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‘They're leaving in droves’

Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 4:52pm

Morale is at an all-time low for Ireland’s “battered and broken” Defence Forces.

That’s the opinion of Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces (WPDF) spokesperson Shelley Cotter whose husband and son are currently serving in Ireland’s Naval Service.

“It's despicable. Their morale is at rock bottom. Everybody knows somebody in the Defence Forces. They are proud and they love their job, but they're leaving in droves because they truly don't believe it's going to change,” Ms Cotter told the Cork Independent.

Ireland’s Defence Forces are the lowest paid in the public sector and active members are contractually forbidden to speak in public or to assemble for protest.

Ms Cotter continued: “Changing the mindset is something we really have to do. Just because our men and women are tied to a contract, doesn't mean they should be abused.”

The WPDF is appealing to the Government to drastically improve pay and conditions for the men and women who protect the country, some of whom she says work 24 hour shifts for €20.

Ms Cotter said: “A serving member has massive respect and loyalty for their country. So their Government and their country should have the same for them.” Ms Cotter’s comments come following a parade which took place last Saturday in Cork city with the aim to highlight the struggles faced by active members of Ireland’s Defence Forces.

“The Defence Forces are kind of like an airbag, you never see them, but you know they are there. You don't know what it does or how it works, but it's grand because you know it's there. It is soul destroying.”

Also voicing her concerns on the issue was Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada who said that members of the Defence Forces deserve far more respect and better treatment from the Government. She said: “It is scandalous that members of the Defence Forces have been consistently side lined in public service pay negotiations and are being excluded from trade union membership or affiliation with ICTU. They are also legally prevented from public demonstration or protest over terms and conditions. The fact that members of the Defence Forces have had to fight this Government tooth and nail here at home and in Europe in order to have their basic working rights recognised is an absolute disgrace.”

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