Record numbers leaving the Naval Service

Record numbers leaving the Naval Service

A record number of sailors are bailing out of the Naval Service and fears have been raised that it will be the worst year on record for departures of highly trained personnel.

In the first five months of the year, 90 personnel left the navy and a further 14 are on leave awaiting their discharge.

Last month alone, one sailor left the service in the equivalent of every two days and 13 of the 15 purchased their discharge.

PDForra, which represents enlisted men in the service, said the numbers are "unprecedented," even considering the increasing exodus of personnel in recent years.

By the end of the year the figure is likely to be much higher because a number of personnel are in line for retirement having served 21 and 31 years - which entitles them to a pension.

PDForra president, Mark Keane, said his organisation is very concerned about the exodus and the increasing burden that is left to the ever-decreasing number of personnel who remain.

"Naturally enough this exodus is placing an increased burden on our members who are left behind to even carry a greater burden," Mr Keane said.

"Unfortunately we are at present in competition with other uniformed services in the State (such as the gardaí and fire service) who are recruiting from the same gene pool.

"The greatest enemy that the recruitment sergeant has is a booming economy."

He said military life naturally by nature is robust and does carry a certain degree of hardship, which it seems it seems is not attractive to large numbers of people in society today.

"We have voiced our concerns at this mass exodus over a long period of time and take no solace in the numbers discharging.

"A urgent need now exists to address this by every means at the Department of Defence's disposal if we are to make it a attractive and viable career for those seeking to enlist in Óglaigh na hEireann," Mr Keane said.

Meanwhile, a lobby group which has held protests in Dublin and Cork highlighting poor pay and conditions in the Defence Forces has announced it is planning a third demonstration.

One of the main organisers, retired Regimental Sergeant Major Noel O'Callaghan, said that they will hold a protest in Galway on Saturday, August 10.

"At a time when our Minster for Defence Leo Varadkar is looking for a seat on the UN Council our Defence Forces are hemorrhaging highly trained and experienced members of all ranks and services due to pay, allowances and contracts that are not fit for purpose," Mr O'Callaghan said.

It's expected that hundreds of veterans and families of serving Defence Forces personnel will attend the protest which will get underway at noon.

Mr O'Callaghan said the protest will be live streamed to USA, Australia, Brussels, Uganda and Sri Lanka.

The reason for that is because a number of former Defence Forces members live in those countries.

Some of them travelled to the protest in Cork in May, including Eamon Dolan, a maritime security expert and former Irish Naval Service chief petty officer who lives in Sri Lanka.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Dolan said the Defence Forces has been so reduced in experience and numbers that he can't see it being able to cope if a terrorist attack, like the recent one in his adopted country, was to strike Ireland.

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