Members of the Defence Forces are still waiting for the €1,000 Covid bonus promised to them back in January.
The Government announced in January that frontline public sector healthcare workers would receive a tax-free bonus to reward their work during the pandemic.
Some of those to receive the payment included hospital staff, porters and cleaners, maintenance and catering staff, Covid-19 swabbers and vaccinators, and defence forces personnel, among others.
The bonus scheme was set to cost around €100 million, and the Government planned to make the payment before the end of March of this year. But members of the Defence Forces are still waiting for their payment.
A member of the Defence Forces told the Irish Independent: “No, we didn’t get paid. We were doing all the swabbing; we were running the test centres and the hotels too.
“It’s crazy, we were on the frontline when Covid was rampant, nobody else was working at that time apart from the essential people. When the announcement came about the Covid bonus, everyone was delighted. But now they’re not following through.
“It is more than a week’s wages. It would help massively. It would be an enormous difference to everyone, especially coming up to Christmas.”
The member of the Defence Forces, who did not wish to be named, said that it’s a huge disappointment that the promised bonus has not appeared in their bank account yet.
They added: “It was meant to be paid in March or April and nothing is being said. The Government said they would give it to us and now they’re not, it’s terrible.”
People Before Profit TD, Paul Murphy said: "It's scandalous that Defences Forces staff are still waiting almost a year since the Covid bonus was announced. It is another reminder of how poorly paid and treated they are. The Government needs to get to the bottom of the delay and fix it, instead of excusing it."
A spokesperson from the Defence Forces explained that the Pandemic Recognition Payment announced by the Government at the beginning of 2022 will be paid to Defence Forces members who qualify for it “as soon as possible” – but no date has been confirmed.
“The Defence Forces and Department of Defence conciliation and arbitration branches (C & A) are liaising with the Department of Health to ensure that all Defence Forces personnel, who performed Covid-19 related duties and who meet the criteria, receive this payment.
“There is no predicted date for payment as of yet, but it is hoped that this will be paid accordingly in the coming weeks.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Health he Department and HSE are eager for efficient rollout processes to begin.
“The HSE has recently tendered for an external provider to assist in setting up and implementing the process of gathering required information from the relevant employers, to facilitate payment of the Pandemic Recognition Payment to their eligible staff.
“The Department and HSE are eager for efficient rollout processes to begin shortly as this contract comes into force.”