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NO DEFENCE FOR PATHETIC WAGES; Forces wives lead 24-hour protest at Dail.

Byline: HELEN WHITEHOUSE

CUTS and low pay have left wives of men in the Irish Defence Forces "scraping for pennies" to provide Christmas for their kids.

The women say they are struggling to run households, afford school uniforms and gather enough funds for gifts.

Yesterday the Wives and Partners of Defence Forces (WPDF) organised a peaceful protest outside the Dail yesterday to raise awareness.

They gathered for the 24-hour vigil, which started at 8am, and represents the fact their partners receive [euro]20 for the equivalent amount of time on duty. Emma Magee, 34, is married to a corporal in the Defence Forces and they have three children - 12-year-old twin girls and a little boy aged six.

She said: "They are silenced basically, but the wives aren't silenced.

"We've come out here to support them because the conditions and the pay are atrocious. When the recession hit the public sector workers took slash after slash after slash.

"I've noticed personally there's a [euro]40 difference in my grocery bill from price rises, but the wage hasn't risen.

"We don't have our own home, I live with my parents.

When we married the recession hit and we couldn't secure a mortgage - the wages are so low the banks won't touch us.

"My family help us very much but they shouldn't have to, my husband goes to work every day.

How much partners get for 24-hour "When it comes to things like Christmas, going back to school, family occasions, that's where it really hits.

"There's no such thing as a night out. I put food on the table, there's light in the ceiling and there's heat in the house. That's all I can do.

"We are scraping by, sometimes we have to borrow and ask for help - you have to do it your kids, you can't say, 'Santa won't come this year'."

Shelley Cotter, 45, from Cork, was one of the firsafter tax security duty d members of the WPDF and decided to take action for her partner and son who are in the forces.

She said: "I started in 2015, campaigning on my own, I wasn't letting this issue go. At the start, it was desperation - that's why I started.

"You cut your belt until you can't cut it any more, you tighten, you learn to say no to your children - not a nice thing to do."

A statement from WPDF said their three main aims include access to labour courts for all members of the Defence Forces, full pay restoration and pay increases and duty pay restored and the post-1994 contracts reviewed. This would enable healthy, fit and experienced personnel to stay in the Defence Forces if they so wish.

news@irishmirror.ie

IRISH MIRROR COMMENT: P10

[euro]20 How much WPDF says partners get after tax for 24-hour security duty We are scraping by ..my family help us but shouldn't have to EMMA MAGEE mum of 3 and wife of corporal

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 1, 2017
Words:520
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