Friday 23 February 2018

Troops as far away as Cork still getting 'Border patrol' payment

Labour TD Alan Kelly challenged Defence Department secretary general Maurice Quinn
on the issue. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Labour TD Alan Kelly challenged Defence Department secretary general Maurice Quinn on the issue. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A 'border patrol duty' allowance paid to more than 700 troops - including some in Cork and Kerry - was branded as "madness" at a Dáil committee.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard that €2.8m - or an average of €4,000 per soldier - was paid out under the scheme in 2015.

Labour TD Alan Kelly challenged Defence Department secretary general Maurice Quinn on the issue, asking: "Why in name of God are we still paying Border duty allowance to 710 recipients?"

He said Brexit may mean there was a requirement for Border duties in the future, but questioned the payment's continued existence.

"Obviously there's a historical issue going on. But to the general public this seems like madness," Mr Kelly added.

Mr Quinn said there had been efforts to remove the Border duty allowance in 2009.

An arbitration report said soldiers receiving the payment should continue to get it, but that new recruits would not. He said the Haddington Road Agreement included provision for buying out the allowances and that this was ongoing.

Soldiers being paid the allowance do not receive other security duty payments such as the one for troops that guard Central Bank facilities.

Mr Kelly asked whether it was true some soldiers in Cork and Kerry "who won't come within 200 miles of the Border" got paid the allowance.

Mr Quinn replied: "There's a small number - yes. They were [previously] working on the Border, they were in receipt of the allowance. We couldn't just take it back from these people. We had to have a process".

PAC chairman Seán Fleming asked Mr Quinn whether the Border allowance was pensionable.

Mr Quinn said a "subset" of the recipients were "likely to be able to avail of it in their pension". However, it depended on their circumstances and when they were retiring.

He promised to provide the committee with more detail on the matter.

Irish Independent

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