Thursday, 11 July 2019
Public Service Pay Commission Report on the Permanent Defence Force: Statements
Fiona O'Loughlin (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
Last Thursday there was considerable anticipation of the report. There was genuine hope it would contain something that would restore the morale of the Defence Forces. They are the men and women who defend this and other countries and intervene when we have crises. Sadly, that hope was not fulfilled. When we had an opportunity to read the long-overdue report, a number of things were very striking. The terms of reference were far too narrow and limited. The military management recommendations were removed, which was completely wrong. The figure of €10 million proposed within the report is one third of what was sent back to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform by the Department of Defence. This suggests the 8,500 members of the Defence Forces are worth only one third of what was sent back in terms of what is needed to try to stem the recruitment and retention crisis. The most disturbing aspect is that 60% indicated that they would leave within two years, on top of the 37% who have left in the past four years, of whom 82% left prematurely, with 86 alone leaving in April. Will we have an army left? A mere 96 cent a day would not even buy half a bar of chocolate. Morale is on the floor and we can understand why.
The Public Service Pay Commission has highlighted specific disadvantages associated with military life such as unsocial hours and prolonged separation from family. Because of this we need a permanent independent Defence Forces pay body to be established. The Air Corps and the Naval Service are in jeopardy. Respect and loyalty to defend the State should be reciprocated with proper pay and conditions, but that is certainly not contained in the report.