Coveney announces a bonus of €1,000 to members of the Defense Forces, to be paid out by Christmas

MEMBERS OF THE DEFENSE FORCES to receive the €1,000 special bonus for the Covid pandemic before Christmas.

Defense Secretary Simon Coveney told the annual Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (Raco) delegates conference in Naas, Co. Kildare that he was “personally frustrated” that this has not yet happened.

He said his department is working with management to ensure the first payments would be made on December 14.

HSE workers and workers in government-funded facilities have received the payment, but non-HSE public officials and private sector workers who have worked on the front lines are still awaiting.

Mr Coveney said identification of members’ duties carried out during the pandemic was complete.

“Delegates, as you will know, earlier this year the government announced a Covid-19 recognition payment for frontline public sector workers to recognize their unique role during the pandemic,” he said.

“I can assure you that every effort is being made to ensure pandemic recognition payments to eligible military personnel are made as quickly as possible.”

Mr Coveney also announced that the reintroduction of a €5,455 Specialist Trainer Allowance would be considered given the challenges in recruitment. He said he saw value in this Raco demand due to an expected surge in hiring, although that would bring challenges as they had been “bought out”.

He said he had received guidance from the Ministry of Public Expenditure and Reform that the allowance would be one of the first matters under scrutiny by a new “allowance mechanism”.

Lt. Col. Conor King, Raco’s secretary-general, warned the minister that the Defense Forces organization had become a “leaky bucket” that “no amount of water could fill.”

He said this is because it is going through a major crisis when it comes to retaining staff.

Mr King said officials could only come to the sad conclusion that the issue was “not included on the list of priorities at the Cabinet table”.

He warned that the government’s target of reaching a minimum strength of 11,500 is not “realistic or achievable” due to current policies. He said the “honest” number for the size of the Defense Forces was 7,752.

The minister acknowledged that recruitment and retention was a key challenge but denied there had been an “exodus” of doctors from the defense forces.

He said the government has committed to the largest increase in defense funding ever, increasing the defense budget to €1.5 billion by 2028.

Mr Coveney also said a judge-led independent review panel was seen as a “vital” first step to ensure there was “zero tolerance” for unacceptable behaviour.

Defense Forces chief of staff Seán Clancy, after pointing to the “harrowing claims” made by the Women of Honor group, told delegates that he is “now more convinced than ever that many of the distressing and unacceptable experiences that… Their members have experienced, not merely are limited to history”.

He said this was confirmed by a recent survey, which pointed to “clear and current issues regarding unacceptable and unethical behavior in the organization.” Coveney announces a bonus of €1,000 to members of the Defense Forces, to be paid out by Christmas

Fry Electronics Team

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