Athlone Town Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, has expressed his due gratitude to the consistent support afforded to the State by members of the Defence Forces.
“For too long now our Defence Forces have been taken for granted by the State and, to be honest, by much of the general public too.
“Down through the years the highly trained men and women of our Army, Naval Service and Air Corps have not received the acknowledgement, the remuneration or the respect which they wholly deserve. There has been plenty of flattery and slaps on the back, but nothing like the credit or recognition they are truly due.
“Yet again, in recent times, the state turned to the Defence Forces for assistance, this time to get involved in the Covid-19 hotel quarantine situation.
“Time and time again, as a State, we turn to our Defence Forces to conduct a range of non-core additional functions. For example - search and rescue, air ambulance service, government air transport service, assistance on the occasion of natural or other disasters on a local and national basis, assistance in connection with the maintenance of essential services. They have also been involved in a range of what are known as ‘Aid to the Civil Authorities’ (ATCA ) operations during the Covid-19 crisis,” Cllr O’Rourke remarked.
The Town Mayor further lauded the efforts of Defence Forces members at a local level.
“In Athlone, we know all about the supports provided to the local authority and the people of the town and district by the men and women of the Defence Forces. For example - our floods of 2009/10 and 2015 and in 2010 and 2018 when we were faced with impassable roads and paths because of heavy snow and ice, the Army were called upon.
“The Commission on the Defence Forces is now deliberating on the many submissions it has received from the public, the closing date for which was March 19. I made a strong submission looking for a root and branch change to how our Defence Forces work and operate. I hope the outcome of the Commission’s work results in a fair and sensible outcome for all serving personnel and that it once again is seen as a good career choice for young women and men into the future.
“In the meantime, as our Defence Forces are called on to help in ATCA operations, I just want to thank them as Mayor of Athlone for the work they do on our behalf and assure them of my support now and into the future,” Cllr O’Rourke concluded.