Compensation call for troops who quarantine

Compensation call for troops who quarantine
LÉ George Bernard Shaw.

The military's two representative associations are seeking financial compensation for troops who are forced to leave their families two weeks prematurely to go into compulsory Covid-19 quarantine prior to deploying on overseas missions.

Meanwhile, the Naval Service has confirmed that it's had to “deep clean” one of its ships after a sailor was confirmed as having the virus.

Both PDForra, which represents enlisted personnel, and RACO, which represents officers, have sought compensation for troops who are having to leave their families two weeks earlier than usual before UN deployment.

PDForra wrote to the Department of Defence saying it believes a special payment is “warranted given the analogous nature of quarantine.” 

The association said “the complete prohibition of personnel from seeing their families, a requirement to live in "Spartan conditions" within the training centres for prolonged periods, and the extension of the training environment "renders the grant of an allowance reasonable under the circumstances.” 

RACO said that not only were troops obliged to go into pre-deployment quarantine, but they also had to self-isolate for a further two weeks when they return home and therefore couldn't go out during that period to celebrate their reunion with their families.

Those who might have vulnerable family members would have to self-isolate at a military barracks on their return.

RACO said some form of compensation should be paid for “the hardship and distress” this was causing and it was also likely in some cases to lead to increased childcare costs.

TD Cathal Berry, a former second-in-command of the elite Army Ranger Wing (ARW), said the Department of Defence “should automatically” provide more money for the troops as it had given an ex-gratia payment in October 2018 to troops who were delayed returning home from a UN mission in Syria.

Two soldiers recently tested positive for Covid-19 while quarantining at Lynch Camp, Kilworth, Co Cork.

As a result they, and 25 others who had been in close contact with them, did not fly out as scheduled a few days later to Lebanon with a large contingent of peace-keeping troops.

The Defence Forces press office said it is hoping to fly these troops out to Lebanon shortly to join their comrades.

The Naval Service press office said a crew member of LÉ George Bernard Shaw was confirmed with Covid-19 last week, a few days after the ship finished a patrol.

While it's believed the sailor became infected after the patrol ended and while he was on leave, the Naval Service has asked all of his crewmates to exercise caution and report any symptoms.

As of yesterday there were no further cases reported.

Contractors were brought into deep clean the vessel and this was done within 24 hours.

Social distancing is problematic on Naval Service ships where crews of between 40 and 50 are often in very close proximity to each other.

“Where social distancing can be achieved it is. However, when it can't there's a whole range of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) available to the crews to use,” a Naval Service spokesman said.

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