Michael Staines
Michael Staines

14.02 12 Sep 2019


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The Tánaiste has said he has no “huge concerns” over President Michael D Higgins comments on pay and conditions in the Defence Forces.

Simon Coveney was speaking after President Higgins said serving men and women had a right to expect an income that can provide for themselves and their families.

President Higgins also serves as Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces; however, it is unusual for a sitting president to intervene in political matters.

Speaking at the Fine Gael think-in in Cork this afternoon, Minister Coveney said the Government shared President Higgins' "concern and frustration” over the recruitment and retention issues facing the military.

Defence Forces

President Higgins made the comments during the Defence Force Values Awards ceremony recognising the “outstanding service” of seven members of the Defence Forces.

He said it is “no secret” that changes in working conditions have brought challenges for defence forces members.

“Many are understandably concerned about the ability to attract and retain people of the highest calibre in the Defence Forces,” he said.

“It is not too much, I would suggest, to expect that serving men and women should have conditions including an income and prospects that are sufficient to provide for themselves and their families.

“Indeed, as they are the employees of the State, such conditions should be exemplary for other parts of the society and economy.

“I have heard and read with anxiety of the distress that is being experienced by some of those who are giving their all to serve the State.”

"Highest values"

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe gave this response when asked in the president spoke out of turn.

“President Higgins has done a fantastic job representing our country here at home and abroad,” he said.

“I believe he has conducted himself [well] here and reflected the highest values of the institution of the presidency.”

Earlier in the summer, the Government approved a €10m annual package aimed at improving take home pay for Ireland’s soldiers, sailors and aircrew.

The package included a range of allowance increases but no rise in core pay.


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