Speaking on the second stage of the Defence (Miscellaneous Provisions ) Bill 2009 in the Seanad this week, Fine Gael Longford/ Westmeath Senator, Nicky McFadden, said any cut to the Defence Forces’ budget, which allows troops to be adequately trained and facilitates them with the most up-to-date equipment, must be avoided at all costs.
Welcoming the thrust of the Bill, Senator McFadden said it would enhance Irish missions abroad and would require that for future missions, there must be Government and Dáil agreement.
“If the morale of our troops is to be upheld we must ensure that investment in training and the procurement of appropriate equipment is maintained. The Irish Army, which is currently serving in Chad and Kosovo, is regarded with great respect around the world. In short we must not allow the high standards which have been built up over years to be diminished.
“As a native of a garrison town I am fully aware the effects that the closing down of the Longford barracks has had on the constituency. Some 200 members of the Defence Forces are based in the army barracks in Mullingar, which is the only remaining artillery barracks in the country and over 600 members are based in Athlone with the two institutions forming the mainstay of the respective towns.”