Thursday, 15 May 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
23. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Defence the steps being taken to facilitate the commissioning of more NCOs in the Defence Forces as officers, especially having regard to the Feely report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13101/03]
Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The position on this matter has not changed since I replied to this question six weeks ago. A total of 31 non-commissioned officers have been commissioned as officers in the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service in the past five years.
Potential officers courses (POC) are held for non-commissioned personnel from time to time within the Defence Forces. Personnel who successfully complete such courses are commissioned as officers in the Permanent Defence Force. Participants on such courses are selected on a competitive basis. In addition, from time to time non-commissioned personnel who hold appropriate qualifications are commissioned to fill specialist appointments where vacancies arise. Eligible non-commissioned personnel may also apply for the annual cadetship competitions. The requirement for potential officer courses and commissioning from the ranks (CFR) competitions is reviewed from time to time and is being specifically addressed in the context of the integrated personnel management system (or IPMS) which is one of the major policy initiatives provided for in the White Paper on Defence. The IPMS will make specific and ongoing provision for the introduction of regular schemes to commission enlisted personnel as officers in the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. A proposed IPMS has been prepared by the military authorities and is now being considered by the Department's civil-military strategic management committee. I hope to see the IPMS finalised later this year.
Draft conditions governing the appointment of enlisted personnel of the Permanent Defence Force to be officers of the Naval Service are  under discussion with the representative associations. As the discussions with the representative associations are ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment on any of the specifics of the proposed draft conditions. However, it is the intention that a potential officers course will be run as soon as these discussions are completed.
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