Fine Gael Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the news that many soldiers will benefit from a four year extension to their service, thanks to a recommendation in the report of a third party Adjudicator in relation to a mandatory rule forcing the retirement of hundreds of soldiers after 21 years of service.
“I have raised this matter on numerous occasions in the Dáil with Defence Minister Simon Coveney, and impressed upon him the need to relax this rule which applies to all affected privates and corporals who joined the army since 1994. The 21 year rule was due to take effect this year and I have had many representations on this issue from serving members attached to Custume Barracks in Athlone.
““The findings in the Adjudicator’s Report mean that many soldiers who enlisted after January 1st 1994 will now benefit from up to four years of extra service. I broadly welcome this recommendation following
significant progress being made in previous discussions between PDFORRA and civil and military management.
“Following this adjudication recommendation which has been accepted by the Minister, serving Technical Privates and Corporals, in Grades 1 and 2, will now not be discharged after 21 years of maximum service provided they meet certain criteria. Instead, they will be eligible for up to another four years of extra service and criteria requirements include meeting annual medical and fitness tests and not exceeding 50 years of age during this period.
“Serving Technical Privates and Corporals of Technical Grade 3 and above will also be able to serve until 50 years of age, subject to them meeting annual medical and fitness tests and any other relevant criteria. Previously, the position was that they had to retire after 21 years of service.
“Naturally, this matter had been causing serious concern for soldiers and their families who have mortgage and family commitments, especially those who have the necessary skills and fitness levels to continue to serve beyond the 21 year limit.
“Minister Coveney explained that the measure was introduced to make sure soldiers are physically fit for a modern force and the rigours of overseas deployment. The Minister did also say he hoped there would be some flexibility in relation to the rule and this is welcome news to the many soldiers who would typically have been 19 or 20 when they joined the army.”