Defence Forces migrant rescues: deal agreed on extra pay

Naval Service personnel on Mediterranean missions to receive additional €15 a day

LÉ Róisín crew members assist in rescuing people from a vessel located about 39 nautical miles northwest of Tripoli, Libya in May 2016. Photograph: Irish Defence Forces

LÉ Róisín crew members assist in rescuing people from a vessel located about 39 nautical miles northwest of Tripoli, Libya in May 2016. Photograph: Irish Defence Forces

 

Defence Forces personnel who joined the migrant rescue mission in the Mediterranean will receive an additional payment of €15 a day following an agreement with the Government.

The Government had been in a dispute with PDforra, the representative organisation for the Defence Forces, over the money, but a deal was struck following arbitration between the two sides.

Personnel who served on Operation Pontus, which saw more than 15,000 migrants rescued, will receive a tax-free payment of €15 per day in addition to the standard daily allowance of €55.

The €15 payment is similar but of a lower value to an allowance that is usually given to Defence Forces personnel on peacekeeping missions because they operate in an armed, hostile environment.

Dangerous Libyan coastline

The Mediterranean operation was technically seen as a humanitarian mission, but PDforra argued that Naval Service members who took part were in close proximity to the dangerous Libyan coastline and often had to prepare weapons on board their ships.

“It has been a long struggle to come to the point where an acceptable level of payment for this demanding mission has been agreed,” said PDforra general secretary Gerry Rooney.

He said the deal was specific to Operation Pontus but committed PDforra and the Government to a further round of talks to agree the appropriate payment rate for future humanitarian-type missions.

Operation Pontus was approved by Government in May 2015 and has involved six separate three-month rotations to the Mediterranean by the LÉ Eithne, LÉ Niamh, LÉ Samuel Beckett, LÉ Róisín and the LÉ James Joyce. At its conclusion the mission rescued more than 15,000 migrants.

Confirming the deal, Minister with Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe said he was pleased the matter had been resolved to the benefit of Defence Forces personnel. He said the payments would be made in the coming weeks.