Fianna Fáil Defence Spokesperson Lisa Chambers says the Taoiseach’s failure to re-instate Defence with a full Cabinet Minister is disappointing and frustrating
Deputy Chambers commented, “Despite the huge challenges facing our Defence Forces, and the acknowledgement at Government level that issues such as retention and recruitment as well as staff pay levels need to be addressed, it is extremely disappointing that once again the Defence portfolio has been overlooked for full Cabinet representation.
“Our Defence Forces are of fundamental importance to both state and society and it is critical that that be reflected at a political level.
“Since 2011, successive Fine Gael governments have failed to value our Defence Forces. The decision in March 2011 to assign the Defence portfolio as a subsidiary role to the Minister for Justice indicated an essential lack of respect for the position and indeed for members of the Defence Forces. This mistake was compounded in May 2016 by the assignment of the department to a Minister of State. No other government department is run by a Minister of State.
“Fianna Fáil has long called for Defence to be restored as a lead cabinet portfolio and that stance was endorsed by the Dáil earlier this year. Sadly this was not acted on today but for our part we renew our commitment to the restoration of Defence as a lead portfolio in Cabinet when the opportunity presents itself.
“This would be a very clear affirmation of the value we as a State must place on our Defence Forces and it would be warmly welcomed by all those who serve in Oglaigh na hÉireann.”