Irish soldiers are ‘on the breadline and prey to loan sharks’, Dáil hears
Members of the Irish Defence Forces are so badly paid that they are falling into debt and their families live in despair, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has told the Dáil.
Mr Martin said he had been approached by soldiers’ and sailors’ families who told him harrowing tales of being short of money to cover the basics.
“These are people who do get up early in the morning,” Mr Martin pointedly told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, harking back to his Fine Gael leadership campaign slogan.
Mr Martin said it was time to find ways of addressing the financial crisis faced by Defence Force members’ families. He recalled what one member told him.
“The defence forces have put my family on the breadline and have robbed me of my health and my sanity,” the Fianna Fáil quoted one member as telling him.
The Taoiseach said he had the height of respect for the Defence Forces. He acknowledged that they suffered pay cuts like all others in the public service and these were now in the process of being corrected.
Mr Varadkar also noted that when recruitment drives were launched there were far more applicants than places. He said there were issues about special skills and this was now being examined.
The Fianna Fáil leader said there was a gap between government statements and reality. He said it was time to give the two Defence Forces’ representative organisations a role in the national pay talks.
Mr Martin also noted that it took two years for the authorities to approve a €15 per day duty allowance for navy members serving in the Mediterranean refugee rescue missions.