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Publication of Commission Report a defining moment for future direction of Defence Forces – John Brady TD

9 February, 2022 - by John Brady TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, in welcoming the publication of the long awaited report from the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces, has described the publication as a defining moment in the debate over the future direction of the Defence Forces.

The report, which has revealed serious shortcomings in the level of preparedness of the Defence Forces to defend Ireland's security in the face of hostile intent, clearly illustrates how successive governments have repeatedly failed the Defence Forces, with the current Minister of Defence Simon Coveney clearly having failed to give defence the priority it demands.

Teachta Brady said:

“I absolutely welcome this report, which has delivered a shocking reminder of the failure of successive governments in addressing our country’s defence needs.

“It represents a defining moment for the future direction of the Defence Forces. The key issue now is whether the government and the Minister for Defence possess the political will to address the key findings of the report.

“In real terms, the immediate priority for the government remains the exodus of personnel, which is challenging the capacity of the Defence Forces to carry out their current responsibilities. We have witnessed failure after failure by the Minister for Defence to engage with this issue. 

“One of the recommendations relates to representative association affiliation with ICTU. 

“Granting of approval for affiliation represents an immediate and actionable step which the government could take, and is one that would send an important message to Defence Forces personnel that there is a willingness to take the necessary steps to address the haemorrhaging of members.

“Such a step has the potential to illustrate a commitment to making membership of the defence forces a more palatable experience for members. 

“I strongly believe that the report requires a full Dáil debate, and I am calling on the Minister for Defence to facilitate this.

“I am aware that the Minister, the Chief of Staff, the Secretary General of the Department of Defence, and members of Representative Associations are due to appear at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in the coming weeks. While this will require a number of meetings to fully explore the recommendations of the report, there is also a need for a full Dáil debate.

“It must also be categorically stated that the principle of Irish neutrality is central to any discussion surrounding the role of the defence forces, and we must question the direction which this government appears to be leading the Defence Forces, towards full Irish participation in PESCO and an EU Army.

“Any and all discussions around Ireland’s security needs to take place with the clear understanding that we are, and intend to remain, a neutral country, and that investment in our Defence Forces must be to allow us to remain militarily neutral, in fact, not just in name.” 

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