Army personnel paid €2.5m border duty allowance this year

IRISH army personnel have been paid almost €2.5 million in border allowances this year, despite the closure of a number of barracks close to the border and the stemming of the threat of violence from such a posting.

There are about 46 officers and 995 enlisted personnel in receipt of the border duty allowance.

The army barracks involved are Finner Camp in Donegal, Cavan and Dundalk barracks.

The soldiers, it appears, are still in receipt of the payment despite the closure of four barracks along the border and the relocation of personnel to other barracks.

Last month, the Public Accounts Committee recommended that the soldiers should no longer receive the allowances.

The Border Duty Allowance was also criticised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) in 2008, who said its payment should be stopped as violence in the North had been stemmed.

The allowance was introduced in 1969 because duty in border posts involved extra responsibility, poor accommodation and disruption to army personnel separated from their families.

However, the allowance is still being delivered despite the peace process, the closure of border barracks and the recommendations of the C&AG.

Since 2003, the payment has cost the Defence Forces in excess of €30m, roughly amounting to €5.5m per year. In the first six months of this year, the cost of the payment has topped €2.4m.

The present rate for the allowance is €96.23 per week to enlisted personnel and €111.97 per week to officers.

In his 2008 report to the Public Accounts Committee, C&AG John Buckley said that in 1996, more than 26,000 patrols, checkpoints and searches were carried out along the border. There have been none since 2002, yet personnel may be paid the allowance for a period of up to three months while on a training course.

Some logistical personnel such as cooks, fitters, military police and communications technicians are also paid the allowance when attached to border units.

A statement from the Department of Defence said a review process found personnel should retain the allowance on a personal-to-holder basis but has been discontinued for personnel joining border units/barracks after February 1, 2009.

“Personnel who were not in receipt of Border Duty Allowance on February 1, 2009, and new entrants to Border Units since then are not paid the Border Duty Allowance. In accordance with the findings of an independent adjudicator, Border Duty Allowance continues to be payable to personnel who were in receipt of the allowance on February 1, 2009, on a personal-to-holder basis,” the statement read.


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