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General Questions

General Questions on the Defence Forces

What is the difference between enlisting as an Officer Cadet, an Apprentice or General Service?

Cadet - on qualification these individuals become Officers of the Defence Forces.

Apprentice - on qualification these individuals are fully accredited tradespersons who are deployed in the various technical Corps of the Defence Forces.

General Service - on qualification these individuals serve as Soldiers, Sailors or Airmen.

I have a criminal record. Can I join the Defence Forces?

The Defence Forces has a high dependence on trust and looks for individuals who are trustworthy and reliable. For this reason, all applicants undergo security vetting by An Garda Sí­ochána, and any convictions are assessed on the severity of the offence.

What will my everyday life in the Defence Forces be like?

One of the key things about life in the Army is that your job will vary and you'll be doing many different things. While you are on a base, your job is pretty much like any other 9 to 5 job. But you'll also spend time away from the base, training either elsewhere in Ireland or deployed overseas.

Will I be able to stay in touch with family and friends while completing my initial training course?

While you're undertaking your training, you will be given plenty of time to remain in contact with family and friends.

How long can I stay in the Defence Forces?

For those enlisted for General Service, you can initially serve for a period of five (5) years. For those enlisted under the Cadetship and Apprentice schemes, you can serve for twelve years (12). These periods of service are dependent on you passing your initial training course, maintain your medical grading and service efficiency.

I play sport at a competitive level. Can I keep playing while in the Army?

If you're playing top-level sports of any kind, the Defence Forces will ensure, where possible, you get the opportunity to compete. The Defence Forces has sportsmen and women who compete at national and international, as well as fulfilling their regular duties

What are my leave entitlements?

General Service personnel and Apprentices:
This group of personnel are entitled to 28 days annual leave.

Officers and Officer Cadets:
Annual leave to the extent of 31 days may be granted to cadets and junior officers. Senior officers (Commandant and higher ranks) may be granted 43 days leave.

How do I join the Army Ranger Wing?

Personnel may apply, after successful completion of initial training, to undergo the Army Ranger Wing Selection Course. If the applicant is deemed successful on this course, he/she will then become a member of the Army Ranger Wing.

Can I apply for the Army Ranger Wing if I am in the RDF?

No, only members of the Permanent Defence Forces are eligible to apply for the Army Ranger Wing

What is the Naval Service?

The Naval Service (NS) is a component of the Irish defence Forces of which the President of Ireland is the Commander and Chief. The NS is commanded by Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service (FOCNS) who is based in Naval HQ at the Naval Base, Haulbowline in Cork Harbour.  We currently operate eight modern ships, L.É. Eithne, L.É. Niamh, L.É. Róisín, L.É. Aisling L.É. Aoife, L.É. Ciara, L.É. Orla, L.É. Samuel Beckett, L.É. James Joyce, L.É WB Yeats and L.É George Bernard Shaw. The prefix L.É. stands for Long Éireannach. The NS is the principal sea going agency of the state and is charged with Maritme Defence, Fishery protection, Contraband Interdiction Duties, SAR and enforcing Irish and EU laws/ legislation with the Irish Economic Zone. This zones currently extends to 132,000 square miles. This area is approximately 5 times the size of Ireland, and amounts to approximately 16% of all EU waters.

What is the National Maritime College of Ireland?

The NMCI is a new world-class marine training centre. It is a joint venture between Cork Institute of Technology and the Naval Service. The college contains some of the most up to date marine training facilities such as bridge simulators, engine room simulators, firefighting facilities, sea survival pools etc. Naval Service Officers will complete a degree in either marine engineering or nautical science. For more information on the NMCI visit