Category Archives: News

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.

Category: Events, News | Tags: ,

Respect and Loyalty Parade Cork, 4 May 2019

In September 2018, the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (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 of Concern.

ARCO’s stated position on these significant issues remains relevant.  Of particular concern to ARCO, is the inordinate delay in addressing the adverse effects of inadequate remuneration accruing to our serving colleagues in Óglaigh na hÉireann. 

In addition, ARCO remains deeply concerned with the manner in which the retention challenges, across all ranks, within the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, are being addressed.  

Likewise, ARCO is fully aware of the deteriorating living and welfare standards endured by families of serving personnel, dependent spouses and children, and, in some cases, retired single personnel.

Following the dignified September Respect and Loyalty Parade, a similar parade is taking place in Cork, on Saturday, 4th May, 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 the above 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 now encourages ARCO’s membership to actively support the Respect and Loyalty Parade in Cork.

Assembling in the Grand Parade at 1130hrs, the components of the parade are a Colour Party, IUNVA Pipe Band, IUNVA Body, Family Body and Veterans’ Body.  The main elements of the parade include a wreath laying ceremony, a parade through the City, followed by a key note address delivered by Lieutenant-Colonel Dan Harvey (Retd).   

ARCO will revisit its Statement of Concern following the publication of the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission on Defence Forces remuneration.

Executive Committee

29 April 2019

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O.N.E. – Sleeping Flags Appeal

On Monday, 11 February, the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel – Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann) formally launched its Sleeping Flags Appeal, in order to raise public awareness and aid for the homeless Irish Defence Forces veterans. 

The associated campaign involves veterans, in specially-created Tricolour sleeping bags, deployed around the streets of Dublin.

Dubbed ‘Sleeping Flags’, the symbolic act, which challenges protocols around the treatment and representation of the Irish flag, represents both the homeless veterans who died on Dublin’s streets, which was the catalyst for O.N.E. to establish its first homeless hostel, and the reality facing current and future veterans if the charity is unable to keep its doors open.

To date, O.N.E. has helped hundreds of homeless male and female Defence Forces veterans who have served abroad in conflict zones including The Congo, Lebanon, Syria and the Mediterranean, or at home during The Troubles.  Many come to O.N.E. with depression, disabilities, PTSD, or having suffered family breakdowns, with little support to call on.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign Ollie O’Connor, CEO of O.N.E. stated “Our first homeless hostel opened in direct response to a number of veterans dying on the streets of Dublin.  Since then, we’ve helped over 900 homeless veterans from all over Ireland who could have faced the same situation. These Sleeping Flags are bags we never wanted to make, but if we can’t get enough funding, our veterans will end up back on the streets”.

Set against Ireland’s current homelessness crisis, the preventive services O.N.E. offer are more vital than ever, providing over 16,000 bed nights every year, between Dublin, Letterkenny and Athlone, and with 95% of the veterans they help moving on to permanent housing.

The men and women we’re helping have a special affinity with the Tricolour.  These are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and our next door neighbours who joined the Irish Defence Forces to serve their country. When they joined up, they were young fit men and women. They didn’t put up their hands to become homeless veterans.”

For more information on the Sleeping Flags Appeal, or to make a donation to O.N.E. please visit https://sleepingflags.ie/

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ARCO Information Brief – Citizenship of children born abroad to officers serving on official duty overseas

A person is an Irish citizen where they were born abroad to an Irish citizen parent. This is the situation that gives Irish citizenship to those children born abroad to Irish Defence Forces officers on duty overseas.

In circumstances where the parent is also born outside the island of Ireland (e.g. a child born abroad to an officer on duty overseas), then as a consequence of various changes to and revision of legislation, a range of administrative issues arise when an Irish passport is being sought for that parent’s children (i.e. officers’ grandchildren). These issues are outlined and discussed in the following ARCO Information Brief.

In the light of the recent experience of an ARCO member, ARCO strongly recommends that officers, with children born abroad while the officer served on official duty overseas, make themselves aware of the prevailing legislative administrative procedures regarding overseas births.

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PAYE Modernisation Documents

On 29 November, ARCO attended a Revenue Commissioner’s presentation in the Department of Defence, on the new PAYE Modernisation process, which came into effect on 01 January 2019. A document titled PAYE Modernisation was circulated.

The Department of Defence has provided ARCO with an information brief circulated by the National Shared Services Office, titled PAYE Modernisation – Notes for Employees, which may be of some relevance to ARCO’s membership.

Further information on PAYE Modernisation is available on the Revenue website.

Category: News, Pensions | Tags:

Redesigned Website – Department of Defence

Since October 2015, all Defence Forces pensions from the Department of Defence are paid by the Payroll Shared Service Centre (PSSC).  The PSSC is responsible for processing monthly pensions and for making all statutory and voluntary deductions.

Under the tab “What We Do”, the recently redesigned Department of Defence website includes information on pension issues such as:

  • Occupational Pension Benefits including
    • Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure for the Defence Forces Pensions Schemes (August 2018),
    • Limited appeals process for Spouses and Children’s Scheme membership options,
  • Disability Pension Benefits
  • Personal Injuries Compensation Scheme for Personnel of the Reserve Defence Force
  • Defence Forces Superannuation Schemes, Annual Report 2017.

Queries on Defence Forces pensions should, in the first instance be referred to:

  • PSSC Helpdesk, Payroll Shared Service Centre, Áras an tSáile, Renmore, Galway, H91 AN2E.
  • Telephone: 076 1002 702.
  • Email militarypensions@pssc.gov.ie.

Queries on Defence Forces pension terms or entitlements should in the first instance, be referred to:

  • Pensions Administration Section, Finance Branch, Department of Defence, Áras an tSáile, Renmore, Galway, H91 AN2E.
  • Telephone: 091 743 900, or Lo-Call 1890-426444 (extension 3900).
  • Email admin@defence.ie

While we are on the subject of pensions, the following is a link to Circular 02/2018, issued to all Government Departments and Public Service Employers by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which lays down pension increase policy in the public service until the end of 2020. We are also including a link to the Memorandum on the subject issued by Finance Branch of the Department of Defence.

Category: News, Pensions | Tags: ,

Statement from ARCO

Statement of Concern from the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (ARCO) on the serious deterioration of conditions of service and the depletion of strategic defence capabilities in the Defence Forces.

The Association of Retired Commissioned Officers feels obliged to express its deep concern at the progressive deterioration of the conditions of service of members of the Defence Forces, and its dramatic impact on depleting the strategic capabilities required to deliver the Government’s taskings, in the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service.

The Permanent Defence Force is currently struggling to cope with the continuous exodus of trained and experienced personnel of all ranks. The resulting depletion of leadership echelons and corporate military knowledge, is leading to a further strategic deterioration of defence capabilities, caused by the inability to retain personnel across all ranks having the necessary skills and competencies, and the challenges encountered with attracting appropriate personnel to the Defence Forces.

It is regrettable that the loyalty, commitment, contribution and immense personal sacrifices made by personnel in implementing the strategic downsizing and reorganization of the Defence Forces, is undermined and negated by the lack of meaningful Government action in providing appropriate remuneration and enduring conditions of service for personnel of Óglaigh na hÉireann.

For many who served in the years that led to the establishment of the Gleeson Commission, it is extraordinary that we are witnessing a return to a similar set of circumstances by way of active protest undertaken by retired personnel, and the families of serving personnel, highlighting unsatisfactory Defence Forces remuneration and conditions of service.

ARCO calls on the Government to ensure there is a meaningful engagement between the Department of Defence, the Military Authorities and Representative Associations to identify and develop policies that will address, without delay, the serious retention and remuneration issues that are undermining the Defence Forces operational readiness, coupled with the morale and well-being of its personnel.

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Association of Retired Commissioned Officers