Citizens in uniform: an examination of the Irish military representation in comparison with European military trade unionism and the ideals of the European social charter

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de Barra, Ruairí
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University College Cork
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Óglaigh na hÉireann is experiencing a crisis in the recruitment and retention of personnel, with the crisis having greater effect on the enlisted personnel. There has been a deluge of claims and counterclaims of failures by the state to provide suitable levels of remuneration and conditions of service in order to ensure the Irish Defence Forces can meet all the tasks assigned to them by Government. These claims have played out across the national media over the past number of years. With these claims growing ever more serious, to a point where there are now claims that the national security of the Irish state could be compromised if solutions are not swiftly found to the current crisis. This thesis seeks to examine these claims by primarily looking at the industrial relations mechanisms and arrangement available to the Irish Defence Forces, through their representative bodies, and to explore if these arrangements are adequate to provide the means through which appropriate levels of remuneration and conditions of service can be achieved. Are these structures adequate in the context of recent case law, and the recent Defence Forces Conciliation and Arbitration scheme review? Can they function correctly while the representative bodies remain within the bounds of current Defence Forces Regulation and Government policy on military representation and military trade unionism? By examining key concepts of the relationships between governments, their armed forces, and the state they serve, the human rights of the European citizen and those of the armed forces member, a view of the importance of the relationship of trust between a state and its armed service personnel is presented here. Then the Irish military representative bodies and arrangement will be compared with the systems in place and afforded to their European counterparts, and some International counterparts, and the ideals and aspirations of the European Social Charter are used to measure the current situation, and what the future vision may hold. There is no easy answer or single solution to this complex crisis. Indeed, the current DF crisis is not unique to the just to the DF in Ireland, many other public sector workers face many similar issues. Across Europe, many militaries are suffering from the struggle to recruit enough personnel for their armed forces, as under-funding of militaries in general and the ever-increasing cost of military personnel (as a percentile of overall armed forces funding) place huge pressure on strained resources. The current symptoms of dysfunctionality within the DF representative system, may be more reflective of the larger economic challenges within in Ireland and across the EU, than a true reflection of a systemic failure. It will take great effort, determination, and co-operation to navigate the DF through the current crisis. It can and it must be done, and strong effective DF representation associations are a core part of those solutions. The representative bodies are on a par with any in the EU, with due regards to certain limitations and restrictions, and they will grow stronger and more effective as the reforms proposed are being implemented over the coming months and years. The relationships with the official side must be reset and rejuvenated, it is of vital importance to all sides that the members of the DF have confidence in the system which is meant to provide for their welfare and rights. The storm clouds of BREXIT and a possible global recession are gathering, and the DF must consolidate and be ready for whatever comes. The security of the state requires a full functioning, appropriately staffed, highly skilled, highly trained, and highly motivated DF to continue to serve the nation, as they have for decades. In order for the DF be as best prepared for any eventuality, this current crisis must be halted and brought to a swift a conclusion as possible. The volunteers of Óglaigh na hÉireann are citizens in uniform and they are proud to be the first to serve.
Military , PDFORRA , Óglaigh na hÉireann , Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association , EUROMIL , European Organisation of Military Associations and Trade Unions , Ireland , Europe , European Social Charter , Irish defence forces , Citizens in uniform , Military trade unionism , Military representation , Trade union
de Barra, R. 2019. Citizens in uniform: an examination of the Irish military representation in comparison with European military trade unionism and the ideals of the European social charter. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.
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