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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Feb 1937

Vol. 65 No. 1

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Army Reservists.

asked the Minister for Defence if he will state whether he is aware that under the procedure adopted for recruiting men from employment exchanges for employment on relief works it is impossible for a man who is an Army reservist to get employment, no matter how large his family is, and that there is a tendency among a number of them to seek discharge from the Army reserve in order that they may secure employment, and whether he will take immediate steps to secure that their grievances in this matter be redressed and the hardship under which a large number of them are labouring at present removed, and if he will receive a deputation representing Army reservists in the City of Dublin so that he may appreciate the urgency of the matter.

asked the Minister for Defence whether, in view of the fact that Army reservists are suffering deductions from their unemployment assistance allowances because they are receiving bounty for their Army services, he will introduce proposals for legislation to secure that this hardship on men who are prepared to serve their country will be abolished.

I propose replying to Deputy Briscoe's question along with that put down by An Teacta Ua Maolchatha as they both deal with the same subject.

It is not impossible for an Army reservist who is in receipt of unemployment assistance to secure employment on relief works. I am aware, however, that, in relation to this kind of employment, Army reservists are affected in the same way and to the same extent as other persons who have means by the operation of the rule under which preference in such employment is given to persons in receipt of higher rates of assistance over persons in receipt of lower rates. The application of scheduled rates of assistance is affected by the means of applicants, amongst which the grants payable to Army reservists have heretofore been reckoned. I am having the whole question of the relation of these grants to the receipt of unemployment assistance examined with a view to seeing whether relief can be afforded and in what form.

I am not prepared to receive a deputation of Army reservists, but I am willing at all times to give sympathetic consideration to any representations which may be put forward by an individual reservist regarding his conditions of service.

Is the Minister aware that it is impossible for an Army reservist in the City of Dublin and in many parts of the country to get employment on relief works, because no Army reservist can get more than 16/- a week unemployment assistance, and any man who is not getting more than that cannot get employment on relief works, as the regulations are at the moment, if there are people getting 17/-, 18/-, 19/- or £1 by way of unemployment assistance? Do I understand that the Minister is going to have the matter considered so that any Army reservist will not be precluded from getting employment on relief works under that particular type of regulation?

It is not impossible for an Army reservist to secure employment on relief works. No doubt they are affected because of the preference given to persons drawing higher rates of assistance, and there is a difficulty arising from the fact that the Army reservist's bounty is taken into consideration and is calculated as means. In order to get over that difficulty which affects Army reservists, even if there are no relief schemes in operation in a district, I am having the whole matter examined. Our object is to see if we can get over that difficulty.

I asked the Minister a question in relation to the difficulty Army reservists experience in getting work. I say it is not possible for an Army reservist in the City of Dublin to get work so long as there is a person registered in the Dublin Employment Exchange in receipt of 17/- a week unemployment assistance.

The figure is 16/- —all those having 16/- and over, including 16/-.

There is no man in the City of Dublin drawing 16/- a week unemployment assistance who will be allowed to get work.

The Deputy is wrong.

The Minister is evidently unaware of what is happening at the labour exchanges, and for the benefit of the Minister and the Minister for Defence, I desire to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the adjournment so that there may be a fuller understanding of it.

In connection with the last reply I made to Deputy Mulcahy, I was dealing with a point raised by Deputy Briscoe, which goes beyond the narrow question the Deputy asked. It covers the thing comprehensively—that is, the disability under which I believe reservists are really suffering, and the fact that their bounties are calculated as means.

Is the Minister aware that the disability that Army reservists feel is not so much that there is deducted the 4/- a week in the unemployment assistance—although that in itself is a big disability—but because they cannot get work, and is he aware that the difficulty the Defence Forces labour under is that it would pay an Army reservist to leave the Army reserve to-morrow, because if he did so he could then get work and be in a position to give his wife and family the assistance of an income? Again, it shows how completely misinformed the Minister is on the subject.

It shows how completely misinformed the Deputy is.

The air ought to be cleared.