The President appoints Irish citizens and other persons approved by the Minister as officers of the Defence Forces to the commissioned ranks.  Persons may be appointed from cadet training (the majority) or  those in the enlisted ranks after competing an officer training course.  Certain direct entry officers who have specialist qualifications such as in music, medicine, dentistry and other technical officers may be appointed directly.

The commission is held from the president.  An officer is commissioned for an indefinite period or until he reaches retirement age in the relevant regulations for the rank subject to physical and mental capacity.  However, the fact that the appointment is without  limitation of time does not mean that it cannot be terminated, although it would generally not be terminated without good reason.

An officer may resign his commission.  This is effective, only once accepted.  Permission may be required to retire, if the officer wishes to avail of certain lump-sum, gratuity and pension and benefits.

In some cases, where special training is involved, the officer may be obliged to undertake to refund the Department part of the expense concerned in the event of premature resignation or retirement.  This would be capable of being discharged monetarily.  Where training is required under lawful order, the view is taken that it would be improper to require refund as this would amount compulsory military service.

A person may qualify to be cadet if he

  • is  born in Ireland or the child of a person born in Ireland
  • is a citizen or a child of an Irish citizen
  • satisfies requirements in relation to education, age and physical standards
  • satisfies character requirements

Cadet applicants are interviewed by a interview board examined by a medical board and subject to further rounds of interview. The Minister awards cadetships which require prescribed courses of training. Cadets are enlisted as private soldiers for general service while training.  .

The cadetship may be withdrawn on request on

  • failure of medical examination,
  • unsatisfactory conduct,
  • failure to complete training
  • failure to show satisfactory progress or develop the requisite skills.

Where the cadet cannot complete training within the requisite period an extension may be granted. Upon withdrawal, the cadet may revert to his pre-existing position or be discharged. Cadets are required to undertake in the event of resignation or retirement within a specified period to refund cost.

Upon completion of training, and passing medical standards, the cadet on may be nominated to be an officer at the rank of second lieutenant or ensign in the  naval service.  Nomination is conditional upon satisfactory service during the cadetship and being recommended by the Chief of Staff as suitable for appointment.

There are number of mechanisms by which enlisted personnel may be commissioned.  They may apply through the cadetships system.  Alternatively, they may be selected as for a potential officers course and commissioned from it.

Persons eligible to be appointed as officers of the Defence Forces may be appointed by the president as officers of the Reserve Defence Forces.  Persons appointed are assigned to particular classes.

Officers of the Permanent Defence Forces may on leaving apply to be officers of the reserve of officer\’s first line.  Non-commissioned officers of the reserve of men with good character and satisfactory education, and who show exceptional keenness and efficiency are eligible to be nominated as officers of the Reserve Defence Forces to be assigned to the reserve of officers. Certain persons with third level of other special qualifications may be nominated for appointment as an officer of the Reserve Defence Forces subject to compliance with age and other criteria.

The major military officers of state are appointed by on the government\’s advice by the President. Officers may be promoted by the Minister for Defence on receipt of recommendations by the Chief of Staff or promotion boards.  Promotion boards may hold competitions.

The Chief of Staff makes promotions up to the rank of captain, with the applications considered by a promotion board. There are a number of classes of promotion board dealing with promotions to the higher levels of the army. There are formalities associated with the organisation procedures and recommendations of the promotion board. The system of promotions has been revised.

The President may retire officers for reasons including medical grounds, conduct, inefficiency and the interests of the service.  The reasons for the proposed retirement must be communicated and he must be given an opportunity to make representations.  Basic constitutional justice applies.  This is more important where the grounds are discreditable.

There are retirement ages which are relatively low, referable to particular ranks. The Minister may extend the applicable position. The retirement ages increase in accordance with the higher ranks. Certain officers may be appointed for a fixed, period so that their office expires.

Officers may retire with the permission of the Minister for Defence. If they are subject to an undertaking to refund expenses, they are obliged to repay those sums as a condition of retirement.  Officers against whom misconduct charges are pending may not be permitted to retire until the case has concluded.

A resignation may be accepted or declined.

The President may dismiss an officer following due process.


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