Category Archives: News

2020 General Election

Introduction

The General Election on Saturday, 08 February provides ARCO with ample opportunities:

  • To inform election candidates of the absolute need to promote the rights, interests, quality of life, services, and welfare of retired officers, and eligible spouses or civil partners, and
  • To advocate for the Defence Forces, including its personnel, its veterans, and the families of serving personnel.

 

Key Lobbying Issues – Manifestos – Programme for Incoming Government

Considering ARCO’s aim and objectives, the Executive Committee will take cognisance of the Manifestos and Commitments of all Political Parties, Political Alliances, and Independents participating in this election, and, in particular, the Programme for the incoming Government.

Accordingly, during the election campaign, ARCO’s members should focus on the following issues:

  • Pensions: Repeal of FEMPI, Statutory based Pension Parity, Negotiation Rights for Pensioners, Application of Increase in MSA for Military Pensions in Payment.
  • Defence: Veterans’ Policy, Establishment of an independent, statutory based, and permanent Commission on Defence.
  • Welfare: Fair Deal, Medical Card, Household Package.

 

Independent Candidate – Kildare South Constituency

Commandant Cathal Berry (Retd) is running as an Independent candidate in the Kildare South Constituency.  “Defence Forces Families” is one of Cathal’s election priorities, reflecting the views of the extended Defence Forces Community, including ARCO.   As a former Defence Forces colleague, and as a member of ARCO, the Executive Committee welcomes Cathal’s decision to put himself before the electorate, and wishes him well.

In the above circumstances, in solidarity with serving personnel and their respective families, the Executive Committee recommends that ARCO’s membership actively supports, as appropriate, Cathal’s candidacy as an Independent for Dáil Éireann.

A member of the 72 Cadet Class, on commissioning in 1997, Cathal was appointed to the Infantry Corps.  His service included postings in the 5 Infantry Battalion, Cadet School, Army Ranger Wing and in the Medical Corps.  Overseas service included tours of duty in the Balkans, Lebanon and Chad.

For more information, please visit Cathal’s website:  www.cathalberry.ie

You may download a PDF copy of this notification here.

Executive Committee – 16 January 2020

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Defence Forces Year in Review 2019

Happy New Year to all members of ARCO and to the wider Defence Forces Community.

The Defence Forces have complied a comprehensive end of year review of their Operational, Training and Educational Activities for 2019, both at home and overseas.

To download the Review, circulated by the Defence Forces Press Officer, please click here.

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ARCO’s Christmas Greetings

ARCO’s Officers and Executive Committee extend Christmas Greetings to its members, to their extended families, and to those who supported the Association in the advancement of its objectives during 2019.  

Le gach dea-ghuí don Nollaig agus don Athbhliain

 With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year

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White Paper Three Yearly Update – December 2019

ARCO’s submission in October 2013 informed the consultation process during the elaboration of the White Paper on Defence.  ARCO actively participated in a symposium hosted by the Minister for Defence in May 2015.

The White Paper on Defence was approved by Government in July 2015.  Paragraph 7.7 of the White Paper on Defence includes the following statement: “there is scope during the currency of the White Paper to further develop the supports available to existing personnel and veterans.”

ARCO remains proactive in ensuring the implementation of the Government’s policy on veterans’ affairs, in particular the White Paper projects 51 and 59.

In order to provide momentum in advancing this process, on 05 December 2018, ARCO, IUNVA and ONE formally submitted a Combined Veterans’ Strategy to the Minister with responsibility for Defence.

In addition to pension related issues, ARCO has strongly recommended the implementation of one of the key recommendations of the Combined Veterans’ Strategy namely the establishment of a joint Office for Veterans’ Affairs, consisting of personnel from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces.

ARCO continues to advocate the absolute requirement to articulate and institutionalise an inclusive and comprehensive Government’s Veterans’ Policy.  

The White Paper on Defence 2015 provides for a three yearly cycle of reviews.

Following Government approval, on 12 December, the Minister with responsibility for Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe TD, has published the first of these reviews titled White Paper on Defence – Update 2019.  Section 5.9 (page 63 of 122) relates to veterans.

Since the publication of the White Paper in 2015, a total of 95 separate projects have been identified for completion over a ten-year period, 42 of which have been initiated and 15 have been closed, vide Annex C of the Review.   

The Review can be downloaded here.

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NFPA Demonstration – 01 October

 

Established in 1976, the National Federation of Pensioners Associations (NFPA) has twenty Pensioners Associations, including ARCO, currently affiliated to it. These represent in the region of 29,000 pensioners. The Federation includes Pensioners from the Public Service, Semi-State Bodies and from Private Industry.

NFPA aims to protect and promote the interests of pensioners and retired persons.

The NFPA is holding a demonstration at 1300hrs on Tuesday 01 October, outside Dáil Éireann, seeking “Arbitration, Representation and a Commissioner for Older People”. 

Members of ARCO wishing to participate are advised that assembly is at 1230hrs on Molseworth Street.

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Defence Forces Values Awards

 

At a ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin, on 11 September, President Michael D. Higgins presented the Defence Forces Values Awards. The awards are given to serving or retired Defence Forces personnel whose conduct exemplifies the standards of respect, loyalty, selflessness, physical courage, moral courage and integrity expected of members of the Defence Forces.

To read the speech delivered by President Higgins at the ceremony, please follow this LINK.

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Respect and Loyalty Parade Galway, 10 August 2019

Following the dignified Respect and Loyalty Parades in both Dublin and Cork, a similar parade is taking place in Galway on Saturday, 10 August 2019. 

According to the organisers, the key objective of the parade is to publicly highlight the unsatisfactory pay, and service conditions, pertaining to personnel of the Defence Forces.  

In the context of this key objective, as retired commissioned officers, in solidarity with serving commissioned officers, enlisted personnel, and their respective families, and acknowledging the endeavours of the General Staff along with the Representative Associations RACO and PDFORRA, the Executive Committee advises ARCO’s membership to actively support the Respect and Loyalty Parade in Galway.

Assembling at the Spanish Arch at 1130hrs, the parade will advance to Eyre Square, where it will be addressed by speakers including Commandant Cathal Berry (Retd).   

ARCO’s Previous Statements

On 16 September 2018, ARCO released a Statement of Concern on the serious deterioration of the service conditions, and the depletion of strategic defence capabilities in the Defence Forces. Link to Statement

On 29 April 2019, ARCO released another statement in the context of the Respect and Loyalty Parade, which took place on 04 May, in Cork. Link to Statement

On 10 July, 2019, arising from the Public Sector Pay Commission’s Report and the associated Government’s Implementation Plan, ARCO called on the Minister for Defence to present formal proposals to Government establishing without delay, a statutory based, permanent and independent Defence Forces Commission, in order to address remuneration (including pensions), service and retention conditions, and the conciliation and arbitration architecture. Link to Statement

The three statements are posted on the Association’s website: www.iarco.info

Executive Committee

01 August 2019

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STATEMENT FROM ARCO

 

ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED COMMISSIONED OFFICERS

STATEMENT – 10 JULY 2019

REQUIREMENT FOR A STATUTORY DEFENCE FORCES COMMISSION

This statement from the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (ARCO) is issued in solidarity with Óglaigh na hÉireann, its serving personnel and their families. 

In light of the prevailing remuneration, the service conditions, well-being and work-life balance experienced by serving personnel and their families, coupled with the status of the Defence Forces as an unique institution of State, ARCO now urges the Minister for Defence to present formal proposals to Government, establishing without delay a statutory based, permanent and independent Defence Forces Commission to address remuneration (including pensions), service and retention conditions, and the conciliation and arbitration architecture.

ARCO salutes all personnel of the Defence Forces, together with their families, who by applying values of Respect, Loyalty, Selflessness, Courage and Integrity, while serving the citizens of Ireland, continue to successfully execute the defence and security roles assigned by the Government, both at home and overseas. 

ARCO, whose membership reflects a significant reservoir of experience and expertise within the realm of defence, contends that the prevailing inability to retain serving personnel, even in the context of a buoyant economy, is destabilising leadership at unit level, is purging corporate military knowledge, is increasing operational and training risks, is impacting negatively on morale, esprit de corps and well-being, is reducing manning levels, resulting in the unprecedented decline of deployable land, air, maritime and cyber capabilities, thus leaving the State, its institutions and citizens, vulnerable in maintaining a stable environment for economic development, and in addressing the threat landscape.

Notwithstanding the Government’s endorsement of the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission and the associated High Level Implementation Plan, ARCO’s previous statements on the grave deterioration of service conditions for personnel of the Defence Forces and their families, and the deployability of strategic and specialised defence capabilities, remain pertinent.  

The Government’s decision arising from the Public Sector Pay Commission’s Report, coupled with the public service pay restoration process, fail to adequately address the adverse effects of the inadequate remuneration and poor service conditions accruing to our colleagues in Óglaigh na hÉireann. 

In reality, the Government’s limited financial package focuses on the restoration of allowances reduced consequent to the Haddington Road Agreement of 2013 and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009 – 2015.  ARCO notes that the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 already provides for the restoration of the majority of these allowances on 1st October 2020.  The disappointing increase in the Military Service Allowance will have only a marginal effect, if any, on the declining living standards, work-life balance and welfare values endured by serving personnel and their families.

Notwithstanding the reintroduction of the Service Commitment Scheme for Air Corps Flying Officers, ARCO remains deeply concerned with the retention challenges across all ranks in the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. 

82% of the 3,400 personnel exiting the Defence Forces during the period 2014 to 2018 were of a voluntary nature, this trend continues.  Of particular concern to ARCO, is that the unacceptable turnover rate for the Army moved from 4.92% in 2014 to 7.27% in 2018, the Air Corps turnover rate moved from 4.24% in 2013 to 8.14% in 2018, and the Naval Service turnover rate moved from 7.23% in 2013 to 14.81% in 2018.  This alarming trend continues in 2019.  The critical turnover rate identified by the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom is 5%.

ARCO notes the release of the Government’s High Level Implementation Plan.  Phase 1 must bring closure to the recommendations contained in the Public Sector Pay Commission’s report.   ARCO asserts that the timely conclusion of Phase 2, which examines core pay, is key to resolving the recruitment and retention challenges in the Defence Forces. 

In summary, in order to address the serious retention and remuneration issues that are undermining the Defence Forces capability development and operational readiness, coupled with the weakening morale, well-being and work-life balance of its personnel and their families, ARCO now calls on the Minister for Defence to present formal proposals to Government establishing without delay, a statutory based, permanent and independent Defence Forces Commission.

ARCO’s Previous Statements

On 16 September 2018, ARCO released a Statement of Concern on the serious deterioration of the service conditions, and the depletion of strategic defence capabilities in the Defence Forces. 

On 29 April 2019, ARCO released another statement in the context of the Respect and Loyalty Parade, which took place on 04 May, in Cork.   

Both statements are posted on the Association’s website: www.iarco.info

For information: the Report of the Public Service Pay Commission: Recruitment and Retention in the Permanent Defence Force May 2019 may be viewed HERE; the Government’s Plan: Strengthening Our Defence Forces – Phase 1, may be viewed HERE; and a downloadable copy of the ARCO Statement may be viewed HERE.

Executive Committee

10 July 2019

ONE Annual Fuchsia Appeal

 

On Thursday 27 June 2019, at 12 Noon, ONE (The Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel/Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann) launches its annual Fuchsia Appeal at the National Memorial in Merrion Square West. 

The Appeal helps to fund ONE hostels for homeless veterans, to put in place preventative measures to avert homelessness, and the provision of other support services for veterans of the Defence Forces.

The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, will launch the Appeal.

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Defence Forces Veterans Day, 11 May 2019

The Executive Committee of ARCO has accepted an invitation on behalf of its members from the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, DSM to attend the 2019 Defence Forces Veterans Day.  This will be held in the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Benburb Street, Dublin 7 on Saturday, 11th May at 1200 hours.

A representative group from each of the three national organisations (ARCO, ONET and IUNVA) will parade on Clarke Square to be reviewed by the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, TD.

Veterans’ Day reaches out to honour retired members of the Defence Forces and all Veterans have been invited. A post-event reception will be hosted in Collins Barracks.

The Executive Committee encourages ARCO members to attend this event and to wear their medals.

Members are requested to participate in the ceremony and are asked to report to Clarke Square by 1100 hours.

Members who are not parading for the ceremony should be seated by 1145 hours.

We look forward to seeing you in Collins Barracks on the day.

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Association of Retired Commissioned Officers