Personnel and pay issues have dogged our Defence Forces for far too long. Patience and commitment have been taken for granted, too.
There have been protests over pay, leading to a very modest concession.
The latest symptom of this neglect is minister of state Paul Kehoe’s insistence that two naval vessels, the LÉ Eithne and LÉ Orla, are out of service for routine maintenance.
This has been publicly rejected by navy officers, who insist that they do not have the crew needed to man the Navy’s nine vessels.
Like the other arms of our Defence Forces, the Navy struggles to recruit and retain staff.
An able seaman is paid €28,223, but may earn morethrough extra duties. The average worker’s pay is almost €39,000.
This suggests some Defence Forces staff are entitled to welfare support, so the Government pays for not paying our soldiers, sailors, or airmen properly.
This is indefensible and it is time we treated those we turn to in our hour of need with respect, by paying something closer to a feasible wage.
Arguments about knock-on pay claims can be dismissed if the Government can find the forbearance shown by Defence Forces personnel.