Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, has welcomed Fianna Fail’s continued commitment to the Defence Forces cause detailed within the political party’s General Election manifesto.
“Under the present Government, our Defence Forces have suffered poor pay and working conditions, very bad retention of staff with record low numbers and the downgrading of Custume Barracks.
“The morale within our Defence Forces is at an all time low and noted issues urgently need to be addressed to subsequently build trust with its membership and wider families.
“Fianna Fail has always been very supportive of our military personnel and I welcome the fact that if elected to lead the Government, the party will immediately establish a pay review body and launch a commission on the future of the Defence Forces.
“Fianna Fail will also focus on increasing the numbers within the Defence Forces by re-establishing the 4th Western Brigade in Athlone.
“This is great news for Athlone as this re-balancing of the Defence Forces footprint in the State will definitely promote retention and recruitment,” Cllr. Keena stated.
The Town Mayor’s words emanated following a statement issued by General Election candidate, Deputy Robert Troy, in which he asserted that Fianna Fáil in Government would afford a commitment to military personnel issues pertaining to the establishment of a pay review body, the drafting of a retention policy focused on recruitment and the selection of a full cabinet minister to oversee the Defence Forces.
Referencing the party’s intention to re-establishing the 4th Western Brigade in Athlone with it’s headquarters in Custume Barracks in Athlone, Deputy Troy noted the strategic benefit of such a decision.
“The loss to our workforce, communities and sporting clubs when this government forced the closure of our Defence Forces headquarters in Athlone was intolerable to Westmeath and indeed surrounding areas. Strategically for this country, it makes sense to have a centralised headquarters for our army.
This is not just about ensuring our local personnel would have a better work-life balance during their significant commitment to the protection of our state, but because it also makes logical sense to position it in Athlone, at the strategic heart of this island.
“Returning the 4th western brigade to Athlone would bring back jobs to this area, give army personnel local promotion opportunities, and allow them time with their families in between intense training and operations and home and overseas, which are far more complicated when operating from far away bases
“It is also clear to Fianna Fáil that there is a need for a permanent and independent Defence Forces pay body to be established which would reflect the unique nature of military service in the broader context of pay and allowances. If in Government, we will establish a pay review body on defence as a matter of urgency,” Deputy Troy noted.