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Kehoe: 'There is a huge shortage of pilots' in Air Corps

Update 9.03am: The Minister of State for Defence has admitted that there is a huge shortage of pilots in the Air Corps.

Paul Kehoe said he has been reassured by the chief of staff that they are able to carry out their duties.

Defence force members have repeatedly warned they're having trouble recruiting and retaining staff because of low pay.

They have just agreed to the successor to the Lansdowne Road deal to try to restore wages to pre-crash levels.

Minister Kehoe said he knows it is an uphill battle.

"There is a huge shortage of pilots and we are competing against a huge strong economy when it comes to pilots," he said.

He will join the Taoiseach later as they visit Irish troops spending Christmas on duty in Lebanon.

Leo Varadkar will thank the Irish members of the UN interim force for their service.

Earlier: Defence Forces agree pay deal

The Defence Forces have agreed to a new deal on pay and conditions aimed at returning their wages to pre-crash levels.

The 'Public Service Stability Agreement' is the successor to the Lansdowne Road agreement.

It was accepted after a ballot of soldiers, sailors and aircrew - but they are keen to point out it is not a ringing endorsement.

Photo: Rollingnews.ie

They are still unhappy they are not allowed join with the trade union ICTU for discussions.

They said they are not being treated as well as other public servants who have managed to negotiate their own side deals.

Under the new agreement troops will see the return of a 5% allowance cut in 2010.

They added that they believe they are still owed more.

Digital Desk