Troops from the 28th Infantry Regiment who were deployed throughout Inishowen before Christmas to clear the footpaths and streets are now looking for payment for .
The Soldiers from Finner Camp were on the streets in Moville, Carndonagh and Buncrana to help residents get around during the “Big Chill”.
Buncrana Mayor Padraig MacLochlainn said he would be very disappointed in the government if they refused to give the soldiers extra money for work carried out in the snow:
“Everyone in Inishowen was very grateful for the work the soldiers did in the run up to Christmas. They ensured people were safe and able to get around the town and helped on all sorts of levels. Businesses were really grateful as their efforts kept vital money in towns throughout the county.
“They were up for it big time and they carried out their work beyond the call of duty. We are all very grateful for their efforts.”
The Sein Fein councillor believes the government would be wrong not to reward hard working members of the defence forces:
“Due to government cutbacks, soldiers are not allowed to receive any overtime, and it was these same cutbacks the meant we lost a lot of our front line roads staff in the council in the past couple of years meaning we had no choice but to call in the armed forces to help out.
“It is the front line staff who suffer all because of the government decided to bailout European banks and punish the local workers.”
The request for an extra payment is being made on behalf of soldiers by their representative body Pdforra which is seeking a ‘decency payment’ for soldiers called out to help during the crisis. The claim is being made for time that troops spent away from their families.
General Secretary of Pdforra, Gerry Rooney, said soldiers are entitled to on-call payments. “They are spending long and antisocial hours away from their homes. There is anger about it, people have an expectation to spend some time with their families. They are on duty. Even if they are not deployed, they are spending long and antisocial hours away from their homes.”
The claim is expected to come before a hearing of the Defence Forces conciliation and arbitration scheme in the coming weeks.
But the claim will is thought to be opposed by the Department of Finance due to the economic climate.