Defence Forces members are frustrated at being called to work for Pope's visit without extra pay & being asked to sleep on camp beds

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Defence Forces members are frustrated at being called to work for Pope's visit without extra pay & being asked to sleep on camp beds
By Louise McCarthy 21:06 Tuesday 14th of August 2018

A Co Kildare woman, part of a group rallying behind the Defence Forces members, is expressing outrage that those called to duty on the Pope's visit will not get additional pay.

Sarah Walshe, the midlands representative for the group Wives & Partners of the Defence Forces, is supporting calls for additional pay to be given to the Defence Forces called on duty on the Pope's visit over August 24, 25 and 26.

A statement from a disgruntled Defence Forces member said: "We will be three days away from home over the whole weekend. There will be no extra pay for this of course as well as that we were informed that we will be sleeping on safari beds. We will depart our barracks in the very early hours of Friday and won’t be back until Monday and of course without any extra pay. We are aware that this is not an annual event but there are other events that we attend and always without any extra pay leaving our families behind even at times when they need us."

 The statement said: "The morale is so low at present and it seems to be only getting worse."

Ms Walshe is deeply concerned that Defence Force members on the most recently updated contracts,  introduced after the 1990s, are living in poverty.

According to Ms Walshe  there are Defence Forces at The Curragh struggling to pay for nappies and feed their children.

Meanwhile, at the National Memorial Merrion Square, on September 19, at 11.45pm,  an event will take place honouring the work of past and present members and aims to highlight the need for improved pay and conditions.

Meanwhile a statement from the Defence Forces said: "The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for the internal security of the State. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power which, in practice, means to assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. In relation to the mass in the Phoenix Park, An Garda Síochána have requested the assistance of the Defence Forces in a security and support role before and during the mass. For operational and security reasons it is not possible to comment on the security aspects of the request. I can confirm that the Defence Forces will be providing  assistance to the Gardaí in a support role by assisting with the movement of patrons, assisting patrons with directions and assisting Gardaí in the event of an emergency. As the full details of the tasks required is still being finalised, it is not possible to specify the exact numbers involved at this time."

The Defence Forces statement said:" Defence Force members on duty in support of An Garda Síochána during the Papal visit will receive Security Duty Allowance. With reference to safari bed accommodation, all available beds in Cathal Brugha Barracks, McKee Barracks and Gormanston Camp will be utilised for personnel on duty over the visit, with the surplus being accommodated on safari beds on the gymnasium floor, Cathal Brugha Barracks. "


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