Minster must explain failure to record details of mandatory selection for overseas service appeals - John Brady TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, has questioned the failure of Military Authorities to record details of the numbers of all ranks within the Defence Forces who have been selected for mandatory overseas deployment, or the number who have appealed their mandatory selection, or how many were successful.
The Wicklow TD said:
“It is of concern that the Minister for Defence is unable to furnish details of the number of members of the Defence Forces of all ranks who have been selected for mandatory overseas service, or the number of members who have appealed the decision to select them to serve overseas against their will.
“This must be placed in the context of the alarming shortfall of personnel across the Defence Forces - a situation that is placing extraordinary pressure on serving members, who in many instances are being selected for mandatory service on a repeated basis, above and beyond the recommended rotation of members for duties.
“This is to make up for the fact that the government and the Minister have absolutely failed to tackle the issue of retention and recruitment in the Defence Forces.
“I raised the concerns expressed by RACO, the representative association for Commissioned Officers, that the Defence Forces are approaching a situation where they will no longer be able to fulfil their UN duties due to lack of numbers in the Dáil yesterday.
“This is a very serious situation, and one which the Minister needs to be more forthcoming on.
“It is unacceptable that the military authorities do not retain relevant data on this important subject. The question needs to be asked – is this an attempt to obscure the impact that this situation is having on the morale of Defence Force personnel, who struggle to maintain a meaningful work-life balance due to the excessive workload placed on them through the failure of the Minister.
“There is a pattern under the Minister’s watch where management is failing to record important data. In addition to the figures in relation to mandatory selection, there is also the failure to record data in relation to the actual number of hours worked by members of the Defence Forces.
“It appears that the Minister fears that this data would give a truer picture of how far the Defence Forces are currently stretched, as opposed to what is being presented by the Department.
“The Minister needs to provide answers as to why this is not happening, and to give an undertaking that he will immediately give instruction to the Military Authorities to begin the process of keeping accurate records in relation to all aspects of Military service.”