The former head of the Irish Army Ranger Wing, Dr Cathal Berry has welcomed the comments of the President Michael D Higgins about pay and conditions for defence forces personnel.
“Members should have incomes that are sufficient to provide for themselves and their families. Showing appreciation is not enough; Words must be matched with actions,” the President said on Wednesday.
Dr Berry told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that there was a legal argument that as supreme commander of the defence forces the President had a responsibility to look out for the welfare of personnel.
It was very significant for the President to weigh in on the subject as it was a “dangerous precedent” that State was not paying the basic minimum wage to defence force personnel.
Even when basic salary and overtime were joined the figure did not come to the minimum wage, he said. The rate for overtime is between €2 and €3.50 depending on rank.
“That’s not a rate, that’s an outrage,” he said.
However, Dr Eoin O’Malley, associate professor of political science at Dublin City University said that the President was pushing boundaries and could have expressed his concerns privately to the Taoiseach.
Later on the same programme, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said it was "quite unusual" for the President to comment, but he was "not surprised or upset" by what the President had said.