Becky Kealy: Commission Confirms Unsustainable Defence Forces ‘Status Quo’
On foot of the Commission of Defence Force’s Report, Aontú Rep for Cork North West, Becky Kealy, has said the report affirms the unsustainable status quo in the defence forces which induces an annual exodus from the Defence Forces and left without any ability to protect ourselves.
Becky Kealy: “The decline and disgrace of our defence forces has been presided over by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and if it continues, will lead to the complete ruin of our armed forces. When I raised many of these issues with the Minister for Defence, his response was to ignore these issues and chastise me for ‘talking down the Defence Forces.’ Today’s report affirms what the government has long chosen to ignore: continuation of the decline in our defence forces will leave Ireland defenceless. The Defence Forces have arguably been the most mistreated sector of our public service by successive governments. Over 4,000 men and women have left our Defence Forces since 2016. For a military that has less than 11,000 active and reserve personnel, that is the equivalent to losing over a third of our service members every five years. In terms of our capacity, in 2020, we lost over 30 patrol days due to personnel issues. The maintenance of our military capacity has been neglected to the point of destruction, and cannot be allowed continue.”
“I particularly welcome the extensive recognition within the Report of the value of our service members, as evidence in the substantive ‘People as the Defence Forces’ Key Strategic Resource’ section of the report. Sadly, the government has not attached the same value to our Defence Forces as the Commission. Hundreds of brave service members leave our defence forces each and every year in what has become an annual exodus of sorts due to the mistreatment they are subjected to by the government. I have been told of horror stories of soldiers sleeping in cars and working three jobs due to the inequitable pay and working conditions. Furthermore, we do them the greater disservice of levelling steep taxes on their payments for their United Nations service. All the while the government has gone back on its word and refused to implement the Technical Pay Agreement concluded three years ago in July 2019.”
“Make no mistake about it. This report serves to rebuke decades of neglect by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments which has led our Defence Forces to the point of ruin, and left our brave men and women in uniform unable to serve their country. I welcome the report’s findings, and hope that the government has the good faith to implement its recommendations in full.”