Co Kildare Defence Forces join in national protests outside Leinster House today despite Storm Ali

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Co Kildare Defence Forces join in national protests outside Leinster House today despite Storm Ali
By Louise McCarthy 13:44 Wednesday 19th of September 2018

A Newbridge woman is part of a national group integral to protests in Dublin today calling for improved pay and conditions for the Defence Forces.

Sarah Walshe, midlands representative for  the group Wives and Partners of Defence Forces, handed over a petition at Leinster House today.

This protest is the culmination of months of petitioning for improved pay and conditions. Initially the petition was kickstarted by young members of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. The protest is being led by Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces along with retired Defence Forces members.

Not having enough food to feed their children for dinner, struggling to find accommodation and paying for petrol are common complaints for Defence Forces members at The Curragh Camp, according to Newbridge based woman, Sarah Walshe, midlands representative for Wives and Partners of Defence Forces.

The petition says: “It’s a national disgrace that a significant number of Defence Forces personnel receive family income supplement. No soldier, sailor or airman of the state should ever have to receive social welfare,It’s time to end this scandal.”

Despite Storm Ali raging through the country thousands gathered for the protest.

Defence Forces members are expressing outrage that they will just receive €48 extra per day, for overtime duties,  in addition to their basic pay.

Meanwhile, a newly married Curragh based soldier along with his wife and children are facing the threat of homelessness  due to high rental prices in Co Kildare.

The couple in their mid-twenties, have two young children, and both work full-time. The private at The Curragh also worked as a bar-man, until recently. His wife is a shop supervisor. They have been forced to share a house with relatives, sharing the €1,300 per month rent. The soldier and his wife have been paying €700 per month.

The soldier’s wife, who does not wish to be named said: “I can work anytime from 7am to 11pm, I can go a full week without seeing my children go to bed. We don’t want handouts, we feel that we are being penalised for working. We just want somewhere to live that is affordable, that is not putting us in debt.”

According to the Department of Defence statement: “The starting pay for a newly qualified three star private, and their Naval Service equivalent, (inclusive of military service allowance) is now €27,257, gross annual earnings, with scope for further income from duty allowances. This is a significant increase on the €21,800 per annum which was the annual amount prior to the implementation of the increases in pay received through recent pay agreements. The starting pay for a Corporal, including Military Service Allowance, is over €37,000 per annum. The first point on the payscale for a Sergeant, including Military Service Allowance, is €40,000 per annum.”

Cllr Fiona O'Loughlin Healy supporting calls for improved pay and conditions for Defence Forces

Sarah Walshe and retired Defence Forces member Gerard Fogarty

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