12 May 2017
By Elaine Murphy
Sinn Féin TD for East Cork Pat Buckley has described the increasing difficult financial situation faced by many in the Defence Forces (which includes the Irish Army, and Irish Naval Sercice) as shameful. He was responding to information from the Department of Social Protection which revealed the number of defence force families receiving FIS payments had more than doubled in just three years.
Deputy Buckley said:
Yesterday “families of Defence Force members have protested at Barracks across the state to highlight the increasing difficulty they are having in affording to pay the bills due to low wages.
“Members of the Defence Forces serve the state with great dedication and have been the cause for great pride and celebration for the country in their excellent record overseas in humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts. However, they are also workers without any means to fight for better pay and conditions in the way other workers do having no ability to strike to access the labour court.
“At present, a new member earns just €200 a week, increasing to €350 a week in their second year. The wages do not increase much more after that for ordinary soldiers.
“It is impossible in the long term for a person to feed, clothe, and house a family on such low wages. That is why families have increasingly sought further assistance from the state and this can be seen in the number in receipt of Family Income Supplement. In just three years, the numbers have more than doubled from 49 in 2013 to 124 in 2016.
“We cannot continue to treat these people in this way. It is an insult to their hard work and dedication.”