Irish soldiers on foreign tours of duty are forced to splash out up to €800 to return home on leave, according to a new report.
Troops serving in places such as Lebanon and the Golan Heights in Syria are given three weeks of leave during their six months deployment.
But they’re not allowed stay in the mission area and must fund their own travel back to Ireland to see loved ones.
Ireland currently has 655 soldiers serving overseas, with 460 of these forming part of the United Nations Interim Force in the Lebanon.
The 114th infantry battalion flew out to the Middle East state last month to begin their six month tour of duty in the region.
It’s estimated that the cost of a return flight from the Lebanon to Ireland costs €800, which must be paid for by each member.
Labour’s defence spokesman Brendan Ryan described the practice as “disgraceful”.
He told the Irish Sun: “I’ve raised the mistreatment of members of the Defence Forces a number of times in the Dail and this is just another example of this.
“The Minister continuously says that they are valued but it’s clear they’re not.
“We keep hearing about the low pay many are made to scrape by on and then something like this just adds to their hardship, just so they can see their families.
“If they have three weeks leave from any tour of duty then they are going to go home to see their families.
“They, along with their loved ones, make great sacrifices when they travel abroad on missions and if they’re flying home during their tours on leave then the Defence Forces should be paying for it.”
Four hundred and fifty troops rotated to South Lebanon in what is Ireland’s largest overseas deployment to a single mission area.