Ireland: Ministers forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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IrelandMinisters forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins

18:15  12 september  2019
18:15  12 september  2019 Source:   independent.ie

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President Michael D Higgins has intervened in a dispute over pay in the Defence Forces , insisting it “should not be too much to expect” that members are paid an income that is sufficient to provide for themselves and their families. He was speaking at an event at Áras an Uachtaráin to celebrate

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has declared that Ireland’s Defence Forces should be given enough pay to be able to care for themselves and their families. The Irish army, navy and air corp have been involved in a battle with the Government this year to increase their pay and recruit more troops.

Ministers forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins © INM President Michael D Higgins Photo: Damien Eagers

MINISTERS have been forced to defend the Government’s record on Defence Forces pay after President Michael D Higgins made an extraordinary intervention on the issue.

The President said it is “not too much” to expect that men and women serving in the Defence Forces should have “an income and prospects” to provide for themselves and their families.

Ministers forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins Measuring up: Defence Forces on ceremonial duties. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The remarks were made at an event honouring Defence Forces members in Arás an Uachtaráin.

Privately eyebrows have been raised in Government circles after Mr Higgins' remarks - which have been viewed by some as straying into a policy area outside his remit.

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PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has rowed into the ongoing issue of Defence Forces pay , arguing that members should have “sufficient” income. In a speech today at the annual Defence Force Values Awards, held at Áras an Uachtaráin, Higgins said that “serving men and women should have

President Michael D Higgins has intervened in a dispute over pay in the Defence Forces , insisting it “should not be too much to A spokesman for Paul Kehoe, the Minister of State at the Department of Defence , declined to comment, although some senior Government and Opposition figures privately

Ministers forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Reuters

Mr Higgins’ intervention has refocused attention on pay for soldiers, sailors and Aer Corps personnel.

Defence Forces pay has been a matter of controversy for the Government in recent months amid claims from the Opposition that it is impacting on the recruitment and retention of staff.

Mr Higgins’ remarks were welcomed by Defence Forces representative groups and a succession of ministers were today forced to defend the Government’s record in the wake of his comments.

Ministers forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins © Arthur Carron Michael Creed

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe insisted that plans have been put in place to address pay for Defence Forces personnel.

He said changes that have been made will see a three-star private’s pay rise from €21,000 to €28,000 and that Defence Forces staff will also benefit from changes to their allowances.

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President Michael D Higgins has said members of the Defence forces should have incomes that are sufficient to provide for themselves and their families. Speaking at an event to honour seven exemplary members of military this evening he said showing appreciation is not enough

Michael D Higgins became Ireland's ninth president in October 2011, securing more than one million votes after the final count. This would create a relatively unique scenario with an incumbent president having to defend his record against one or more candidates on the campaign trail.

Also speaking on RTÉ Radio, agriculture minister Michael Creed described Mr Higgins’ intervention as “quite unusual”, but argued that the Government shared the President’s views on the issue.

He said: “I’m not surprised or annoyed to be honest with you. I mean it is an issue out there.

“The President and indeed the government and the Oireachtas are ad idem [a Latin phrase meaning a 'meeting of the minds'] with him in terms of recognising the contribution [of the Defence Forces].

Ministers forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins Tanaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Tánaiste Simon Coveney meanwhile, said Mr Higgins was “reflecting a concern and a frustration in Government”.

He said that concern is “why we have had a public sector pay commission looking at Defence Force pay".

“That’s why we have improved take home pay in certain areas on the back of that report”.

Ministers forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins © Copyright Steve Humphreys Irish Independent Fianna Fail defence spokesperson Jack Chambers. Photo: Steve Humphreys

He added: “I don’t have any huge concerns in relation to those comments.”

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President Michael D . Higgins has said it should not be too much to expect that members of Defence Forces get paid enough money to support themselves and their families. Speaking on Wednesday at the annual Defence Force Values Awards at Áras an Uachtaráin, Higgins said that “serving men and

The Defence Forces (Irish: Fórsaí Cosanta, officially styled Óglaigh na hÉireann), are the military of Ireland. They encompass the Army, Air Corps, Naval Service and Reserve Defence Forces .

Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers has called on the Government to address what he described as an “exodus” of personnel from the Defence Forces.

He cited figures showing 290 members left last year by buying their way out.

Mr Chambers called for “real action” from Defence Minister Paul Kehoe to stop the “retention crisis”.

Ministers forced to defend record on Defence Forces pay after 'unusual' intervention by President Michael D Higgins © [email protected] Defence minister Paul Kehoe. Photo: David Jones

Labour’s Defence spokesperson Brendan Ryan called for the government to commit to a review of core pay for Defence Forces staff.

He said he wants to see staff “paid a living wage, along with the provision of suitable and sufficient accommodation at barracks for personnel and their families”.

He warned that personnel will continue to leave the Defence Forces unless such measures are introduced.

A spokesman for Mr Kehoe insisted that the government is “actively addressing issues of pay, recruitment and retention - not just in the Defence Forces - but across the entire Public Service.”

He said the current deal for members of the Defence Forces sees increases in core pay of up to 7.4pc between 2018 and 2020.

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The 7th Central Pay Commission (7CPC), constituted in February 2014 to review the principles and structure of emoluments of all central government civilian employees including defence forces in India, submitted its report on 19 November 2015.:p 95

Events during the year 2012 in Ireland. President : Michael D . Higgins . Taoiseach: Enda Kenny (FG). Tánaiste: Eamon Gilmore (Lab). Minister for Finance: Michael Noonan (FG).

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