Minister must deal with issues in the Defence Forces
Labour defence spokesperson Mark Wall has welcomed the appointment by the Minister for Defence of a Confidential Contact Person (CCP) to help former and serving members of the Defence Forces who make allegations of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination. Speaking after the PDFORRA conference today, Senator Wall reiterated his calls on the Minister to immediately pay the special loyalty bonus for Naval Service personnel.
Senator Wall said:
“I want to once again acknowledge the important contribution of the Women of Honour who have been so brave in coming forward with these unacceptable incidents in our Defence Forces but praise will be no good unless there is redress and an assurance of a cultural overhaul within Forces. It is welcome to see the appointment of an independent and confidential person to ensure that allegations are never ignored again and that every complaint is addressed.
“It was deeply troubling to hear women say that they do not feel that they have the power or the support to report incidences of harassment, and even that even when reports are made, women are given inadequate support to work through it or their reports are not followed through. There needs to be a higher standard within the forces and this represents a step forward so that all victims of harassment can feel confident that reports will be dealt with formally.
“A root and branch review into how the Defence Forces deals with issues like this and ensure that the experienced described in the documentary never happen to another woman or member of the forces is required and I welcome the Minsiter’s engagement with the Women on Honour on this. We need to ensure that this review will be one of substance, one that will change things within the Forces once and for all.
Highlighting additional issues with the Forces that must be dealt with by the Minister, Senator Wall said:
“I am reiterating my call to the Minister to pay the special loyalty bonus as highlighted during the PDFORRA conference. Naval Service personnel who signed up for a special loyalty bonus to ensure there were enough crews to undertake sea patrols are still waiting to be paid the first tranche of the money, which is now months overdue. This is simply not acceptable and needs to be expedited.
“Having raised the “post 94” contracts in the Seanad with the Minister last week once again, I fully support the calls of PDFORRA to negotiate with the Minister in the quickest possible time an outcome to these contracts to allow those involved plan for their futures, which we all hope will include a continuation of staying in our Defence Forces.
“The recruitment and retention crisis in our Defence Forces has been ongoing for some time, with plummeting numbers, and questions have even been asked about the future viability of the armed forces. A report in the Irish Examiner highlighted that the current overall strength is at 8,478 — a figure that includes recruits and officer cadets who are not trained and who cannot technically take part in any serious operations.
“The reality is that pay and conditions in the Defence Forces have not kept up with what is now available in the private sector, and the State is now losing out as specialist skills we have heavily invested in are sought out by other employers.”