More than 760 members of the Defense Forces have personally paid to be released from the military in the past three years

More than 760 members of the Defense Forces have personally paid to be removed from their posts in the past three years.

The ex-soldiers paid more than €287,000 in total to the Defense Forces so that they could leave the service and return to civilian life.

Release fees vary from just €30 for new recruits up to €6,345 each depending on seniority and the role they have held in the Defense Forces.

Figures released by the military reveal that 142 people had already applied for release from military service by purchase by the end of July this year.

In 2020, the numbers were slightly lower than normal with 259 personnel purchasing their release from the Defense Forces.

That compared to a total of 367 in 2019, according to records released under FOI by the military.

The army said it collected discharge fees of €68,230 between January and August this year.

This compared to €104,038 throughout last year, and a release purchase fee of €115,706 which was collected from July to December in 2019.

A Defense Force briefing said a flat fee applied to personnel enlisted for release based on rank and the specifics of their case.

They said: ‘Officers’ dismissals are dealt with on a case-by-case basis to determine any remaining commitments they may have against their service.

According to internal guidelines, a member of the Defense Forces can discharge for only €30 within three months of being certified, except in the event of an “emergency period”.

Other applicable fees include up to €6,345 for someone who is enlisted as a technician while other soldiers can pay between €1,265 and €6,345, with fees increasing with seniority.

There is also discretion for part of the fee to be waived if “sufficient cause” can be shown.

However, no reduction may be granted when there are “good reasons to believe that the purpose of the request for discharge is solely to transform the training thus received [in the military] for his personal benefit”.

The PDFORRA representative group has been highly critical of staff retention efforts in the defense forces and the growing exodus of trained military personnel.

Asked about the records, the Defense Forces said they had no comment.

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