Sinn Féin Junior spokesperson on Defence, Sorca Clarke TD, has welcomed the upcoming engagement with the Chair of the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces in the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.
Teachta Clarke said:
“I welcome the opportunity to put questions to the Chair of the Commission, Aidan O’Driscoll, when he stands before the Committee in April. This Commission is a one-time opportunity to right the wrongs in the Defence Forces and develop a new course for our armed services.
“The Irish Defence Forces have a long track record of serving in UN missions overseas and are often highly praised for their professionalism and discipline in some dangerous conflict zones. It has become clear, however, that there are a number of very serious issues which need to be addressed.
“Reducing troop numbers and closures of barracks have had a devastating effect on soldiers who have become unemployed, as well as on local communities in the area. Recent reports of Naval Service ships being anchored or running on skeleton crews due to severe understaffing are hugely worrying.
“Working conditions, long hours and poor pay and compensation have caused many highly trained personnel, both military and civilian, to end their employment with the Defence Forces. This highlights the need for the legalisation of trade union representation for employees of the Defence Forces. The Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces offers and opportunity to address al of these issues.
“There is a duty of care to all of the women and men in the military or otherwise employed in our Defence Forces. We need to ensure that this duty of care is honoured. The recent allegations of sexual abuse and inadequate responses to such abuse need to be addressed head on.
“Engaging with the Chair will give TDs the opportunity to raise all of these issues and scrutinise the report.”