The report has highlighted the extent of the crisis within our Defence Forces
Improved pay and conditions for members of the Defence Forces are a critical component in bolstering our defence capabilities, according to Social Democrats Defence Spokesperson Gary Gannon.
“I welcome the release of the report of the Commission of the Defence Forces, which has highlighted the extent of the crisis within our Defence Forces. It is clear from the report that a long history of failure to provide appropriate resources has reduced the capability of the Defence Forces to do its core work – and adequately protect the country.
“Last year the naval service marked its 75th anniversary – but it did so with only five of its nine naval vessels operational, primarily due to a lack of personnel. This crisis in recruitment must be addressed, as a matter of urgency, and better pay and conditions are a key component of this. This was a subject that was outside the remit of the Commission, but it must now become a central focus of government. Deeply embedded cultural issues within the Defence Forces – particularly in relation to sexual harassment and abuse – and the lack of diversity among personnel must be acted on also.
“The Commission poses some challenging questions about the kind of Defence Forces we want to see beyond 2030. Its proposal will form the basis of a national debate in the coming weeks and months about what is desirable, credible and achievable. Given the demonstrable inability of our Defence Forces to currently perform its critical functions, it is clear an increase in funding will be necessary. At a minimum, the Defence Forces will need enhanced radar and cyber capabilities, which are vital for our national security.
“While Defence Minister Simon Coveney has welcomed this report, he has also been a member of successive governments since 2011 that have overseen the depletion of personnel within the Defence Forces and a reduction in its capacity to serve. The report must serve as a wake-up call for the Minister, and the government, to finally act to support existing personnel, attract new and diverse members and bolster the capacity of the Defence Forces to do its job to the best of its ability.”
Welcoming the report, Cllr Chris Pender, Chair of the Social Democrats Defence and Security Policy committee said:
“I am particularly pleased to see the recommendation for the formation of an Office of Veterans Affairs to coordinate veteran services and provide advice and assistance to veterans and their families. This was one of a number of recommendations, in our 22-page submission to the Commission, and should be implemented right away.
“Members of the Defence Forces have and will leave with life-altering or long-term injuries, illnesses, mental health issues including PTSD as a result of their service. Others simply run into financial difficulties. We believe the State owes these veterans a continuing duty of care.”
9 February, 2022