Our report today on the number of sailors leaving the Naval Service paints a grim picture for the future of Ireland’s maritime armed service.
More than 100 members of the service are likely to leave this year alone, amounting to 10% of the force. PDForra, which represents enlisted personnel in the service, fears the number could be much higher.
Coming on top of resignations from the Army, the exodus of highly trained and experienced men and women should be of concern, in particular, to Leo Varadkar, in his dual role of Taoiseach and minister for defence.
Yet he refuses to address a recruitment-and-retention crisis by fast-tracking pay restoration for the Defence Forces, on the grounds that it would be unfair to other public sector workers to treat our armed services differently.
Yet they are already treated differently. Gardaí receive up to €30 an hour for working overtime, but members of the Defence Forces receive a €20 allowance for up 12 hours’ work. Little wonder that on board our new, gleaming Naval Service ships, there are disheartened and demoralised sailors.