Sinn Féin spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD today questioned the wisdom of the government’s efforts to purportedly tackle the problem of personnel leaving the Defence Forces, whilst simultaneously antagonising the bulk of the rank file members by ignoring their core demands.
The Wicklow TD said:
“We have a very serious problem in that the current levels of Defence Forces are wholly understrength.
“One of the worst affected arms of the Defence Forces is the naval service. The optimum level stands at 1,094, whilst its current strength is just 904.
“Over the last number of months, we have witnessed several instances where naval vessels were unable to carry out routine patrol work due to personnel shortages.
“Meanwhile PDForra, the representative body the speaks on behalf of 6,500 members of the Defence Forces, from the navy, army and air corps, has said that it does not believe that the Special Defence Forces Pay Review Body proposed by the government will go anywhere near meeting the needs of its members.
“PDForra argue that its members interests would be better represented by allowing it to affiliate with ICTU.
“They are supported in this argument by the Pan EU military body EURMIL. It is a matter of record that the majority of EU armies are permitted affiliation.”
Teachta Brady continued:
“A continuing failure to meet the needs of members of the Defence Forces will surely mean that the crippling exodus from our armed services will continue. The half measures proposed by the government offer little to these members.
“I believe that it is about time that Minister Coveney stands back, listens to the people who matter in this situation, and make a meaningful attempt to meet their demands.
“These demands have support in Europe and from the United Nations body, which has written to the government backing the PDForra stance, claiming that failure to allow members of the Defence Forces to affiliate with ICTU is a breach of their human rights.
“I call upon Minister Coveney to act, to act without delay, and to act in the best interest of the members of our Defence Forces as a whole.”