Government Abusing Loyalty of the Defence Forces - Tóibín
Speaking in relation to the ongoing crisis within the Defence Forces, Leader of Aontú and Meath West Peadar Tóibín TD said;
“The Irish Defence forces are in an unprecedented crisis. Privates and corporals who joined since 1994 are entitled to remain in service up to 50 years of age. This is age discrimination and is not right in a first-world society like our own in Ireland”.
“There are little differences in the intellectual and physical abilities of a soldier between 49 and 51-year-olds. The determining factor should be their fitness to do their job”.
“This injustice is occurring even if certain criteria for passing Defence Forces medical and fitness tests are met. The Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney has even said “We have a professional, fit and healthy defence forces who are required to pass regular medical and fitness tests. It is important for the future of our Defence Forces that these highly trained and experienced personnel are retained,”.
“So why are we seeing this expulsion of our soldiers? It is important for individual personnel in terms of providing certainty and clarity on their future careers and alongside the matter of family, so again Aontú asks why are the pay allowances, contracts and pensions not fit for purpose”.
“The Government are telling us to work until at least 66 but our defence forces cannot work to even 50”.
The salary of €34,708 a year falls far below the average in Ireland of €44,202 per year, this is unfair for such a mentally and physically demanding job and is a key reason for the ongoing crisis with the retention and recruiting of soldiers”.
“The basic minimum strength of the Irish Defence Forces is 9,500 people and it is 1,000 plus short of that mark regularly. This policy is not only discrimination but is an act of self-sabotage as our Defence Forces are in significant decline”.
“No other uniformed service in this country would put up with this type of financial pressure and no other employer would get away with treating their employees like this”.
“The working time directive do not apply to the Defence Forces and because numbers in the forces were now so low, personnel were being deployed on duties that lasted several days at a time. They were being paid meagre expenses that did not cover the costs of even travelling to those duties. The pay restoration of €350 a year which works out at under €1 a day will not help retention levels”.
Concluding An Teachta Tóibín stated;
“Members of the Defence Forces have consistently been side-lined in public service pay negotiations and are excluded from trade union membership. They are legally prevented from engaging in public demonstrations or protests about their terms and conditions, which is why they have to rely on their representative organisations or their family members and former members to raise the issues, Aontú believe the Government has taken full advantage of their loyalty and their inability to engage in industrial relations. The people who protect our shores deserve better.