Definition of Active Service

The term "active service" or "qualifying active service" or "military service" is central to the granting of awards to all categories of applicants under the Army Pensions Acts 1923-1953, the Military Service Pensions Acts, 1924, 1934 and the Military Service Pensions (Amendment ) Act, 1949. Various levels of dissatisfaction existed on the part of veterans who were refused awards under the legislation. This led to extensive lobbying of Government and opposition elected representatives, other bodies and individuals by Old IRA Associations and veterans for a change in the application of the term "active service” as set out and applied under the Acts.

The notion and application of ‘active service’ and therefore the granting (or not) of pensions or awards evolved somewhat with the various legislative changes and is detailed in accordance with the relevant acts and new information available from Department of Defence files on these pages:


In the case of the Military Service Pensions Acts a degree of dissatisfaction with the application of the term active service by those persons refused a Certificate of Military Service is evident. Reasons were not furnished by the Board of Assessors under the Act, 1924 and the Referee under the Act, 1934 as to why applicants were not awarded certificates. The main problem appears to focus on the lack of a definition of “active service” in the legislation. This is seen in political representations, lobbying and protesting through various media by veteran’s organisations as applications and petitions made under the Act, 1949 appear to do little to satisfy those refused certificates under earlier legislation. This is very apparent in papers, submissions and representations made to the Government through the Departments of the Taoiseach, Finance and Defence in the early 1950’s by various Veterans organisations and by Public Representatives and others on behalf of individuals (see files 3/15110 and 3/13070). 

There were other concerns raised by the veterans, notably health issues, medical treatment, commemorations and matters dealing with the award of Medals, for example and these can be sourced through the descriptive listing of the Departmental files now released as part of this collection. Of course, there were financial considerations too on the part of the Government of the day, as the files demonstrate.

Researchers and historians have had access in recent years to private paper collections that contain elements and copy forms relating to applications and references by prominent IRA Veterans and others in matters dealing with "pensions" claims. These papers have to be understood in context. It is only when researchers, be they historians or family members, can assess in an open and accessible manner the totality and complexity of the files in the MSP Collection that the question of why any applicant was refused a Certificate of Military Service can be studied.

Guide to Collection

View the published Guide to the Military Service Pension Collection to find out how the collection is organised and about the information it contains.

Files of a further 9 Easter Rising Veterans released

The MSPC has released the files of a further nine 1916 Easter Rising Veterans. The files are available now for viewing. This brings the total number of 1916 veterans with files in the collection to 2,594. [more]

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