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The Representative Association of Commissioned Officers was formally established in 1991 by statute under the Defence Amendment Act. Defence Force Regulation S.6 is the Statutory Instrument that gives effect to the Act and governs, inter alia, the establishment, funding and operation of Representative Associations in the Permanent Defence Force. The Scope of Representation of the Association, as set out in DFR S.6, includes the pay and conditions of service for members of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service.

Irish Defence Force Naval Service
Irish Defence Force Army
Irish Defence Force Air Corps
Irish Defence Force Air Corps
Irish Defence Force Naval Service


The Association has two full time officials.

General Secretary:

Lt Col Earnán Naughton

Deputy General Secretary:

Lt Col Derek Priestley

Ms Sophia Fitzsimons is the Secretary/PA to the General Secretary.

National Executive

The National Executive consists of nine officers:

  • President who has a casting vote only,
  • General Secretary in a non-voting capacity and
  • Elected Chairs of the respective constituencies. These are:
    • 1st Brigade,
    • 2nd Brigade,
    • Defence Forces Training Centre [Curragh],
    • Defence Forces Headquarters,
    • Air Corps,
    • Naval Service and
    • Lieutenant's Representative.

With the exception of the Lieutenants’ Representative, each of these constituencies has 5 elected members.

Association Members

Membership of the Association is voluntary and open to all serving officers of the Permanent Defence Force; from 2nd Lieutenant to Colonel and equivalent Naval Service ranks. Almost 96% of all officers of the Permanent Defence Force are members of the Association. Honorary Cadet membership of the Association is voluntary and open to all cadets of the PDF. Cadet membership does not entitle the member to any voting privileges nor a place on any Association committee.

C&A Process

A public service staff association such as RACO, operates within a Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme. The Scheme was established under the auspices of the Ministers for Finance and Defence. It is designed to provide a means acceptable, to both the State and officers of the Permanent Defence Force for dealing with claims and proposals relating to their conditions of employment as well, as to secure the fullest co-operation between the State, as employer, and Defence Force officers, as the senior management of the Force, for the better discharge of business. As an aid to the negotiation process where, at the culmination of the negotiation process, the parties agree to disagree on a particular issue or claim, recourse to an independent third party is available. Depending on the nature of the claim, this third party may be a facilitator, arbitrator or adjudicator.


RACO is affiliated to Euromil, the association of European Military Representative Associations and the Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations (ICPSA).

Signal Magazine

Knowledge Conquers Fear

Signal talks to Comdt Cathal Berry, who recently completed a career transition from being an infantry Officer to his current role as School Commandant of the Military Medical School, Curragh Camp, which involved resitting his Leaving Cert and undergoing extensive medical training.

As he says; "You don't have to retire from the Defence Forces to try something completely new."

Read more >>>

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