News & Media

Government needs to honour commitment to establish Defence Forces Commission

25 August 2020

Statement by Senator Mark Wall
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport
Mark Wall

The Government needs to honour the commitment within the Programme for Government to establish a Commission to examine the Defence Forces and in particular the pay and conditions within the forces according to Labour Defence Spokesperson, Senator Mark Wall.

Senator Wall was speaking after it was revealed that personnel are leaving the Naval Service to join the army because allowances and conditions are better.

Senator Wall said:

“The Defence Forces are the lowest paid public servants across the board, and we know that the recruitment and retention crisis within the force is exacerbated by the pay and conditions. The fact that naval recruits are willing to put themselves through the gruelling recruitment training twice in order to join the army because allowances and conditions are better than the naval service is revealing.

“Minister Coveney promised to introduce emergency remuneration measures to try and stem the flow of personnel leaving the armed forces as both wings of the Defence Forces are currently operating without a fifth of the personnel they need. However, to date no such legislation has been forthcoming.

“The Programme for Government commits to the establishment of an Independent Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces something the Labour Party have been long calling for. I am calling on the Government to bring forward the terms of reference for the Commission immediately with a view to establishing the Commission before the end of 2020.

“The Commission cannot be used by the Government as a can kicking exercise and when complete they need to commit to acting urgently on its recommendations. In the meantime, Minister Coveney needs to bring forward legislation to provide emergency remuneration measures to the armed forces early in the Autumn legislative programme.

“Core pay is a massive issue in terms of retaining personnel in the Defence Forces and the Government needs to admit that the Defence forces are an outlier and are vastly underpaid in relation to the rest of the public service. The fact that members of the Naval service are willing to submit themselves to the gruelling recruitment training twice in order to obtain slightly better allowances and conditions in the army shows the urgent need for the Government to deal properly with pay and conditions within the armed forces.