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Kilkenny councillor calls for all defence force members to get tax-free pandemic bonus

There are other sectors where personnel believe they should also get the payment

A call has been made for all members of the defence forces to be given the tax-free pandemic bonus.

The €1,000 lump sum was announced yesterday for healthcare staff who worked in situations where they were exposed to Covid-19.

Army staff who were seconded to test centres are to be included but Kilkenny Councillor Joe Malone says all soldiers should get it; “The defence forces, the army, the navy and the air corp, should be included in this, not just the army personnel that were seconded to the HSE but everybody because at the very start we had the contact tracers and they were from the army and the army are still doing that, I believe there’s a base over in James Stephens’ Barracks in Kilkenny and they’re still doing the contact tracing and I think they have to include everybody in this”.

Cllr Malone has this plea for the decision-makers; “Please do not leave the army and the soldiers behind on this one, they’re entitled to it and I hope they do get it for their families sake as well because they put in the hours and continue to do that as well”.

There have been calls too for the payment to be made to GPs, pharmacists and retail workers.

But Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath says it would be “incredibly difficult where to draw the line” if the scheme’s extended and he defended the decision to single out healthcare workers for it.