ONE in five soldiers are receiving government hand-outs to avoid poverty, it was revealed today.
A conference heard that around 1,300 members of the Defence Forces qualify for the family income supplement.
A union representative leader said this was clear evidence that cuts in their pay had gone too deep.
Mark Scally, who is president of Pdforra, representing soldiers, sailors and aircrew, told its annual conference in Wexford: "It is nonsensical to cut our members pay on one hand and then give the money back under a different name on the other.
"Government policy should be directed at protecting the pay levels of those, who are now reliant on family income supplements", he added.
He estimated that 20pc of his 6,500 members qualified for the supplements at some level and said this figure indicated they were not receiving adequate pay to provide their families with a decent standard of living.
It also showed that ongoing cuts in pay had gone too far and resulted in unnecessary stress, he argued.