20% of Defence Force need benefits
on 03/10/2013 00:00:00
Speaking at the group's annual conference in Wexford, PDforra president Mark Scally said the number of Defence Force members in need of state handouts was "clear evidence" that pay cuts had gone too far and said similar cuts in the late 1980s led to the establishment of PDforra.
"We estimate that around 20% of our members now qualify for FIS payments at some level," said Mr Scally.
"This indicates that they are not receiving adequate pay levels to provide their families with a decent standard of living, but also that the on-going programme of cuts in the pay of ordinary members of the Defence has gone too far and has resulted in unnecessary stress."
To qualify for FIS, it is necessary to have one child and have a weekly average family income of less than a series of limits dependent on the number of children. Assessable earnings are gross pay minus tax, employee PRSI, universal social charge, public service pension levy, and superannuation.
Mr Scally said the policy of cutting the pay of the Defence Forces who were then seeking money in benefits was "nonsensical".
"It is nonsensical to cut the pay levels of members of the Defence Forces with one hand and then hand it back to them under a different title on the other hand," said Mr Scally.
"Government policy should be directed at protecting the existing pay levels of those who may be reliant on family income supplement payments."
Earlier in the conference, PDforra general secretary Gerry Rooney called for increased funding for the Defence Forces and said Ireland had one of the lowest spends in the EU.
"Adequate funding for the Defence Forces must be a priority for the current white paper process," said Mr Rooney.
"The evidence of underfunding is clear from the statistics on EU countries' defence spending, where Ireland is one of the lowest at 0.6% of GDP, while the average spend is 1.6%."