A FORMER soldier in Collins Barracks has branded the current pay and conditions in the army as “plain wrong and disrespectful”.
Mark Lynch from Dromahane, near Mallow, retired just over a month ago from his position as acting company sergeant of the 1 Field Engineer Company in Collins Barracks. He said that although he loved his job, he got “fed up of constantly giving bad news” to his staff because of lack of resources in the Defence Forces.
He was speaking out as a Fianna Fáil motion before the Dáil on securing improved pay and conditions for the Defence Forces was passed yesterday.
The motion, which was opposed by the Government, comes before the Government is due to publish recommendations on pay and conditions in the Defence Forces from the Public Sector Pay Commission next week.
His interview also follows The Echo’s revelation on Thursday that members of the navy are leaving to take up jobs in German discount retailers, for better pay and conditions.
“As the only engineer unit in the south, we were responsible for aiding the civil authorities with any search requests or aid after storms where we provided chainsaw operators to the ESB and plant operators to Wexford after the snow storm,” Mr Lynch said. “These lads were coming into work before the red weather-warning and staying there, while the rest of the country was going home, and they were happy to do it and help. But it was wrong to expect them to do this without paying them appropriately.”
“Those are things that happen occasionally, but I don’t think people realise how stretched we really are [in the Defence Forces].”
He elaborated: “The weekend with their family is not just a privilege for these people but an entitlement, so when you have to keep sending people on details at the weekend to perform a display, erect tents and take them down over a Friday and Saturday, or driving a truck full of water on a weekend to marathon water stations at 6am in the morning on the promise of a day off, which they won’t be able to take until we are less busy, which could be weeks away, it is all just plain wrong and disrespectful.”
He warned that a lack of experience will be a problem for the Defence Forces because of the large numbers leaving.