Fianna Fáil in favour of independent pay commission for Defence Forces

Fianna Faíl says it's in favour of establishing an independent pay commission for the Defence Forces and wants to restore an Army brigade which was disbanded in 2012.

Fianna Fáil in favour of independent pay commission for Defence Forces

Fianna Faíl says it's in favour of establishing an independent pay commission for the Defence Forces and wants to restore an Army brigade which was disbanded in 2012.

The party is currently drawing up a full Defence manifesto, but has already signalled it would implement the Working Time Directive for military personnel and give senior military management greater input into how the Defence budget is spent.

Ahead of the completion of the manifesto, Fianna Fáil spokesman on Defence, Jack Chambers, has written to the two Defence Forces representative associations outlining some actions his party will undertake if it forms the next government.

Mr Chambers wrote to RACO, which represents the country's 1,100 officers, and PDForra, which represents 6,500 enlisted personnel, saying his party is committed to setting up a permanent and independent pay review body.

"We also support a comprehensive external review, similar in nature and scope to the 1990 Gleeson Commission on Remuneration and Conditions of Service in the Defence Forces, or the recent Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. The role of the Department of Defence should also be examined in such a review," Mr Chambers wrote.

He said he believes this is the right thing to do for the Defence Forces who are locked out of national pay talks because they are not affiliated to trade unions.

Jack Chambers
Jack Chambers

However, ICTU the umbrella body for trade unions, has given PDForra its blessing to affiliate to it.

Minister with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, has said he is studying the ramifications of such a move and will shortly make a decision on it.

It's widely believed he will veto it, especially after Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett said union affiliation was not compatible with military life and may pose a security threat to the State.

Mr Chambers said PDForra's declaration that its members would never resort to strike action 'is welcome and clearly bolsters the case for affiliation.'

He also said his party would reverse the 2012 decision to reduce the country's Army brigades from three to two.

The brigade which was based in Athlone was disbanded.

The 2012 reorganisation led to many poorly paid personnel having to travel miles to new bases and claims some were sleeping in cars because they couldn't afford fuel to drive home at night from their new postings.

Fianna Fáil has also said it wants to examine the present structure of the Department of Defence to enhance the input and discretion of military management in decisions over defence spending.

There have been consistent calls from both representative associations that Vice Admiral Mellett should be given total discretion over how to spend the annual budget, just like Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has for the gardaí.

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