President Michael D Higgins says Defence Forces should get proper pay
Posted on 11th September 2019 at 22:07
Working conditions of members ought to be ‘exemplary’ in society, he says
President Michael D Higgins has intervened in a dispute over pay in the Defence Forces, insisting it “should not be too much to expect” that members are paid an income that is sufficient to provide for themselves and their families.
He was speaking at an event at Áras an Uachtaráin to celebrate members of the Defence Forces whose conduct exemplifies the standards demanded of members.
The issue of pay and conditions for the Defence Forces has been ongoing for months and a report by the Public Service Pay Commission during the summer found more than 60 per cent of enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers intended to leave in the coming two years.
A subsequent increase to the military service allowance was dismissed by the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, which said it was “not going to cut it” and would fail to stem “the exodus” of personnel from the Defence Forces.
Mr Higgins, who as president is supreme commander of the Defence Forces, said on Wednesday it was “no secret” that changes in conditions for serving men and women “has brought its own challenges”.
“Those providing such a vital service as those in our Defence Forces must be real partners in interpreting and responding to such changes,” he said.
“Should this not happen, there is a real danger of a gap opening-up between our expressed appreciation of their work and the circumstances we deliver for its practice.
“Many are understandably concerned about the ability to attract and retain people of the highest calibre in the Defence Forces.
“It is not too much, I would suggest, to expect that serving men and women should have conditions including an income and prospects that are sufficient to provide for themselves and their families.”
Mr Higgins went further and said the conditions under which members serve “should be exemplary” for other parts of society and economy.
“I have heard and read with anxiety of the distress that is being experienced by some of those who are giving their all to serve the State,” he said.
“There is a duty on us to acknowledge the importance of the contribution of the serving member’s family. While being a member of the Defence Forces is a worthy and dutiful role, it is a perilous one.
“Our soldiers have died on service overseas and in Ireland, reflecting the real dangers they face in serving their country and their fellow citizens.
“Those of us who have become aware of it, are always moved by what is experienced by the partner or family of a loved one working for prolonged periods in dangerous parts of the world, or in perilous situations at home and abroad one cannot truly fathom.
“Recognising the anxiety that this can evoke with their families and friends must be responded to in the quality of our response in terms of living conditions.”
A little over a week ago, the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA), which represents enlisted personnel in the Defence Forces, formally sought to link up with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu).
Many in the Defence Forces believe that because their representative organisations were not associated with the public service committee of Ictu in the talks that led to the current public service pay deal, they did not do as well as others across the public service.
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