MEMBERS of the Defence Forces in Cork are being forced to turn to illegal money lenders to handle back-to-school costs and many are already dreading the cost of Christmas.
Cork-based spokesperson for the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces (WPDF), Shelly Cotter, said they are trying to raise awareness of the stress and strain of families of the Defence Forces are under.
“I know a number of people who are struggling to meet the costs of sending their children to school and are already worrying about Christmas.”
Mrs Cotter, whose husband has been in the Naval service for the past 27 years, has four children of school going age and said she has to save all year round to pay the bills associated with this time of year.
“People don’t realise how bad things are, it’s horrific.” Mrs Cotter said. “The WPDF is in constant contact with SVP, Threshold and a number of other services, trying to help members.” Mrs Cotter said there is also a Defence Forces Classifieds page where members share discounts, jobs or put up school books they no longer need.
According to a 2013 study, over 20% of enlisted personnel are in receipt of Family Income Support (FIS) and according to Mrs Cotter, many families are blacklisted from Banks and Credit Unions due to their inability to pay back funds.
As well as this compensation for working a 24hr shift has been cut by more than 50% from €40 a day to just under €20, with no additional pay for weekend duties or bank holidays.
Mrs Cotter told the Evening Echo that her eldest son has followed her husband into the Defence Forces.
“It is not the job I wanted for him, but it is all he wanted. He has been in it five years now. He is a single man, he doesn’t have a family to support, so he manages, but he has told me there were men and women with families that have had to leave.” Mrs Cotter said her son adores the job he does and she just wishes he was paid properly for the work.
“He adores the job, not the conditions, but the job. I would just like to see members paid properly. A fair pay for a fair day’s work.”