Defence Forces picket outside politicians’ offices

By Maurice Garvey 

APPALLING pay and conditions endured by those in the Defence Forces saw retired members picketing politicians’ constituency offices across the country.

In Clondalkin Village on Saturday, former Defence Forces members picketed to remind local politicians that they “have a vote”

Army Lads Protest 02

Defence Force members picketed outside the offices of elected representatives in Clondalkin

Anthony Gallagher, a Harelawn resident and member of the Defence Forces from 1976 to 2007, served two tours in the Lebanon.

“Serving soldiers can’t protest, so we decided to hold pickets and let all our local TDs know that we haven’t gone away,” said Anthony.

“Unlike the gardai, we have no union, although we do have a representative association.

"The pay and conditions are very bad. Even to this day, you have a lot of young soldiers taking their own lives.”

Poor pay has led to a huge exodus from the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps since the start of the year.

There was much public criticism of government cuts to the Defence Forces, when it was discovered that members were being paid less than the national minimum wage unless they worked additional hours.

Some members have also been forced to pay a fee to the State in order to buy themselves out of the military.

One of the picket’s chief organisers in the country, retired regimental sergeant Noel O’Callaghan, said politicians should realise the military family contains a membership “in excess of 100,000”.

He said they had been betrayed by “unacceptable pay and conditions” and the betrayal “extends to the Defence Forces being downgraded to a junior minister representing defence when in actual fact the real minister for defence is the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.”

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