A "yellow pack pension" provided to officers who joined the Defence Forces after 2013 is likely to lead many of them to quit the country's military prematurely in what's being described as “Generation Resignation".
This will leave the country's already depleted Defence Forces with an even bigger personnel crisis.
One junior officer said he “adores” his job but as he gets older and looks at his future with the pension he will get, he added: “I may have no alternative but to seek employment elsewhere.”
He said he would reluctantly have to add: “In all consciousness, I couldn't encourage any young person to join [the Defence Forces] with such a poor pension.”
Lieutenant Colonel Derek Priestley, who is deputy general secretary of the officers' representative association, Raco, said it had grave concerns about the number of young officers who are going to quit the Defence Forces prematurely because of the pension.
He said officers who joined up pre-2013 would have 50% of their final salary in their pension.
However, he said actuaries employed by Raco have estimated the post-2013 officers will get about 20%.
Another problem is that officers have to retire at the age of 58, which is much earlier than the majority of the public servants.
“Around 45% of Raco members [1,100 officers] are on post-2013 pensions,” Lieut Col Priestley said.
Raco asked Amarách Research to carry out a survey of these young officers and their views on their future military careers.
The findings were very stark – 80% of them said because of the reduced pension scheme they were on they intended to retire before the mandatory age and seek employment in the private sector.
“We firmly believe there will be an exodus of these members, call it 'Generation Resignation'”, the senior officer added.
He said he believed that when officers reach the age of 35 it will be “the crunch point".
“That will be decision time when they're thinking of families, settling down and getting a mortgage. No matter if any of these young officers were eventually to end up as chief of staff of the Defence Forces they will still be on a far lower percentage rate for their pension,” Lieut Col Priestly said.
Raco wants the Department of Defence to address this issue as a matter of urgency.
The Defence Forces are already short 1,000 personnel and can ill-afford to lose more.