THE wives and partners of soldiers and sailors are planning a national protest at the headquarters of the Defence Forces to highlight concerns about pay and conditions in the army and Navy.
The recently formed Wife and Partners of the Defence Forces group, which originated in Cork, is organising the protest following local protests at each military location across the country last week – including Collins Barracks and the Naval Base in Haulbowline.
And the group is also seeking a meeting with the Minister with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe.
A spokeswoman for the group said: “Now is the time to move on with our campaign especially since our government think it is acceptable to advertise for a new position of Assistant Secretary, Defence Capability at the Department of Defence. The salary for this position (according to the advertisement on publicjobs.ie) starts at €128,682 (Personal Pension Contribution) and €122,313 (Non-PPC). We firmly believe that this is outrageous particularly at a time when at least 1 in 4 of our enlisted personnel are on Family Income Supplement.”
She added: “We continue to receive gut wrenching emails and messages from troubled families clearly describing the hardship they encounter daily. Parents of children doing state exams are struggling to pay for these exams while others struggle with medical bills including paying for necessary medication and orthodontics for their children.”
The WPDF group revealed some families of soldiers and sailors have to resort to moneylenders for events such as Christmas and First Communions.
Following last week’s protests, Minister Kehoe said he would be willing to meet representatives of the WPDF.
The group are planning to first have their meeting with Minister Kehoe, before organising a date for the national protest.
The spokeswoman said: “We expect that Minister Kehoe will revert back to us this week with a date for this meeting. We look forward to engaging in dialogue with the Minister, presenting our concerns and above all identifying suitable strategies and action which will attempt to alleviate the hardship of our families.”
The decision to set up the group followed comments by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, last November in which he ruled out the possibility of Defence Forces personnel getting access to the State’s industrial relations mechanisms.