Labour demand debate on Defence Force pay and conditions
Labour defence spokesperson Mark Wall has demanded a debate on the future of the Defence Forces in the Seanad.
Speaking following the Budget, Senator Wall said there is a crisis in the Forces at present, with Force numbers heading below 8,000 for the first time in many years.
Senator Wall said:
“The single biggest threat to the viability of our Defence Forces into the future is this Government’s failure to adequately address pay and conditions for members. While this week’s Budget made a welcome reference to new plans and primary radar, it failed to take into account the urgent need to invest in personnel.
“To implement key recommendations from the report of the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces required a long term commitment to increase funding. Core pay is a primary cause of the recruitment and retention crisis in the Defence Forces. We know that extra personnel will be vital to safeguard the future of the Forces, but with many currently serving unable to meet bills this winter, we are risking losing more and more of skilled personnel to the private sector. The impact of the cost of living crisis on our Defence Forces demands Government attention.
“In addition to the cost of living crisis facing members of the Defence Forces and indeed every household this winter, the housing crisis has had a huge impact on retention within the Defence Forces. We need a stronger focus on accommodation for those who enlist and serve. I’ve repeatedly said retention is the most important factor in securing our Defence Forces into the future. Delivering decent housing for serving personnel at our barracks and bases would go a long way to making the Defence Forces a more attractive career path.
“Investment in capital infrastructure such as primary radar, and other equipment is absolutely necessary but if we don’t have the sailors, soldiers and pilots in place then the extra spending won’t deliver the capabilities we need.”