Veterans to march through Cork demanding better pay for members of the Navy

Veterans to march through Cork demanding better pay for members of the Navy

More than 400 soldiers, sailors and members of the air corps have flocked from the Defence Forces in the last four years, before finishing their training.

A PARADE will be held in Cork next Saturday to highlight concerns about pay and conditions of members of the Navy.

The Parade for Respect and Loyalty will take place at 12 noon on the Grand Parade and is being held to raise support for the Navy members.

It will follow the commissioning tomorrow of the latest Naval ship, the LE George Bernard Shaw, in Waterford tomorrow.

And it comes after a series of parades and actions last year by veteran Defence Force members and the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces.

One of the organisers, Defence Forces veteran Noel O'Callaghan said: "Our Navy has nine ships, of which two are in dry dock due to a shortage of sailors. To keep the other seven ships at sea they have to change around crews, and have unqualified sailors in specific appointments."

He said the concentration should instead be on pay, allowances and contracts of existing members.

Last October, PDFORRA raised concerns at their annual conference about Naval personnel having to sleep on Naval ships when on time off because they cannot afford to go home and they cannot afford accommodation. The organisation said this situation is continuing because of a lack of investment in accommodation at Haulbowline.

Irish Naval Service patrol vessel LE James Joyce tied up at the naval base at Haulbowline. Pic; Larry Cummins.
Irish Naval Service patrol vessel LE James Joyce tied up at the naval base at Haulbowline. Pic; Larry Cummins.

Many are long distances from home but cannot meet the rents in areas including Carrigaline and Douglas, which are close to the Haulbowline naval base.

More than 400 soldiers, sailors and members of the air corps have flocked from the Defence Forces in the last four years, before finishing their training.

According to figures from the Department of Defence provided to The Echo under the Freedom of Information Act last October, 171 recruits out of 615 taken in “purchased their discharge” in 2017. Purchasing their discharge means they left the service of their own accord and had to pay at least €300 to leave.

Figures from the Department of Defence show that the 171 recruits who left in 2017 all left of their own accord, while 123 of recruits who left the service in 2016 also left by their own choice. 62 out of 307 recruits were discharged from service in 2015, with 50 of those having bought their discharge. And up to October last year, 70 had already left of their own accord, out of an intake of 321 recruits in that period.

Mr O'Callaghan said recruitment cannot solve the personnel issues in the Defence Forces, because of the exodus of members.

He stressed: "Retention is the key - and the key to retention is providing our Defence Forces with wages, allowances and contracts that give them and their family the same security and stability that they give our citizens and our country."

Pdforra and RACO, which represents officers in the Defence Forces, have both sent submissions to the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) on behalf of their members seeking better pay.

A decision is due on those in the coming months.

The Navy is currently recruiting now accepting applications for Officer Cadetships in Naval Service Operations, Naval Service Electrical Engineer andNaval Service Marine Engineer.

Candidates must be 18 years of age or above and under 26 years of age on September 1. The closing date for applications is Sunday, May 12.

The entry-level pay for cadets is €18,829 and the top level is €30,147.

There are currently just under 1,000 members in the Irish Navy.

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