An eyesight-test anomaly which has been blamed for depleted recruitment in the Naval Service Reserve (NSR) still remains in place, despite promises made nearly a year ago to scrap it.
On April 26 last, the minister with responsibility for defense, Paul Kehoe, told a joint Oireachtas committee on defence that the NSR eyesight standards were “currently being changed”.
The Naval Service Reserve requires 20/20 vision, whereas no other branches of the Defence Forces, either regulars or reserves, require perfect vision.
The delay in scrapping the 20/20 vision requirement has been criticised by the Reserve Defence Force Representative Association (RDFRA). A spokesman said certainty is needed ahead of the new recruitment drive, which the Irish Examiner understands was supposed to have started earlier this month, but has been delayed.
“We estimate that we lose 50% of otherwise suitable candidates because of this regulation. But they can then go on to join the permanent Defence Forces,” the spokesman said.
A Department of Defence spokeswoman said that a report regarding eyesight standards required for NSR recruits has been submitted by the flag officer commanding the Naval Service, Commodore Mick Malone, to the general staff “and the findings of this report are actively being considered”.
She said that, as is normal practice, this proposal has been circulated to a variety of offices within the Defence Forces that are required to have an input into it.
“Any recommendation to amend eyesight standards will, of course, have a requirement for engagement with the representative associations,” the spokeswoman added.