring.

The PDFORRA president said that morale is an issue among the force.

“There is a growing level of frustration. The career was never financially rewarding but you joined because you liked it and you were into it.”

Now, Mr Keane said, members of the force are required to pick up the slack from the missing members and it is resulting in an increased workload for those left behind.

“We have commitments to the Government that we have to meet. There are cash escorts, air rescue, Portlaoise prison, aid to civil power. Things like Storm Ophelia, Storm Emma, gorse fires — and we also have a commitment to having 650 troops overseas.”

Mr Keane said a big problem is recruits joining and leaving again within two to three years.

“Only after a year and a half do they start their first post and then they realise the money isn’t great, conditions aren’t great, there is an increased workload and little downtime.”

Mr Keane said restoration of pay is a major issue, as is accommodation.