Dáil Éireann - Volume 658 - 02 July, 2008

Written Answers. - Defence Forces Personnel.

Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Defence the percentage of women at all ranks within the Defence Forces; the way that percentage compares to other defence forces in the European Union; if he is satisfied with the number of women in the Defence Forces here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25956/08]

  Deputy Willie O’Dea: The Government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities. Female strength in the Permanent Defence Force has increased from 468 at the end of 2001 to 564 at the end of June 2008. This equates to a rise from 4.38% to 5.44% in overall strength in the same period. A detailed breakdown of the numbers of females serving in the Permanent Defence Force and the percentage at all ranks, as at 30 June 2008, is presented in the following Tabular Statement. Neither the Defence Forces nor my Department maintain comparative data regarding other armies within the EU.

Unlike many other national armed forces, the Defence Forces have no restrictions as regards the assignment of men or women to the full range of operational and administrative duties. All promotions and career courses are open to both genders on merit. Nevertheless, I remain anxious to explore all avenues for increasing the numbers of women joining the Defence Forces. In 2006, I reduced the minimum height requirement from 5’ 4” to 5’ 2”. This increases the potential recruitment pool of females from 60% to 90% of female population.

In 2007, I received the report of a TNS/MRBI study that I had commissioned, titled “Retention and Recruitment of Women in The Defence Forces”. This research was commissioned [526] with a view to identifying areas where action can be taken to maximise the number of women applicants to the Defence Forces, hence increasing the number joining. The question of retention was also studied.

The results of the research were, on balance, positive. Three-quarters of serving females agreed that the Defence Forces are a good place to work. In addition there was a very high level of satisfaction (70%-80%) expressed as regards the issues of job security, pay and benefits and the variety of work on offer.

The recommendations of the report have been implemented and the challenges identified therein continue to be addressed.

Female PDF Strength as at 30 June 2008

Service

Lt.Col.

Comdt.

Capt.

Lt.

Total Officers

CS

CQMS

Sgt.

Cpl.

Total NCOs

Pte.

Cadet

Total

Army

1

20

42

47

110

3

1

28

105

137

207

8

462

Air Corps

Nil

Nil

3

2

5

1

Nil

2

10

13

14

1

33

Naval Service

Nil

2

8

8

18

Nil

Nil

Nil

6

6

39

6

69

Total

1

22

53

57

133

4

1

30

121

156

260

15

564

No. of Females as % of Total

0.64%

5.61%

15.68%

13.83%

9.82%

1.57%

0.35%

2.13%

6.79%

4.09%

5.10%

20%

5.44%

Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 90.