€1,270 pay boost to end exodus from naval service

€1,270 pay boost to end exodus from naval service
Mark Keane wanted an increase in duty allowances.

Navy personnel are to be given an extra €1,270 in their wages next year in the hope it will start to halt the exodus of personnel from the naval service.

The move comes following an agreement between the minister of state with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe, and the Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, to try and stem the ever-increasing numbers bailing out from the naval service — a crisis which has become so acute two ships were taken off operations last June because they didn’t have crew for the flagship, LÉ Eithne and the off-shore patrol vessel LÉ Orla.

Both of these vessels remain “tied-up” due to the manpower shortage.

Sources within the naval service have informed the Irish Examiner, which was the first to break the story, that it is unlikely they will go to sea again until at least next summer, and that will depend on the manpower situation not deteriorating further in the meantime.

Mr Kehoe said the money will go to personnel who spend 80 or more days at sea from next year on, acknowledging “the challenging work they carry out, their lengthy periods at sea and away from their families”.

It was welcomed by Defence Forces’ representative associations, Raco for the officers, and PDForra for enlisted personnel. However, both organisations said more had to be done to address the ongoing retention and recruitment crisis.

PDForra general secretary Ger Guinan said his association had long campaigned for such a move, but he and association president Mark Keane said they wanted an increase in duty allowances for navy personnel and more was needed to keep experienced personnel and attract newcomers.

Raco general secretary Comdt Conor King said the navy often operate in a hazardous, high-risk environment and this proposed tax credit is a small but welcome first step in recognising the huge sacrifice made by sailors and their families.

“It also recognises the commitment of those working at the coal face of maritime Defence and security operations,” said Comdt King.

“Raco has also called for an increase in Patrol Duty Allowance, and it is believed that this is also being considered by government.”

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