Dáil Éireann - Volume 411 - 31 October, 1991

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Army-Naval Service Cadet Recruitment.

13. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Defence if he has satisfied himself with the response to recruitment campaigns for cadets in the Army and Naval Service; if, in view of the reportedly poor response, he intends to review recruitment procedures; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Daly: The number of applications for Army and Naval Services cadetships in 1991 was higher than in each of the previous two years. I think the point the Deputy was making in his question was that for some reason there was no interest in Army cadetships. I should say that we have more applications than we can [2277] handle. I can give the Deputy the exact figures. In 1988, for example, there were 1,017 applications for cadetships whereas in 1991 we had 1,213 applications for 30 places.

Mr. Byrne: The question attempts to address the recruitment policy of the Naval Service and the Army. There are reports of huge disappointment due to the lack of response to the recruitment campaign. Despite 12 vacancies for cadets in the Naval Service, they failed to find a single suitable applicant. Similar difficulties were experienced in regard to Army cadets. There are reports that military people are extremely disappointed and worried that the image of both the Army and the Naval Service is poor compared with the image of the Garda Síochána. That problem must be addressed very quickly if they are to attract the right people to both services.

Mr. Daly: The question was whether I was satisfied with the response to the campaign. For the 30 vacancies in the Army this year we had 1,213 applications. There were ten vacancies in the Naval Service, for which there were 417 applications. Last year we had 309 applications. The number of inquiries is going up rather than down.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I put it to the Minister that the problem relates not so much to a poor image as to the restriction on filling vacancies. The vacancies are not being filled because of lack of finance and lack of support rather than lack of interest. A restriction on filling vacancies has been imposed by the Chief of Staff and by the Department.

Mr. Daly: A total of 40 cadetships have been awarded in 1991, which is broadly in line with the number of awards in the past few years. Thirty cadets were recruited to the Army, including six females, and ten to the Navel Service. No competition for Air Corps cadetships was held in 1991 because it is proposed to hold a competition in 1992 under revised conditions. It is hoped that the Air Corps [2278] cadets will commence training at the same time as if they had been taken in this year. If the Deputy requires any further details, I will be able to supply them.

Mr. Byrne: How can the Minister tell me that he is happy with recruitment to the Army and Naval Service? The figures speak for themselves. Last year 1,200 young people responded to advertisements for cadetships in the Army; that represents a 33 per cent drop over the previous year. We must compare that with the number of applicants to join the Garda Síochána. For 1,000 places in the Garda Síochána there were 22,000 applicants. The country is riddled with unemployment. Thousands of skilled personnel are drawing the dole who could be employed by the Army but they still find it unattractive. Will the Minister elaborate on why he thinks the response is so low?

Mr. Daly: The response is upwards. The Deputy seems to have the wrong figures. This year we had 1,213 applications for 30 positions as Army cadets. Last year we had 909 applications. I have to be satisfied with that response.