Wednesday, 21 February 1996
Dáil Éireann Debate
154. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the number of military personnel currently on career breaks from the Permanent Defence Force; the number of those currently working with the UN; if extensions beyond three years have been given to any soldiers to enable them remain on career breaks; the duration of such extensions; the number granted; and the reason such extensions were granted. [3962/96]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Barrett): At present a total of 18 officers are on career breaks from the Permanent Defence Force for periods of up to three years. Fifty enlisted personnel are on special leave without pay and allowances. Twenty of the latter group are serving either with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or the UN Field Service. Five personnel have been granted periods of special leave without pay and allowances in excess of three years, four for a total of four years each and one for a period of three years and seven months. Two of the personnel were granted the additional leave in order to complete full-time education courses. The remaining three personnel were granted the extra periods of leave because of the exceptional circumstances that pertained in each case.
155. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the duration and conditions for career breaks applicable to permanent members of the Defence Forces; the way in which these conditions compare with those of civil servants; and the reason military personnel should be treated differently to other civil servants. [3963/96]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Barrett): The terms of career break schemes for members of the Permanent Defence Force were agreed with both RACO and PDFORRA under the provisions of the conciliation and arbitration scheme for the Permanent Defence Force. These are broadly similar to those which apply to the public service as a whole. However, in the case of PDF personnel, the maximum duration of a career break is three years rather than five years.  Such a term is considered to be the longest after which personnel could return to PDF service with a realistic hope of promotion and advancement, given the loss of seniority and service experience associated with a lengthy break in service. Furthermore, as it is necessary to realise a return on the investment in service training and military education, it is only in exceptional circumstances that career breaks are granted to PDF personnel who have completed less than 12 years' service in the case of officers, six years' service in the case of general service enlisted personnel and nine years' service in the case of technicians trained at the Army and Air Corps Apprentice Schools.
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