Paying the Defence Forces a “decent wage” would help tackle a recruitment crisis, Senator Tom Clonan has said.
Last year, the number of enlisted personnel in the Defence Forces shrank; provisional figures show that while 300 were recruited, just under 600 handed in their notice.
Senator Clonan, a former Army Captain, said that the simplest way to boost recruitment would be to pay military personnel a higher wage.
“A quick fix on this would be to look at the pay scales and pension arrangements for Defence Forces personnel and bring them in line with the rest of the public service,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“Give them a living wage, a decent wage and it puzzles me because, now that I’m in Leinster House, I see people like Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar and every day they interact with members of the Defence Forces.
“They fly them from A to B on the Government jet, they look after them in Áras an Uachtárain, they provide security.
“I don’t understand how they can look them in the eye and not pay them a decent living wage.”
Senator Clonan did not have a figure to hand but said it would be unlikely to cost the State too much considering the small number of people in question.
“You’re talking about 9,000 personnel across all three services - give or take; it’s not going to break the bank,” he said.
“People don’t join the Defence Forces to become wealthy; there’s a cohort in Irish society who want to serve their country… They shouldn’t be exploited… and they should be rewarded - they just don’t want to be the lowest paid public servants.
“As we saw with the tragic events in Lebanon before Christmas, young people are prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice for the Republic and they should be recognised.”
Last year, the Government announced that the Defence budget would be increased from €1bn to €1.5bn annually - the increase increase in decades.
Main image: Soldiers of the Irish Army section of the Defence Forces on a Sunday training excerise on the Curragh Plains in County Kildare . Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie