Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has commended the multi-agency operation that led to the detention of the MV Matthew ship off the Irish coast on Tuesday.
But he added that the operation demonstrates the need to deliver a plan to address years of government neglect of the Defence Forces and the Naval Service.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The Defence Forces; the Naval services and the Army Ranger Wing; and all agencies involved in the operation to detain the MV Matthew, deserve every bit of praise they have received since the operation off our coast on Tuesday.
“The successful operation again demonstrates the need to invest in naval capacity and the wider Defence Force.
“It also serves to remind us of the dangerous consequences of the undermining of our Defence Forces by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments.
“Due to government failures, a maximum of two naval vessels can presently be put to sea at any time because of staffing shortages.
“There are fewer Defence Forces personnel today than at any time in the history of the state, and the situation has worsened under the current government. More members will leave the Defence Forces this year than will be recruited.
“So, while it is absolutely correct that we commend the Defence Forces when they successfully complete a dangerous operation such as this, we must also note that their ability to do so has been made more difficult because of government failures.
“Too much time has passed since the publication of the Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces without a full implementation plan – that must be completed without delay.
“We must ensure that the men and women of the Defence Forces receive the pay, conditions and equipment required to do the job we depend on them for. We must also see the plan that will adequately address the retention and recruitment crisis within the Defence Forces, including the naval services.”