Member of military says Defence Forces 'being used as puppets' to provide security for Papal visit

Member of military says Defence Forces 'being used as puppets' to provide security for Papal visit

A serving member of the Defence Force has spoken out about pay parity for overtime duties ahead of Pope's visit.

Members of the Defence Forces will reportedly receive €68 before tax for the 24 hours overtime worked over the duration of the visit.

The individual spoke to Miriam O'Callaghan anonymously this morning. For the purposes of the radio interview and to hide his identity, he was named Paul and his voice was distorted.

He said that he felt compelled to speak out as he felt "very disheartened with what's going on...we're being used as puppets by the minister to provide security for the Pope's visit in unfair conditions".

Paul said that they have been kept in the dark about what they will be doing when they are brought to Dublin.

Members are unsure of what time they are leaving and what time they will be able to return home.

He thinks that they will be there for crowd control but says they won't know until Friday or later.

If he chooses not to work Paul says that he would "be charged for being absent, I'd lose pay, I'd lose three days pay...and I'd have a black mark against me, I'd be punished in a mixture of ways".

With the amount being spent on security for the Pope's visit, he doesn't understand why they will be paid as little as they are being paid.

Paul said that they have not received an official amount of what they will be getting paid.

"Apparently, we'll get €68 for what I suppose will work out being 30-40 hours and that more than likely will be before tax."

When asked what he would consider a decent rate for the work being provided Paul said: "Surely we'd be entitled to a decent hourly rate between €20 and €30... it's going to work out maybe €1.20 an hour, €2 an hour max".

He says that other members of the Defence Forces feel the same way.

"Everyone that I've spoken to is in the same frame of mind. They don't want to be there. They are outraged yet they will be there because the punishment that they will receive won't be worth it."

The Department of Defence sent a statement to RTÉ in response to Paul's phone call:

  • Unlike other areas of the Public Service and due to the nature of the duties performed, overtime or shift allowance are not available to members of the Defence Forces. In its place a weekly Military Service Allowance is paid to all ranks up to the level of Colonel. Military Service Allowance is designed to compensate for the special disadvantages associated with military life. This includes unsocial hours of duty, exposure to danger, and he restrictions inherent in military discipline.
  • For Privates, Corporals and Sergeants with more 3 years in service, Military Service Allowance (MSA) is worth just over €115 per week, per person. Other ranks up to BQMS are paid €122.87 MSA per week.
  • On the instruction of Minister Kehoe, the challenges in relation to recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces were brought to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission. As a direct result of that initiative the Public Service Pay Commission are undertaking an in-depth evidence based examination of the issues.

You can listen to the full interview below:

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