5 May 2022
By Tom Collins
Background: HQ of Irish Naval Service is on Spike Island, Cork Harbour – it’s just one part of the Irish Defence Forces which also includes the Army and Air Corps. It’s been reported that every service is suffering from staff retention problems due to low pay
Cork North Central Socialist Party TD Mick Barry said this morning that the first issue that needs to be discussed in any debate about the future of the Defence Forces is the question of ending the scandal of low pay within the ranks.
His comments came as Defence Minister Simon Coveney announced his support for recruiting at least 3000 new Defence Forces personnel and purchasing new military hardware.
Deputy Barry said: “I’m hearing a lot of talk about recruiting thousands of new Defence Force personnel. I’m hearing a lot of talk about spending hundreds of millions of euro on new military equipment. What I’m not hearing so much about is ending the scandal of low pay within the ranks. Simon Coveney can recruit 3000 new defence forces personnel in the morning – half of them will be gone within a year unless the low pay issue is resolved. This is the number one defence forces issue in my opinion and I’d like to hear Simon Coveney talk about that and give some detail as to what he intends to do about it.”
Deputy Barry said that just before the onset of the pandemic 85% of Defence Forces personnel were being paid less than the average industrial wage.
Deputy Barry said that the scandal of low pay within the Defence Forces was only able to persist because of the denial of trade union rights to defence forces personnel.
He said that any plan to end the low pay scandal needs to be coupled with a decision to grant trade union rights for defence forces personnel up to and including the right to strike.