Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has said that the critically low numbers within the Defence Forces are getting worse under the current government.
He said that while Ministers are undermining Ireland’s neutrality and independent foreign policy, they have failed to address the systemic retention and recruitment crisis within the Defence Forces.
The answer, Deputy Carthy said, is for government to heed and address the concerns that have been outlined by the Defence Forces representative organisations.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The report in the Irish Examiner that one-tenth of frontline Army personnel left the organisation in the twelve months to July crystalise that the crisis within the Defence Forces is getting worse under the current government.
“This is but the latest evidence that our Defence Forces are at critically low levels. In 2019 the number of Defence Force personnel stood at 8,828. In May this year the number was down to a pitiful 7,764. This is critically low and is an indictment on successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments who have run the Defence Forces into the ground.
“While Ministers have been undermining Ireland’s neutrality and independent Foreign policy they have been also overseeing the decimation of our ability to defend ourselves. This is unfair on the hard-working men and women of the Defence Forces who simply want to serve their country with decent working conditions and with the resources necessary to do their job.
“Sinn Féin welcomed the Report of the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces. However, progress on its implementation has been too slow and limited. Crucially, government are failing to address the retention and recruitment crisis. In particular, the delay in implementing the Working Time Directive is a glaring factor in encouraging new recruits and convincing existing personnel that government are serious about addressing their concerns.
“Representative Organisations of Defence Forces members have clearly outlined their concerns and proposals to resolvethem. It is now time for government to heed and address those concerns as a matter of urgency.
“Sinn Féin are committed to doing so. We want to rebuild our Defence Forces so that we can protect our neutrality, defend and monitor our skies and seas, and protect ourselves from modern threats; including cyber-attacks. I have written to the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee to request that we schedule a series of hearings on these matters over the coming weeks.”