By Sean O’Riordan
Naval officers organised a whip-around to bail out a number of recruits who have not been paid for weeks.
PDForra deputy president Mark Keane said it was “disgraceful” that young recruits had been left waiting up to four weeks to be paid.
“NCOs and officers chipped in so they could put fuel in their cars to get home and also gave some money to pay for food for themselves and their dependents,” he said. “They did this out of their own pockets.”
Mr Keane claimed that as many as 30 recruits were involved, although the Department of Defence maintained the figure was far less, but acknowledged there had been an issue with payments.
The PDForra deputy president said it was “completely unacceptable” as the recruits are poorly paid as it is.
“Very few people could live without payment for a month. Some have dependents and they shouldn’t have to rely on ‘the bank of mommy and daddy’ at this stage in their lives to help them out,” said Mr Keane.
“When they [recruits] join the Defence Forces they have to be given a service number. It normally takes two weeks for that to go through the system for them to get paid. That would be acceptable, but not four weeks.
“This kind of thing won’t help in the retention of people, which is a big problem in the Defence Forces at present.”
Mr Keane said that delays in the payments of a number of allowances for other servicemen and women were now “commonplace”.
“The payments of subsistence, travel and security duty allowances are being delayed. Some haven’t been paid since March,” he said. “We’re trying to find out who is responsible for this, but we’re getting the run-around.”
The Department of Defence said it was aware it was currently taking longer than normal to put a small number of Naval Service recruits on the payroll, due to issues relating to previous service in the Reserve Defence Forces.
The department maintained four individuals were affected, but Mr Keane reiterated it was as many as 30.
The department said it “understands that the outstanding issues in relation to these recruits have now been resolved”.
Meanwhile, representatives from PDForra and RACO, which represents officers, will meet today with the minister with responsibility for defence, Paul Keogh, to discuss the fallout from a climate survey on the Defence Forces carried out by academics from the University of Limerick.
The report, exclusively revealed by the Irish Examiner, showed all ranks were concerned about poor pay and conditions, low morale, shortage of experts in critical areas, and the lack of retention policies which were leading to more than 60 personnel quitting every month.
This story first appeared in today's Irish Examiner.