Government must recognise the need to strengthen Defence Forces

Dáil supports Fianna Fáil motion to beef up personnel numbers

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Defence Lisa Chambers says the Government must recognise the need to strengthen our Defence Forces personnel and is calling on the Taoiseach to ensure that numbers are increased as a matter of urgency.

The Mayo TD says we must also move towards the restoration of a three brigade structure with re-establishment of the 4th Western Brigade in Athlone.

A Fianna Fáil motion on these issues was passed in the Dáil last week.

Deputy Chambers explained, “The time has come to address the serious personnel shortages in our Defence Forces. Rather than token gestures, we need a concerted effort on the part of Government to restore these services and ensure that 10,500 personnel target is met. Over the past number of years we have seen a huge decline in numbers leaving the force at just 9,070 – well below the current agreed strength.

“We need to recommit to our Defence Forces to ensure they has the personnel strength to fulfil its national and international assigned roles and required overseas rotations. Successive Fine Gael-led Governments have targeted the Defence Forces, starving them of resources and investment. This has resulted in a seriously depleted force, where morale is low and retention levels are falling.

“The 2012 restructuring of the Defence Forces continues to generate controversy to say the least. The move to a two brigade structure was ill advised and ignored long standing organisational links and history. Rather than improving effective and efficient Command and Control for these three garrisons, it has done the exact opposite, and in so doing has reversed a core element of the long established military command principles.

“I am therefore calling for the restoration of the three brigade structure with the re-establishment of the 4th Western Brigade in Custume Barracks in Athlone.

“Fianna Fáil’s motion recognising the importance of a strengthened and well organised Defence Force was passed in the Dáil last week. The Government cannot ignore the support that this motion received and must act on its recommendations. I am calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to move on these issues as a matter of urgency to ensure that a force, which acts as a guarantor of State sovereignty and provides an essential role in national and international affairs, is supported and strengthened”.