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Government policies devaluing and demoralising the men and women of the Defence Forces – Ó Snodaigh

4 April, 2017 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking before tonight’s debate on a Fianna Fáil motion on Defence, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said that Government cuts in pay and allowances are devaluing the role of the men and women serving in the Defence Forces which is impacting on morale and leading to unprecedented dropout rates.

The Dublin South Central TD said:

“The families of Defence Forces personnel are finding it increasingly difficult to cope, to make ends meet, and this has been related to me in meetings with Defence Forces personnel and their families in recent months.

“A significant number of enlisted personnel are so badly paid that an estimated 7,000 are in receipt of Family Income Supplement and the financial pressure on families is so pronounced that the Defence Forces can no longer be considered a secure career option with good long term prospects.”

The Sinn Féin Defence Force Spokesperson said that the Defence Forces were severely understrength and the haemorrhaging of specialist personnel and officers was adding to the pressure on the other ranks.

“Sinn Féin believes proper investment needs to be directed at the men and women of the Defence Forces whose much lauded roles as peacekeepers in some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones must be matched by fair rates of pay and adequate allowances.

“Of course, one of the reasons that the Government has been able to impose such unfair cuts to pay and allowances is that they have prevented representative associations such as PDFORRA from participating in national pay-bargaining bodies.

“Sinn Féin fully supports the efforts of Defence Forces representative organisations to secure this right with the Council of Europe under the European Charter of Social Rights and I believe that the State must act to address this denial of fundamental rights.

“It is also important that the Defence Forces are adequately equipped to respond to humanitarian crisis and to serve on overseas UN missions and further to aid the Irish Coast Guard during emergencies and transport sick patients to and from paediatric hospitals.”

In his speech, Deputy Ó Snodaigh also highlighted the scandals of Lariam being still the anti-malaria drug of choice for the Army when its use has been discontinued by most armies across the world due to its serious long-term and potentially fatal side effects. He raised the non-existent health and safety policies that have affected Air Corps ground crews when dealing with highly toxic and dangerous chemicals despite. 

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