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Higgins has said that Defence Forces members need to get properly paid. Leah Farrell/

President Michael D Higgins offers support to Defence Force staff over pay

Higgins was speaking at an event celebrating members of the Defence Forces.

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has rowed into the ongoing issue of Defence Forces pay, arguing that members should have “sufficient” income. 

In a speech today at the annual Defence Force Values Awards, held at Áras an Uachtaráin, Higgins said that “serving men and women should have conditions including an income and prospects that are sufficient to provide for themselves and their families”.

“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,” he said in the speech. 

The level of pay for members of the Defence Forces has been a recurring issue in recent months. 

As president, Higgins is the supreme commander of the Defence Forces. 

“It is no secret that changes in conditions for serving men and women has brought its own challenges. These are challenges that should be addressed with sensitivity,” Higgins told the audience. 

“Those providing such a vital service as those in our Defence Forces must be real partners in interpreting and responding to such changes. Should this not happen, there is a real danger of a gap opening-up between our expressed appreciation of their work and the circumstances we deliver for its practice,” he said. 

In June, Senior members of PDFORRA, which represents rank-and-file members of the Irish military, told an Oireachtas committee that morale in the Irish Defence Forces was “on the floor” due to a lack of investment. 

While changes introduced in July following the publication of the report of the Public Services Pay Commission promised a boost in the pay for the vast majority of personnel of between €602 and €675 per year, concerns have remained that not enough is being done to support staff. 

During the event, Higgins also paid tribute to the work of Defence Forces staff and their families. 

“I express my deepest gratitude for your support and for your willingness to allow your loved ones to face such tangible dangers and to endure lengthy separation understanding, as you do, the importance of their work and the positive impact which they have in this country and beyond our shores,” he said. 

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