20 June 2019
By Elaine Murphy
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South Central Michael McGrath has said the government is ignoring the plight of our Defence Forces and failing to listen or address the serious issues facing them.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after receiving a reply in the Dáil confirming that the number of personnel in the Naval Service is at its lowest level in a decade.
Deputy McGrath explained, “Our Defence Forces are a source of great pride for people, not only here in Cork, but right across the country. Every day they serve their country, whether it is as part of UN peacekeeping missions or humanitarian operations. It is a great privilege to have the Naval Base in Cork harbour.
“Over the past number of years morale within the Defence Forces has been eroded. We regularly hear stories of troops and Naval Service personnel struggling to pay for their mortgages and basic necessities because their pay levels are so low. It is one of a number of issues which has led to a crisis in retention. Indeed, the numbers in the Naval Service have fallen to their lowest level in almost a decade – with only 989 personnel currently serving.
“The Defence Forces as a whole are now seriously below strength and it is time now to significantly rebuild. Fianna Fáil has been engaging with Defence Forces personnel and their families on an ongoing basis and fully recognises the frustration and anger they are feeling. We recently used our Private Members Time in the Dáil to highlight the plight of the Defence Forces and to call for a workable retention policy.
“Fine Gael has turned its back on the Defence Forces – the Department saves millions of euro every year on the backs of its employees – €26.5 million in 2016 – but has not seen fit to introduce retention initiatives. Ireland needs to recommit to its Defence Forces and its defence capability”, concluded Deputy McGrath.