Archive for June 12, 2019

Restore Pay, Allowances,Conditions and Pensions of the Defence Forces

Shocking Endangerment of Irish People By Government. Varadkar is Minister for Defence.


Letter From Dr Ed. Horgan (Comdt. Retired) to Irish Examiner

“While good equipment and training are necessary, good morale and conditions for our soldiers are far more important.”

Dear Editor
In recent times our Irish Defence Forces have been treated with serious neglect bordering on irresponsibility by the Irish Government. This happened previously after World War II, and as a result when Irish soldiers were sent to the Congo in 1960 several soldiers died due to inadequate equipment and training. While some improvements were achieved, when the conflict in Northern Ireland erupted the Defence Forces transport fleet was so unreliable that it took some units weeks to deploy to border areas. Now this is all happening again at a time when Brexit could increase security needs, and international terrorism could bring serious security threats due to US military use of Shannon airport. While good equipment and training are necessary, good morale and conditions for our soldiers are far more important. While the Irish Defence Forces active numbers have been reduced to below 8,800, the Department of Defence has well over 300 civilians not only duplicating many of the responsibilities of serving army officers, but also exercising a stranglehold over most aspects of military management regardless of their lack of military knowledge. Ireland does not have an army and should never need an army unless we planned to invade some other territory. What we should have is an adequate Defence Force capable of ensuring the sovereignty of Irish people and Irish territory. The present strength, equipment and morale of the Irish Defence Forces falls so far short of this vital requirement that our Government leaders could be accused of treasonous behavior. Ireland does not need expensive squadrons of fighter aircraft and battle tanks to defend its sovereignty. We have never had the capacity to defend Ireland by conventional military means and never will have. The only way Ireland can be defended is by actively planning, training and equipping our Defence Forces for guerilla warfare, which is how we got our independence. Our neutrality and island geography are vital parts of this defence. This requires a well-resourced volunteer Permanent Defence Force, backed up by equally well-resources Reserve Defence Forces and Civil Defence organization. Good morale and working conditions are vital towards achieving this, and these three defence elements can also be tasked to do very many other useful services including UN peacekeeping, as hopefully they will never be required to defend our sovereignty, which was achieved at huge cost.
Dr Edward Horgan, (Commandant retired), Newtown, Castletroy, Limerick

———————————————————Withdrawal of Naval Service ships ‘neon sign’ to drug smugglers-Irish Times

Guns and drugs:“The end result is there will be more drugs on the streets of Dublin, PortarlingtonBallina etc. And more guns, since the guns come in with the drugs.”

But decision to purchase 200 million Euro Warship for use “at home and Abroad” remains in place!!!

Conor Gallagher, Irish Times, Tuesday, July 9, 2019, 

The mothballing of almost one-quarter of the Naval Service’s ships will have a significant effect on the State’s ability to stop drug smuggling through Irish waters, security sources say.

A week ago, the head of the Navy, Cmdr Michael Malone, announced the flagship LÉ Eithne and patrol vessel LÉ Orla were being brought into port as the service “cuts its cloth” due to severe manpower shortages.

The LÉ Róisín will be out of service for some months while it is being refitted. Planning documents state the LÉ Eithne and LÉ Orla will likely remain in port for between 15 and 18 months while personnel are recruited and trained to man them. However, informed military sources said the prevailing belief among Naval Service senior staff was the vessels LÉ Eithne and LÉ Orla would never sail again.

“The staffing problems are getting worse, not better, and there is absolutely nothing to suggest that is going to change,” an officer said.

Cmdr Malone’s decision is seen as prudent by most Naval officers due to the lack of staff needed to safely crew the two ships. But there is widespread anger with the Government that the staffing levels have deteriorated to this point.

Both vessels have played a key role in operations to target drug smuggling into Ireland and other countries, particularly as part of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Maoc), an EU-funded international anti-drugs agency.

Intercepting shipments Ireland is one of seven members of Maoc and the contribution of the Naval Service is highly valued within the organisation in

intercepting drug shipments and gathering intelligence on smugglers passing through Irish waters. Typically, Naval Service ships are tasked with investigating suspicious ships which are spotted by the Air Corps’ two maritime patrol aircraft. They also often receive intelligence from other navies.

Naval Service ships have assisted or led several high-value, anti-smuggling missions in recent years, including the interdiction by UK authorities of a boat carrying 500kg of cocaine in 2018.

In 2008, the LÉ Orla assisted in Operation Seabight, which resulted in the largest drugs seizure in Irish history. About €750 million worth of cocaine was recovered off the coast of Co Cork.

Naval plans state the current patrols of the service’s remaining six vessels will not be altered, meaning the withdrawal of the LÉ Eithne and LÉ Orla and the refit of the LÉ Róisín will leave a large gap in coverage of Ireland’s coasts.

“This is like a neon sign for drug smugglers. The deterrent factor is gone. Everyone will think ‘Paddy is easy, let’s land them on the coast of Kerry’,” a military source said.

Guns and drugs “The end result is there will be more drugs on the streets of Dublin, PortarlingtonBallina etc. And more guns, since the guns come in with the drugs.”

Intelligence suggests maritime smugglers are increasingly travelling around the north of Ireland on their way to mainland Europe in an effort to avoid detection. The LÉ Eithne, which has the longest range of any Naval Service vessel at 13,000km plays a key role in monitoring such vessels.

“Ireland has a massive sea mass. Nine vessels is like having two Garda cars patrol the entire island. Now it’s like having 1½,” an officer said.

The mothballing of the LÉ Eithne would also have implications for the service’s search-and-rescue capabilities, sources said. It is the only ship capable of refuelling helicopters at sea which effectively doubles the range of the Coast Guard’s Sikorsky helicopters.

The ship’s helipad has not been used for many years but helicopters are able to winch a fuel hose up to them while hovering above.

—————————————————————The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence, Leo Varadkar, has said the Naval Service is short staffed and will be “cutting its cloth to suit the measure”.

Does this mean that Foreign fishing vessels and drug sugglers can take advantage?

Will the  purchase of 200 million Euro warship for “service at home and abroad” be abandoned?

Taoiseach acknowledges Naval Service is short staffed

RTE  8 Jul 2019 15:09

The Taoiseach has said the Naval Service is short staffed and will be “cutting its cloth to suit the measure”.

Leo Varadkar said he was briefed on the matter and that crews will now be spread across five ships instead of seven.

His comments follow a letter, published in the Irish Times over the weekend, in which Commodore Michael Malone said the ships’ companies had spoken about the pressure they were under by not having the ships fully manned.

He said this was exacerbated by operating nine ships while only having the manpower for six-and-a-half ships.

Commodore Malone said he had taken the decision that the Naval Service now needed to “cut our cloth to measure”.

He said he would achieve that by placing the LÉ Eithne and LÉ Orla in an operational reserve capacity until “adequate numbers of sufficiently qualified and experienced personnel are available”.

In a response on twitter, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe said the ships were in dock for planned maintenance and the crews were redeployed to other vessels.

Fianna Fáil’s Defence spokesperson Jack Chambers said there has been “too much spin and deflection” on the retention crisis in the Defence Forces.

He accused Mr Kehoe of being in a “bunker of denial” over reports that two naval ships had been taken out of service due to insufficient crew numbers.

Minister Kehoe should immediately publish every naval ship maintenance schedule for 2019 to verify his new claims. There’s been too much spin and deflection on this ongoing retention crisis …


Jul 7, 2019



Political row over two docked Naval ships deepens

Minister denied two ships were docked over crew shortages, citing ‘maintenance’


Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Chambers said he was quite surprised that Minister Kehoe would so publically dismiss the concerns of such a senior officer in the Defence Forces.


—————————————————————Two of seven(9?) navy Ships to Be Tied up due to Lack of Staff-Irish Examiner

Will Purchase of 200 Million Euro Warship (MRV) for service “at home and abroad” be scrapped?

“PDforra has repeatedly stated in recent years that the naval service does not have the manpower to run all of its ships and criticised the lack of proper accommodation for sailors at the Naval headquarters in Haulbowline Island.

As a result of poor pay and soaring rents, up to 80 sailors are currently sleeping on ships when off-duty. PDforra president Mark Keane told the committee that on average 11 or 12 were sleeping nightly on each ship.”

Irish Examiner  June 28,2019

A tie-up of two ships in port indefinitely is planned by the Naval Service due to a deepening manpower crisis. Of the three services in the Defence Forces, the naval service is suffering the most from a haemorrhage of personnel for better paid jobs in the public sector.

The Irish Examiner has learned that the nine-ship fleet will be reduced to seven as the navy’s flagship, LÉ Eithne, and coastal patrol vessel LÉ Orla will be taken off operational duty for the foreseeable future. Despite her age, LÉ Ciara, which was purchased from the British in 1988, is to remain on patrol.

Ideally, the navy’s newer P60s — LÉ Róisín, LÉ Niamh, LÉ Samuel Beckett, LÉ James Joyce, and LÉ William Butler Yeats — should each have a crew of 50, but are normally operational with 45. Sources in the naval service have indicated the manpower crisis had often led in recent times to them sailing with crew numbers as low as 34.

Both the LÉ Eithne and LÉ Ciara were due for major refits, but according to a source will receive “minor maintenance to achieve a certain readiness level” in the event they need to be redeployed during a major emergency.

In a statement, the Defence Forces press office said Flag Officer Commanding the naval service, Commodore Michael Malone, was “currently managing the consolidation of naval service assets”. This was “due to ongoing personnel challenges and to Óglaigh na hÉireann’s commitment to valuing its personnel, their welfare and safety”.

It added that military authorities continue to examine all recommendations and options with the aim of maximising the effectiveness of the Maritime Defence and Security Operations. The general secretary of PDforra, which represents enlisted men in the Defence Forces, told an Oireachtas committee yesterday that “the navy is in a dire state”.

Gerard Guinan, whose association represents more than 6,500 enlisted personnel in the Defence Forces, told the Oireachtas committee on Justice, Defence, and Equality that the “naval service was down personnel, probably to its lowest level ever.”

He said the delay in the publication of the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) report into possible improvements of allowances for the Defence Forces “has been extremely frustrating” for his members, who are the lowest paid public servants.

“To say we’re angry[about the delay] is an understatement,” said Mr Guinan.

It is expected this report will now be published next Tuesday. Leaks suggest the PSPC is only recommending a small increase in allowances, amounting to 96 cent per day after tax for Defence Forces personnel.

Mr Guinan said: “96 cent a day after tax won’t be enough to save the navy. It is not an overstatement to say we have lost significant numbers of highly qualified and outstanding soldiers, sailors and aircrew over the past few years.

They were forced from a career that they loved and that owed them much more than they ever received. But, they might have stayed if only some earlier intervention had occurred.

PDforra has repeatedly stated in recent years that the naval service does not have the manpower to run all of its ships and criticised the lack of proper accommodation for sailors at the Naval headquarters in Haulbowline Island.

As a result of poor pay and soaring rents, up to 80 sailors are currently sleeping on ships when off-duty. PDforra president Mark Keane told the committee that on average 11 or 12 were sleeping nightly on each ship.

“The older ships do 26-day cycle patrols and are then back in [port] for 16 days,” he said. “The sailors are working onboard 60-70 hours a week and then sleeping on the same ships when they are off duty. They deserve a proper place to go and put their heads down at night.”

————————————————————–Dáil Motion to Restore Defence Forces Pay and Allowances  June 13,2019

Those TDs who Voted With Fine Gael in Dáil against Motion for Restoration of Defence Forces Pay and Allowances:

Minister  Shane Ross Independent Alliance, Dublin Rathdown; Minister Sean Canney, Ind Galway, Minister Katherine Zappone, Ind  Dublin South West


Those TDs who Did not formally Abstain but Went Missing and, therefore, did not vote for Restoration of Defence Forces Pay and Allowances:

Minister  John Halligan (Ind Alliance) Waterford; Minister “Boxer” Moran (Ind Alliance)  Longford Westmeath; Minister Finian Mcgrath, Dublin Artane; Michael Lowry Ind Co Tipperary; Michael  Harty Ind Co Clare;  Noel Grealish Ind Galway; Michael Healy-Rae Ind Co Kerry; Danny Healy-Rae  Ind Co Kerry.


The Private Members Motion Proposed by Fianna Fáil and successfully amended by Sinn Féin was carried in the Dáil by a 2 to 1 majority of Deputies present and voting

The Dáil divided: Tá(Yes), 77; Níl(No), 38; Staon(Abstain), 0.

Despite the clearly expressed will of the Dáil the Government has made clear that it has no intention of implementing the motion.

It can do this because a private members motion is not a Law and is not binding on Government under Dáil rules. If the content of the motion were proposed in Bill, it would be ruled out of order because it impinges on government finances. This is done by the Ceann Chomhairle attaching “a money message” to the proposals. This would still be the case even if the Bill contained proposals to cover the increased state expenditure by new taxation. Opposition deputies and  parties cannot legislate in relation to government finances in any way even if the measure commands a majority in the Dáil.!! So much for Democracy.

The Political Context

But the present government does not have a Dáil majority. Hence, Fianna Fáil is in a position to force the government to implement the contents of the motion or to face defeat in the Dail on the budget (next October) and an immediate General Election thereafter. However the estimates for Government Departments, including Defence, are not specifically subjected to a Dáil vote until the Finance Bill is put to a vote in December next..

The probable next British prime minister says that by October 31,2019,  UK will either have agreed a Brexit Deal with EU or will leave without a deal. It would be very unwise to rely on such declarations as literally anything could happen in the UK in current circumstances.

However, it is well to bear this in mind as the reason given by Fianna Fáil for keeping the minority government in power is the danger of a “no deal” Brexit and the impact that this would have on the Irish economy.

Four by-elections must take place by February 2020 as a result of Dáil deputies being elected to the European Parliament unless there is a General Election before then.

Fine Gael did not win a majority of votes or seats in any of these 4 constituencies in the 2016 General Election.

Government expressions of intention to hold these by-elections should be treated with extreme caution

——————————————————————-Text of Motion

The following motion was moved by Deputy Jack Chambers on Wednesday, 12 June 2019:

That Dáil Éireann:

notes that:

— the approved strength of the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF) currently stands at 9,500;

— at the end of March 2019 there were 8,847 personnel, compared to 9,057 at the end of February 2018;

— 3,200 personnel left the PDF between 2014 and 2018, a figure which equates to 34.7 per cent of the average strength for those years, with 82 per cent of these being premature voluntary retirements;

— the turnover rate in the PDF now stands at 9 per cent overall, with a rate of 14 per cent in the Naval Service;

— there were 256 discharges in the first four months of 2019, by far the largest figure since the reorganisation of 2012; and

— in April 2019 alone, there were 86 discharges, a figure not previously matched in a single month;

further notes:

— the ongoing priority given, by Government, to costly recruitment policies;

— the absence of any retention policy for the Defence Forces;

— the underspend of €92.3 million from 2014 to 2018 in the Defence Estimate (Vote 36);

— the high turnover rate that is leading to the creation of a difficult and challenging training environment for remaining service personnel;

— that some personnel are double- and treble-jobbing in an effort to maintain operational output;

— that insufficient supervision and mentoring combined with poor trained manning levels is leading to unavoidable burnout;

— that there are serious concerns for governance, and the ability to manage risk and ensure the wellbeing of personnel; and

— that recent surveys have illustrated the mental health difficulties, increased stress and low morale being experienced by PDF personnel;

accepts that:

— the impact of operating with reduced numbers is already being felt across the Defence Forces;

— the Army is struggling to fulfil its assigned tasks, domestically and internationally;

— ships are unable to go to sea and aircraft are not flying as a result of personnel shortages;

— defence capability is being seriously undermined; and

— reduced governance increases operational and personnel risk; and

calls for:

— the restoration of military allowances to pre-Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest levels, especially in view of the underspend from 2014 to 2018, to include the service commitment scheme for Air Corps pilots and fixed-period promotion for Special Service Officers;

— the restoration of the supplementary pension for post 2013 entrants;

— a review of the PDF organisation to provide for a training and overseas establishment, bringing the PDF personnel numbers up to 10,500 across all ranks and formations/services;

— a permanent and independent Defence Forces pay body to be established;

— Defence Forces representative organisations to be able to take up associate membership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions;

— greater military expertise in the Department of Defence, who have made some concerning and damaging decisions affecting the Defence Forces;

— the enhancement of the input and discretion of military management in decisions over current and capital spending;

— the implementation of the Working Time Directive, which the Government is currently not implementing properly;

— a clear and defined role for the Reserve Defence Forces, that would enable them to play a meaningful and worthwhile part in support to the PDF; and

— the undertaking of a comprehensive independent review (involving external and international expertise) of defence policy, the Defence Forces and the role of the Department of Defence.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 3:

To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:


— that the Irish people shares its great pride in our Defence Forces and the contribution made by the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF) and the Reserve Defence Forces (RDF);

— Ireland’s long and well respected history of participating in overseas missions under United Nations (UN) mandates and acknowledges that the Defence Forces have played a vital role as peacekeepers all over the world, in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in UN and UN-mandated peace support missions and, today, some 673 members of the PDF are serving overseas in various parts of the world;

— those members of the Defence Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the State, including those on overseas peacekeeping missions;

— the dedication and professionalism of the Defence Forces;

— the ongoing implementation of the Government’s White Paper on Defence; and

— the challenges that are faced in relation to recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces;


— that the Department of Defence has civil and military branches, consistent with its constitutional and statutory mandate;

— that the Secretary General heads the civil element while the Chief of Staff heads the military element of the Department of Defence;

— that both civil and military elements provide supports to the Minister for Defence, and that the Chief of Staff has direct and independent access to the Minister for the provision of military advice;

— that ultimately command and management of the Defence Forces is by the Minister for Defence, on behalf of the Government, ensuring appropriate oversight of defence and of the Defence Forces;

— the importance of the White Paper on Defence, which was prepared by joint civil and military steering and working groups, in providing a defence policy in keeping with Ireland’s defence requirements for the period to 2025 and comprehending a developmental and strategic approach to defence provision, including the ongoing modernisation of defence equipment;

— that the finalisation of the White Paper in June 2015 included, at the arrangement of the Minister for Defence, Dáil statements which provided members with an opportunity for final inputs and that, furthermore, there has been engagement with the relevant Oireachtas Joint Committee on any or all aspects of the White Paper as might be desired by Committee members;

— that a key feature of the White Paper is the provision for future-proofing of policy and capabilities through a new process of fixed cycle defence reviews with a Strategic Defence Review to commence in early 2021, while a White Paper Update commenced last year and is being overseen by a joint civil-military steering group;

— that the Government’s commitment to the Defence Forces capability is evidenced through a 2019 provision for gross expenditure of some €1,007 million, an increase of €60 million or 6.4 per cent over 2018, while the capital allocation has increased to €106 million, an increase of 38 per cent on the 2018 allocation;

— that a significant portion of the Defence budget is delegated to the Chief of Staff, to facilitate the exercise of his functions;

— that all major investment decisions are made via joint civil-military work and approved through a joint, co-chaired, civil-military forum and that this collaborative civil-military approach operates successfully within the Department of Defence;

— that this investment will see the replacement and upgrade of significant equipment platforms over the life-time of the White Paper, including an upgrade of the Army’s fleet of armoured personnel carriers (APCs), enhancement of the capabilities of the Army Ranger Wing, replacement of the Air Corps’ Cessna fleet, CASA Maritime Patrol Aircraft and the Naval Service’s flagship LÉ Eithne;

— that there is a sustained programme of investment in barracks infrastructure to improve accommodation and other facilities across the country;

— the range of actions in place for the development of Defence Forces human resources, training, education, family friendly and a range of other supports;

— the development of flexible and adaptive military capabilities as a pragmatic approach to dealing with future uncertainty and the roles assigned, and that capability commitments outlined in the White Paper include maintenance of a PDF establishment of at least 9,500 personnel;

— that specific shortages in specialist areas are being addressed and that work is underway aimed at addressing these particular challenges;

— the efforts to accelerate the rate of recruitment to the RDF within means and resources;

— that in relation to the Working Time Directive, legislation is currently being considered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and civil-military work is underway to achieve a graduated solution which respects the unique operational requirements of a military force; and

— that membership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) by Defence Forces representative associations, as recommended in a recent review of the Defence Forces C&A Scheme, is now under consideration, and that the discussion with ICTU is considering feasibility, taking account of the need to recognise the prohibition on the right to strike, the tasks that Government may require the Defence Forces to undertake, and the necessity that command and control arrangements and military discipline are un-impinged; and

further notes that:

— the focus of pay increases under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 has been those on lower pay and that by the end of the current Agreement, the pay scales of all public servants (including members of the Defence Forces), earning under €70,000 per annum, will be restored to pre-Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest levels;

— public sector pay policy is determined centrally by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, having regard to public sector pay agreements, and that independent sectoral pay determination bodies, such as one for the Defence Forces, is not consistent with this approach;

— public service pension provisions are laid down in statute and apply across the public service; and

— the Public Service Pay Commission has examined recruitment and retention issues in the defence sector and that its report will be considered by Government and form the basis of engagement with parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020.

– (Minister of State at the Department of Defence)

————————————————————Varadkar,  Fine Gael Minister for Defence And Taoiseach, Refuses Call for full Restoration of Pay, Allowances and Pensions of Defence Forces by Seamus Healy TD in Dáil at Leaders Questions

DEFENCE FORCE Personnel must be treated no less Favourably than Gardaí and Nurses—Healy

Full Debate

Deputy Seamus Healy (Independent Deputy, Chair of Workers and Unemployed Action, Co Tipperary)

The Taoiseach is the Minister for Defence and is responsible to the Dáil and the public for the state of the Defence Forces. During the recent local election campaign, the undermining of our Defence Forces  by government was one of the most frequently raised issues on the doorstep. It is clear that the policy being pursued by the Taoiseach and his Government, which that commenced with the so-called reorganisation of the Defence Forces and the closure of barracks in 2012, has led to a crisis in the service. There have been significant reductions in numbers, pay, allowances, pensions and conditions of service. There is low morale, anxiety, increased stress and mental health difficulties among serving personnel.

On 1 March this year under the Taoiseach’s watch, there were 210 fewer serving personnel than on 1 March last year. Some 3,200 personnel left the Defence Forces between 2014 and 2018. In the first four months of this year, there were 256 discharges. Staff shortages mean that ships are unable to go to sea and aircraft are unable to fly. This is a picture of a service that is not fit for purpose due to the deliberate policy of this Government.

Please do not tell us that we do not have the money to resource and pay our Defence Forces properly. Ireland is the eighth richest country in the world. We know that the top 10% of financial asset holders have €50 billion more than they had at peak boom levels in 2006, yet they are not asked to pay a single cent in tax on that windfall. We know that the top 10% of income recipients pay a smaller proportion of their incomes in tax than the lowest 10%. In today’s edition of the Irish Examiner, Social Justice Ireland confirmed that the poor in this country are subsidising the rich through tax reliefs.

I wish to take this opportunity to commend the community group, Respect and Loyalty, which is campaigning to raise awareness about the plight of our Defence Forces and is lobbying for the restoration of pay, allowances and pensions.

The Taoiseach is the Minister for Defence. In view of the crisis affecting the Defence Forces and the resulting national danger that he and his Government have allowed to develop, why has the matter of allowances not been addressed in line with allowances in other public sector bodies? Will the Taoiseach fully restore to pre-2008 levels the pay, allowances, conditions of service and pensions of serving and retired members of the Defence Forces immediately?


The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence


I thank the Deputy very much for raising this important issue. I confirm to the House that the Cabinet yesterday approved the deployment of the Army ranger wing to the UN mission in Mali. That will require a motion of the House, so I ask for the House’s support for that. It is the first time in nearly ten years that the rangers have been deployed in this way. It is something that the Defence Forces very much welcome. It is a big part of our peacekeeping efforts and our commitment to the UN, but it also will help them to maintain and develop their skills. I know it has been very much welcomed by the Defence Forces.

We are investing in our Defence Forces. The budget for defence this year is €50 million higher than last year. What does that mean? It means new vessels. Our fleet has never been as modern as it is now. It means new aircraft—–

Deputy Bobby Aylward (Fianna Fáil, Carlow-Kilkenny)


They have no personnel, though.

The Taoiseach


—–including fishery protection aircraft that are arriving this year.

Deputy Mattie McGrath(Rural Independent, Co Tipperary)


The personnel are all leaving.

The Taoiseach


It means improvement to our barracks. It means new equipment. It also means increased pay, pay restoration and increased pensions. It is not the case that money is handed back at the end of the year—–

Deputy Eamon Scanlon (Fianna Fáil, Sligo-Leitrim)


It is.

Deputy Bobby Aylward  (FF)


The Defence Forces need personnel if they are to work.


The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence


—–even though that has been claimed by some. Recruitment is going very well but retention is not. I absolutely acknowledge that a large number of people are leaving our Defence Forces for various reasons, not least the fact that, because they are so well skilled, their skills are very much sought after in the private sector where there are also major skill shortages and labour shortages because of full employment.

When it comes to the issue of pay – I acknowledge that pay is an issue for a lot of members of our Defence Forces – the public sector stability agreement, the deal that we did with ICTU and all the trade unions that covers 300,000 public servants, applies to the Defence Forces as well. That means ongoing pay restoration. For the vast majority of public servants, including the vast majority of people in the Defence Forces, they will have their pay fully restored by October of next year. That is already happening in tranches.

However, the Deputy is asking me to single out one group, the Defence Forces, and fully restore their pay, pensions and allowances before everyone else’s. While that might appeal to me as the Minister for Defence, I could not possibly do that as Taoiseach because that would be totally unfair to all the other public servants—–

Deputy Mattie McGrath (Rural Independent, Co Tipperary)


Appoint a Minister.

The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence


—–including civil servants, local authority workers, nurses, teachers, doctors, all the people who work in this House and all the people who work in the public service all over the country.

Deputy Barry Cowen (FF Offaly,  Fianna Fáil Front Bench Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform)


This situation is a little bit worse (in PDF) than the Garda’s.

Deputy Mattie McGrath(Rural Independent)


Get out the violin.

The Taoiseach


It would simply be not right or fair to restore Defence Forces pay and pensions fully ahead of everyone else in the public service.

Deputy Bobby Aylward(FF)


They were (right and fair) for the teachers and gardaí.


The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence


Everyone must have restoration happening at the same time. Nor would it be affordable to do what Deputy Healy is asking. The public sector pay bill is nearly €18 billion a year. A 2% increase alone is €360 million. We have heard the advice and the criticisms from the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council telling us that we are increasing spending too fast. The Opposition needs to hear that advice as well. If we are going to listen to that advice and heed it and keep spending increases where they should be at around 4% or 5% per year—–

Deputy Barry Cowen (FF,  Fianna Fáil Front  Bench Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform)


The Taoiseach said that everything would come from future revenues.

Deputy Brendan Howlin (Labour Party, Co Wexford)


Or by cutting taxes.

The Taoiseach


—–we need the Opposition to stop demanding additional spending everyday.

Deputy Barry Cowen (FF)


The Government tells us that its overruns will be covered by future revenues.

The Taoiseach


The Opposition—–

Deputy Micheál Martin (Leader of Fianna Fáil)


The Taoiseach is throwing the kitchen sink at—–

An Ceann Comhairle


The Taoiseach without interruption, please.

Deputy Barry Cowen  (FF)


The Government’s forecasts are not credible.

The Taoiseach


The Opposition has a responsibility as well. Government has heard that message. We are going to heed it. We are going to try to keep spending increases under control—–

Deputy Barry Cowen (FF)


The party of fiscal rectitude, of course.

Deputy Micheál Martin (FF Leader))


The Government should keep telling itself that.

The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence


—–at around 4% or 5% this year.

Deputy Barry Cowen (FF)


That is going down well.

The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence


We also need the Oireachtas to get that too because we cannot get a budget, Estimates or Supplementary Estimates through, if they are necessary—–

Deputy Brendan Howlin(Labour leader))


But there will be €1 billion in tax cuts.

The Taoiseach


—–without the support of this House. We also need this House to reorientate its attitude to these things as well and come with us in trying to keep public spending under control.

Deputy Micheál Martin (FF Leader)


It is the Government that made all the promises.

Deputy Barry Cowen(FF)


Go to Mullingar, never mind Mali.

Deputy Pat Deering (Fine Gael, Carlow-Kilkenny)


Does Deputy Cowen remember the Galway tent?

Deputy Barry Cowen(FF)


That is gone. This Government will be gone one day, too. It will not hang on as easily as it did last time.


Deputy Seamus Healy  (WUAG, Co Tipperary) Replies to Taoiseach

Time and again, we have heard the mantra of the public service pay agreement. It has been repeated ad nauseam this afternoon. I remind the Taoiseach that, in November 2016, the Government gave the average garda an extra €4,000 per annum through an increase in rent allowance and other concessions under a €50 million deal.

I remind the Taoiseach that when he and his Government dealt with the nursing dispute under the public service pay agreement, the nursing recruitment crisis forced them to back down and make significant concessions to nurses in pay and allowances. We have a similar situation in our Defence Forces at present. The Taoiseach has acknowledged the significant difficulties that exist in the Defence Forces. The cases of the gardaí and the nurses offer the Government a clear precedent in dealing with the issues in the Defence Forces. All it takes is political will on the part of the Government to ensure the Defence Forces are properly paid and get their proper allowances. It is a matter of political will for the Government to ensure pay and allowances are restored in full immediately. The Government should do this now.

The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence


It is not simply “a matter of political will”. As a Government, we need to see the bigger picture.

Deputy Seamus Healy(WUAG)


The Government has done it twice already (for other groups).


The Taoiseach


There were disputes with the gardaí and two of the nurses’ unions. Those disputes were resolved following negotiations and, in the end, in the Labour Court. In resolving those disputes, we needed to make sure we did not bring down the entire public sector pay agreement. We cannot afford to bring it down. We are trying to resolve the Defence Forces pay dispute. We asked the Public Sector Pay Commission to examine issues like allowances that are specific to the Defence Forces. The commission has reported. We have the report and we will bring it to the Cabinet in the next couple of weeks. I hope that will be adequate to resolve this issue. We cannot provide a fast track to pay restoration and additional allowances to one group of public servants without accepting that it will have a knock-on effect across the board.

Deputy Seamus Healy (WUAG)


It was done for two groups already.

The Taoiseach


It will have a knock-on effect across the board. The public sector pay bill is €17 billion or €18 billion a year. An increase of 2% across the board would amount to €360 million. That is not something we can afford to do.

Deputy Seamus Healy(WUAG)


The Defence Forces are entitled to the same treatment (as the Gardaí and the Nurses).


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