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Displaying items by tag: Defence Forces

The role of Ireland in overseas peacekeeping missions could well be enhanced when Defence Forces numbers are back up to the minimum establishment strength of 9,500.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has revealed he's in favour of the Naval Service mounting further overseas missions such as joining an anti-piracy task force off the Horn of Africa, or on migrant rescue operations like previous ones carried out in the Mediterranean Sea.

He revealed that in 2015 plans were being drawn up to send a navy ship to the waters off the Horn of Africa to thwart raids on international commercial shipping by Somali pirates.

Mr Coveney said deployment was being looked at when the migrant crisis started to unfold off the coast of Libya.

More on this story writes Irish Examiner here which previously on Sunday reported the manpower crisis in the Naval Service which could see two more ships tied up by the end of the year.

Afloat adds that if that scenario arose the number of operational patrol vessels in the naval fleet would be reduced by almost half, from a total of 9 down to four ships. So far the flagship HPV LÉ Eithne along with CPV LÉ Orla has been tied up since last year at the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island, Cork Harbour.

During the height of the Covid-19 crisis, the flagship was temporarily drafted back into service to assist the HSE when berthed at Cork City.  

Published in Navy

The representative body of Irish Defence Forces Officer grades has warned that if immediate, significant retention initiatives are not implemented, the forces will not only never return to its target strength of 9,500, but will continue to decline.

As RTE reports, the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) issued the warning in a briefing document for Oireachtas members.

RACO focuses on the staff recruitment and retention crisis in the Defence Forces, noting that despite Government commitments to boost numbers, they have fallen to an all-time low of 8,485 due to an "unsustainably high" staff turnover rate of 10.5% last year.

At the end of April, the Army had 6,867 members, the Naval Service had 892, while the Air Corps had 726.

In 2019, 870 Defence Forces members left the service, while 605 joined - a net loss of 265.

There are currently 1,015 vacancies, up from 327 at the end of 2017

In addition RACO highlights the impact of Covid-19 restrictions which will exasperate matters and more can be read here

Published in Navy

Ministers reports The Irish Examiner, have described comments by President Michael D Higgins that members of the Defence Forces should have sufficient incomes as “deeply unhelpful”.

Mr Higgins’s comments on Wednesday night caused widespread surprise, anger, and bemusement in Government circles yesterday over what was seen as “interference” in political matters.

As Fine Gael ministers, TDs, senators, and MEPs gathered in Garryvoe, east Cork, for their party’s think-in ahead of the Dáil’s return, Mr Higgins’s comments were widely commented upon.

“Of course they were deeply unhelpful,” one senior minister said. “We are trying to hold a public pay deal together with sticky tape and Blu-Tack. This will only heighten the pressure on us to loosen the purse strings even further.”

Speaking publicly, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed hit a most undiplomatic tone, saying he found the President’s decision to comment “quite unusual”.

The newspaper has more here on this ongoing issue. 

Published in Navy

In an announced from the Government an action plan to deliver a €10 million package to restore pay to members of the Defence Forces.

As RTE reports, the Government said the package will immediately improve the take-home pay of members of the Defence Forces.

Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said work on the high-level plan to implement the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission would begin immediately.

He said the Government was committed to making steady improvements in pay to public servants but only to the extent that they are affordable and sustainable.

Minister of State with responsibility for the Defence Forces Paul Kehoe said the package was recognition by the Government of the challenges of recruitment and retention within the army, navy and air corps.

For more from the launch by the Minister of the new package click this link

Published in Navy

It is expected that the Government will announce a new review of pay for up to 2,500 members of the Defence Forces with specialist or technical skills.

The move, writes The Irish Times, will be in addition to the proposed increase in allowances which the Government is set to announce this week as part of an initiative to address recruitment and retention problems in the military.

Ministers are expected to say that the review of military specialists’ pay could be completed within months.

Among those likely to be encompassed by such a review would be cooks, mechanics, technicians, fitters, carpenters, aircraft mechanics, military police investigators and air-traffic controllers.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is to bring proposals to the Cabinet for pay improvements for members of the Defence Forces based on the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission.

The Government is expected to announce a new review of pay for up to 2,500 members of the Defence Forces with specialist or technical skills.

The move will be in addition to the proposed increase in allowances which the Government is set to announce this week as part of an initiative to address recruitment and retention problems in the military.

Ministers are expected to say that the review of military specialists’ pay could be completed within months.

Among those likely to be encompassed by such a review would be cooks, mechanics, technicians, fitters, carpenters, aircraft mechanics, military police investigators and air-traffic controllers.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is to bring proposals to the Cabinet for pay improvements for members of the Defence Forces based on the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission.

The €10.1 million package of measures will centre on increases in allowances paid to members of the Defence Forces rather than rises in core pay.

Military service allowances, which currently range from €42 to €123 per week, would be raised by 10 per cent as part of a move to improve recruitment and retention of personnel under consideration by the Government.

Reductions in other allowances imposed in 2013 are also expected to be reversed as part of the package.

The patrol duty allowance of €48 per day for Naval Service personnel at sea would also be increased by about €5 under the proposals.

In addition, a loyalty bonus – which could be up to €19,000 – is expected to be put in place to encourage pilots to remain in the Defence Forces.

If approved by the Government, the increased allowances would come into effect immediately.

For more on the story including non-pay initiatives click here. 

In addition as previously featured Naval Patrol vessels including flagship LE. Eithne to be docked out of service due to staff shortage. 

Published in Navy

The Defence Forces are currently conducting surface live firing practice shoots off West Cork, as per Marine Notice No 12 of 2019.

The practice shoots from today, Tuesday 28 May, to Thursday 30 May are taking place in Danger Area D13, in the coastal area south-south-west of Cork between Seven Heads and Galley Head and to seaward from 8am to 5pm daily.

The Danger Area comprises the sea area contained within the co-ordinates. The co-ordinates of area D13 are as follows:

LatitudeLongitude
51° 34.12’N 008°42.36’W
51°20.12’N 008°34.36’W
51°17.36’N 008°48.48’W
51°31.42’N 008°57.06’W

For the periods while the range is active, this sea area is out of bounds to all vessels. A Naval Service patrol vessel will enforce the Danger Area D13.

All vessels are advised that they are required to remain outside of the exclusion zone whilst the range is active, and are also recommended to carefully monitor the Radio Navigation Warnings that will be broadcast during the firing period.

Published in Marine Warning

#navy - Irish Government must address the crisis in the Defence Forces which has now reached the point where its effectiveness is so broken that it can no longer guarantee the security of the State and its citizens, a protest march by former members of the Defence Forces has heard.

Almost 1,500 former members of the Defence Forces, writes The Irish Times, from the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service marched in the second Respect and Loyalty Parade through Cork city to highlight poor pay and conditions.

Parade organisers said 166 personnel left the Defence Forces in the first three months of 2019, while a high-profile recruitment campaign last year led to a net gain of just three and the overall number in the Defence Forces now stands at around 8,500, 1,000 less than the recommended minimum number of 9,500.

Retired Lt Col Dan Harvey addressed a rally in the Grand Parade, saying that it was a sad day when retired members of the Defence Forces felt they had to march to highlight the situation in which their currently serving comrades find themselves.

For further comments made by the retired colonel and more click here.

Published in Navy

#navy - The Irish Times writes that it is the breaking down of barriers which is central to what Mark Mellett sees as his role as Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.

The obstacles are within the Defence Forces itself and between them and the outside world.

He believes that the way to penetrate these resistant mindsets is through strategic and mutually beneficial engagement with academe and the private sector, on the one hand, and also by the Defence Forces participating – in keeping with government-determined policy – in military initiatives further afield.

Having risen through the ranks of the Naval Service to senior command and taken part in several high-profile operations (including recovery work in the wake of the Whiddy Island oil ship explosion disaster and Air India jet crash off the west coast), Vice-Admiral Mellett, who has a doctorate in political science, began to think more than a decade ago about leadership on a larger playing field.

To read more comments from the Chief of Staff click here.

Published in Navy

#NavalService - Organisation that represents Defence Forces officers says it doesn’t have confidence that the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) will deliver much-needed pay increases for lowly-paid sailors, soldiers, and aircrews.

As the Irish Examiner writes, the warning from Raco (Representative Association for Commissioned Officers) comes after many hard-pressed Defence Forces families were forced to rely on charitable donations of food hampers to get them over the Christmas period.

Raco general secretary, Commandant Conor King, said little had changed for the lowest paid public servants since Nasa (National Association of Army Spouses) took to the streets 30 years ago to highlight the deplorable pay and conditions endured by military personnel.

Comdt King said Nasa’s actions gave birth to the founding of his own military representative association and that of sister organisation PDForra, which represents enlisted personnel.

He said the recent Respect and Loyalty parade outside the Dáil, organised by veterans, and the founding of the lobby group Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces (WPDF) showed that little had changed since 1998.

Click the link here for further reading on the story.

Published in Navy
Tagged under

#NavalService - The Irish Times writes that the head of Defence Forces has sought to make a verbal submission to the Public Sector Pay Commission because of the seriousness of the military pay issue in the view of himself and senior colleagues.

Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Vice Admiral Mark Mellett declined to use the word “crisis” saying he preferred to say the military was facing serious “challenges”.

He was speaking on Tuesday before addressing the annual conference of PDforra, the Defence Forces’ rank-and-file representative body, in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

His remarks came in the wake of two Naval Service vessels being unable to put to sea last week (see Afloat's related coverage) because of crew shortages, and reservists being used to fill crew gaps on another vessel.

The problems prompted Vice Admiral Mellett and his assistant Chief of Staff, Brig Gen Peter O’Halloran, to hold emergency talks last Friday with the Naval Service Flag Officer Commanding, Cdr Mick Malone. For much more from the newspaper click here. 

Also the story appears in The Irish Mirror which adds that morale is at an all-time low in the Naval Service with 66 sailors staying on board their ships because they can’t afford high rental prices.

The revelation was made by Mark Keane, president of PDFORRA, the organisation that represents members of the Defence Forces. Mr Keane lifted the lid on the discontent in the ranks at the naval base on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour.

For further reading including comments made by the president also speaking at the conference held in Mayo, click here. 

Published in Navy
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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