Call for Coveney to address naval service manpower crisis

Call for Coveney to address naval service manpower crisis
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD said that the Naval Service needs a “response” from him well in advance of a Commission which is to be set up to examine all aspects of Defence.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who is taking control at the Department of Defence, says one of his immediate priorities in the role will be to address the manpower crisis in the Naval Service.

A year ago, the Naval Service had to tie-up two of its ships because it lacked crews and a third could follow suit before the end of the year if personnel continue to leave at the current rate.

Mr Coveney said on RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the Naval Service needs a “response” from him well in advance of a Commission which is to be set up to examine all aspects of Defence.

PDForra, which represents 6,800 enlisted personnel in the Defence Forces, said the first step Mr Coveney should take is to increase allowances across the Defence Forces.

General secretary, Ger Guinan, said further increases in allowances are needed in the Army, Air Corps and in particular the Naval Service: “Doing this is an absolute necessity, and it must be recognised it is most needed in the Naval Service."

He said PDForra would expect to “engage constructively” with Mr Coveney on a number of issues in the coming weeks.

One of these is likely to be the issue surrounding previously promised allowances for some highly-skilled personnel.

A report from the Pay Commission recommended allowance increases for personnel in the 'Tech 2 – Tech 6' range many months ago.

These include ship's engine room artificers, radar controllers, bomb disposal squad members and other expert roles.

Mr Guinan said the report has been sitting on the desk of officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform ever since and “something needs to be done about it sooner rather than later".

Mr Coveney said the new commission to examine Defence will be convened as quickly as possible, but said it will take time to complete its extensive report.

He added that the Government would “have to benchmark” this against what's being done in other countries which are also experiencing issues with increasing numbers of military personnel leaving for better pay and conditions elsewhere.

The Government has also committed in principle to setting up an Independent Pay Review Body for the Defence Forces. It's unlikely this will happen before the commission has made its report, which may not be until early 2022.

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