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05 Dec 2021

Kildare Senator asks Taoiseach if the government is committed to the Permanent Defence Forces

Kildare Senator asks Taoiseach if the government is committed to the Permanent Defence Forces

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A Senator from Kildare has asked An Taoiseach Michéal Martin if the Irish Government is committed to the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF).

Labour Senator Mark Wall made the comments while speaking to the Fianna Fáil leader in the Seanad recently.

Senator Wall said: "I join the Taoiseach in thanking all our front-line workers but there is one cohort of front-line workers on whom I want to concentrate."

"Since I come from the great county of Kildare, it may come as no surprise that I am referring to our PDF."

He explained: "I would appreciate it if the Taoiseach, as Head of the Government, clarified for those serving in our PDF that the Government is committed to the future of the force, to rebuilding the force of 9,500 serving personnel and to addressing the pay-and-conditions problems that dominate the issues encountered daily by the Defence Forces' representative bodies, namely RACO, and PDFORRA.

"This would certainly be welcomed by all those who represent our country with pride and loyalty... it would be most welcome among their families."

In response to Senator Wall's request, Mr Martin said: "The Commission on the PDF and their future is an important piece of work."

"I am concerned about it: the backbone of any country is its defence forces, (and) I mean this in the widest possible way."

He elaborated: "The PDF came out at the very beginning of Covid-19.

"Their logistical know-how and above all their peacekeeping credentials have brought great honour to the country.

"They have enabled to Ireland to have its own distinct role in international affairs around conflict prevention and peacekeeping itself."

The Taoiseach concluded: "We have taken a leadership role in that respect, particularly in gender-based conflict, (and) we take a human rights-based approach to complex situations and humanitarian corridors."

Commenting after the debate, Senator Wall said: "Once again the govt's reference Commission on the PDF is a question on the future of the force."

"At a time when the force has fallen below 8,500 serving personnel and we see the ongoing problems with recruitment and retention, everything must be done to assist those that are serving and their families."

The Athy politician concluded: "We are all looking to the outcome of this commission, but the govt must be ready to support our PDF whatever the outcome and that support must include the proper infrastructure, pay and conditions for all those who are so proud to serve their country."

Earlier in the month, Senator Mark Wall urged the govt to cut VAT on energy bills and fuel cut for winter.

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