Army pay gap leading to exodus of personnel and difficulty in conducting overseas missions – John Brady TD
Sinn Féin TD John Brady has said that the pay structure of the Irish Defence Forces must be re-examined in the light of the disparity between soldiers’ pay and that of the Gardaí which has emerged as the Pope is due to visit Ireland.
Teachta Brady said that the enormous difference in pay and conditions was only encouraging more and more defence personnel to leave the Defence Forces, leaving the Army in particular at such low staffing level that the Defence Forces are struggling to fill places for upcoming overseas missions, such as UNIFIL.
The Wicklow TD said:
“As the country gears up for the Pope’s visit, it has become quite clear than the Defence Forces are suffering a serious lack of recognition from this government when compared to other branches of the public service.
“When a garda can earn over €30 an hour in overtime, while a soldier earns €23 a day, it is little wonder that the Defence Forces are struggling to retain personnel and attract new entrants.
"The Army in particular is in dire straits with the effective size of the force almost 1,500 below what it should be when those in basic training and on long term sick leave are discounted. Most recently, senior Defence Forces officers have criticised the most recent recruitment as being of ‘a very poor standard’.
“I have received reports from some in the Army which suggest that the lower personnel numbers are now affecting our ability to contribute to overseas missions, with positions still unfilled for the upcoming UNIFIL mission to Lebanon later this year.
"Ireland’s involvement in UN peacekeeping is one of the main reasons that we are so well respected on the global political scene. Government inaction now threatens that.
“I would ask the Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe to put forward what proposals he has to alleviate the disparity between the Defence Forces and other branches of the public service in terms of pay and allowances and to confirm that the staff shortages are leading to difficulties in preparing for missions overseas and how he plans to address that.
“Fine Gael seem quite content to disregard Irish neutrality to engage in EU military projects such as Pesco, but they won’t make sure that soldiers at home are well trained and fairly paid.”