Time for government to start listening on defence forces pay and conditions – Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has raised issues pertaining to the pay and conditions of defence forces personnel in the Dáil today.
Ms McDonald said that the government “needs to start listening” following comments from the former head of the Army Ranger Wing Commandant Cathal Berry this morning.
Speaking during Leaders' Questions this afternoon, the Sinn Féin President said:
“Defence forces personnel are the worst paid workers in the public service. Many rely on the Working Family Payment in order to make ends meet.
"Members see a long-term career in the Defence Forces as unsustainable and unviable and in order to provide for their families they are leaving in their droves.
“This situation has been allowed to run on for too long without any resolution. There is, in the Defence Forces, as in other areas of the public service, a recruitment and retention crisis. The number of serving personnel has dropped below 8,500 and morale is on the floor.
“The government must start listening. They must recognise that members of the defence forces are employees and entitled to the same protections as every other worker.
"They must recognise the serious damage that has been done to the defence forces as a career option, listen to the soldiers and their families and deal once and for all with these core issues of workers’ rights.”