Fianna Fáil Deputy for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy, has called for the re-establishment of the 4th Western Brigade at Custume Barracks, during a motion on the Defence Forces in Dáil Éireann recently.
Deputy Murphy said it has not always been clear since 2011 that Governments have sufficiently valued the Defence Forces.
The decision in March 2011 to assign the Defence portfolio as a subsidiary role to the Minister for Justice and Equality indicated an essential lack of respect for the position, he claims.
“I take great pride in the Army,” he commented. “Army personnel are wonderful people who, in the view of most in the country, do a very good job. Fianna Fáil has always given priority to the Defence Forces. As pointed out, there has been an alarming fall in the number of Defence Forces personnel which now stand at slightly over 9,000.
“It is a pity that this and the previous Government failed to give a senior Cabinet position to the Department. That has led, in part, to the demoralised state of the Defence Forces. In recent years, the House has not given adequate time to discussions of defence matters.
“In the 15 months prior to the February 2016 election, the then Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality discussed defence matters just once. That shows the lack of interest.”
Deputy Murphy said the Reserve Defence Force “is dying a slow death” and that if recruitment is not increased it will be wiped out.
“The 4th Western Brigade must be re-established at Custume Barracks, Athlone,” he said. “It should never have been disbanded.
“This is another example of government moving out of rural Ireland. I appeal to all Ministers and Ministers of State from the Midlands and West to support the motion. We want the re-establishment of the 4th Western Brigade in Athlone.”