Concerns of Defence Forces must be addressed – Ó Snodaigh
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has today called on the Government to stop treating members of the Defence Forces with the contempt which has left Defence Forces families in severe poverty and has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of personnel serving in the Defence Forces.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh was speaking at a protest by the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces group (WPDF) outside the Dáil today.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“It is scandalous that the families of Defence Forces have been forced to undertake a 24 hour vigil, in cold winter weather, to highlight the crisis facing their families.
“Cuts to pay and allowances and years of neglect have resulted in families in severe poverty and also a dramatic reduction in the number of personnel serving in the Defence Forces.
“For those that remain, morale is at an all-time low. Families report struggling to feed and clothe their children and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Defence Forces members qualifying for FIS payments.
“This has resulted in the loss of experiences and specialised personnel and has contributed to the lack of capacity of the defence forces to carry out essential services such as air ambulance and specialised duties in areas such as bomb disposal.
“The fact that Defence Forces representative groups are basically excluded from public sector pay talks and are prohibited from trade union membership has meant that the plight of personnel has been largely ignored.
“This Government is treating members of the members of the Defence Forces with contempt and is taking advantage of the fact that personnel do not have collective bargaining rights. Sinn Féin has published legislation giving members of the Defence Forces the right to engage in collective bargaining to improve their terms and conditions.
“I am calling on the Government to meet with the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces Group to hear their concerns and to make a commitment to ensure that the Defence Forces can be adequately represented in talks concerning pay and conditions.”