News & Media

Refusal to allow Pay Commission consider Defence core pay must be explained

4 July 2019

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Speaking in the Dáil today, to question the Government on Defence Forces pay and conditions, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, demanded to know why the Government had refused to allow the Pay Commission to consider the issue of core pay, and only permitted them to look at allowances and other non-pay issues.

Brendan said: “It has been widely leaked that the Government will sign off today on €10 million of extra allowances for the Defence Forces. This follows on from a report by the Public Sector Pay Commission into the recruitment and retention crisis in the Defence Forces.

“However there was clearly a flaw in the remit given to the Public Sector Pay Commission. It was not permitted to examine the issue of core pay. A Pay Commission prohibited from examining pay!

“We are now in a situation where the economy has recovered, the cost of living is going up, and there is a widespread view in the House and the country that the Defence Forces have been left behind and need a focus on their pay and conditions. In these exceptional circumstances, why did the Government not include the core pay of the Defence Forces in the terms of reference given to the Public Sector Pay Commission?

“Every national pay agreement is held together by any number of sub-agreements and special arrangements. There is no reason, given the scale of the crisis in the Defence Forces, why this would not have been done.

“It is reported that there would be a 10% increase in the military service allowance. In real terms, that means an extra weekly payment of between €4.20 and €12.30.

“I don’t believe that the Government seriously thinks that this derisory increase to allowances is going to make all the difference to recruitment and retention. Having road-tested its response in the media and found it to be seriously inadequate, apparently the Government has made another last minute adjustment by proposing another review, this time for just 2,500 members of the Defence Forces with specialist and technical skills.

“This is simply a case of the Government pushing the issue down the road, and probably beyond the next general election. And what about the thousands of personnel who would not be included in a skills review?

“Why is the Government refusing to examine the issue of core pay for the men and women of our Defence Forces?”