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An Irish soldier on peacekeeping duty at UN outpost 6-52 on the Lebanese/Israeli border.
European Mission

'Reluctance' by Irish soldiers to serve in EU Battlegroup mission due to low pay

Speaking at the PDFORRA conference in Cavan, President of PDFORRA Mark Keane said it will cause serious issues for the Defence Forces to fill the positions.

IRISH SOLDIERS ARE reluctant to sign up for the new EU Battlegroup mission because their pay will be €100 less per day than if they sign up for UN Peacekeeping missions, the President of PDFORRA has said.

Speaking at the PDFORRA conference in Cavan, President of PDFORRA Mark Keane said it will cause serious issues for the Defence Forces to fill the positions. 

Keane said Irish Peacekeepers on the UN mission in South Lebanon receive upwards of €116 per day but deployments on the European Union Battlegroup in 2025 will be just €15 per day. That allowance is added to the soldier’s wages to compensate them for being away from home. 

“In all honesty it will be difficult to attract people to making that sacrifice,” Keane explained. 

“There is a reluctance because you’re asking people to place themselves on standby for long periods of time, to partake in operations and training overseas and still there’s no real compensation.

“More importantly, and talking to delegates here, you have to strike a work life balance.

“The families have to buy into this as well, whether it’s the wives, the husbands or boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever, the kids. So going home and saying well I deploying for X amount of time, you’re putting a greater financial strain on the family at home, if you’re going abroad, you know yourself that it will be difficult to live on €15 a day,” he said. 

Keane explained that the members he speaks on behalf of understand their role and the nature of soldiering and that it involves foreign deployments. 

However he said that when the soldiers sign up for the EU Battlegroup they will not be permitted to serve in Lebanon. 

He also said that while Lebanon is a difficult peacekeeping mission the European Union missions may be even more dynamic missions.

The Government approved the participation of the Irish Defence Forces in the German-led EU Battlegroup in January 2023.

It will see Irish troops, understood to be a mechanised infantry unit, joining the Battlegroup in 2024 and 2025. 

This will be the eighth occasion on which the Defence Forces have been part of the initiative and the first since 2020.

The military concept has a total strength of 2,000 personnel and is a two-year commitment. The military initiative will be on standby for the entirety of 2025 and respond on a European basis to UN mandated interventions.

The EU said they can also respond to humanitarian crises and act as a Quick Reaction Force to deploy to a hotspot before the arrival of a permanently positioned military unit. 

It is anticipated that the total number of the proposed Defence Forces contribution to the Battlegroup will be 174 personnel, largely comprised of a Mechanised Infantry Company together with a National Support Element.

Germany will lead the group while other participating members will include Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Ireland has previously participated in the Nordic Battlegroups in 2008, 2011 and 2015, the UK-led EU Battlegroup in 2016 and the German-led Battlegroups in 2012, 2016 and in 2020.

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