Councillor notes air of despair as soldiers depart for Syria

Fianna Fáil Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke has reiterated his stance of support for the Defence Forces members at Custume Barracks as they depart for a tour of duty in Syria, reinforcing his message to the Government to adequately remunerate serving soldiers in reflection of their current role in our communities.

“This Government continues to treat Defence Forces members with contempt. There is an abundance of flattery towards our soldiers by the current Minister for Defence, but no respect and absolutely no understanding of the scale of the current crisis. Soldiers are queuing up to leave the Army, Navy and Air Corps because they simply can not afford to live on their pay entitlements.

“One soldier who departed for his tour of duty in Syria informed me that he and his colleagues were being treated in a completely unfair manner by the State at this time,” Cllr. O’Rourke stated.

Cllr. O’Rourke noted that the €10m incremental package offered to Defence Force members in recent times is but an insult to their occupation and the manner in which they serve the country.

“In the coming weeks both RACO and PDFORRA will ask its members to vote to accept or reject the €10m package offered to soldiers by the state. The package represents nothing more than another insult to our soldiers, as the package merely addresses financial allowances, and spread across the Air Corps, Navy and Army, leaves soldiers with only a couple of hundred euro extra per year.

“Members of RACO and PDFORRA will of course accept the deal on offer because they have no choice. It is a take it or leave it deal, there is no plan B. There is no structure of mechanism in place for soldiers to appeal the deal on offer either. Consistent with this Government’s attitude towards our colleagues in the Defence Forces for the past nine years, they are simply being told to ‘like it or lump it’,” Cllr. O’Rourke continued.

The Fianna Fáil Councillor stated that his party will pursue a call for the establishment of an independent pay review body to broach the issue of Defence Forces pay and conditions.

“Should both RACO and PDFORRA accept the package before them, it will be hailed by Government as a wonderful deal, unanimously accepted by soldiers and all is now well with the Defence Forces. This of course is simply not the case. The acceptance of the deal by members of the Defence Forces must not be seen as a ringing endorsement of the deal on offer.

“Fianna Fáil will continue to call for the establishment of an independent pay review body to deal with the pay and conditions within the Defence Forces. Such a body would review the organisation on a root and branch basis. A pay review body should be in place and remain in place so our Defence Forces can be properly heard when it comes to pay and conditions. The Minister’s recent words from the parade podium in Custume Barracks fooled no one present. The battle to secure proper pay and conditions for our loyal Defence Force personnel will mot definitely continue,” Cllr. O’Rourke concluded.

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