Fianna Fáil has pledged to increase Defences Forces personnel and to restore a three-brigade structure. General Election candidate in Roscommon-Galway Shane Curran has secured a commitment in the party’s manifesto that €22m will be spent on increasing the force over the next five years and to restoring the 4th Western Brigade at Custume Barracks in Athlone.
The Brideswell candidate explained: “This Government has failed to take decisive action to bolster our Defence Forces. In fact, the White Paper on Defence, published last August, did not go as far as is needed to bring personnel levels back up to strength and restore the Army structure to three brigades. Successive cuts over a five-year period has seen morale slump. This has resulted in unsustainable costs to plug operational holes around the country arising from flawed army structures imposed on the Defence Forces by this Government in 2012.
“Fianna Fáil will change that. Our manifesto has committed to a recruitment drive to bring the force up to 10,500. This includes the restoration of the Army to a three-brigade structure by re-establishing the 4th Western Brigade, based in Custume Barracks in Athlone. This move will secure more than 600 positions for military personnel living within the Roscommon-Galway constituency, and will bolster the local economy.
“Multiple global threats such as the escalation in terrorist atrocities in Europe highlight the need to have a Defence Force equipped to confront a rapidly changing risk assessment in order to guarantee Irish State interests, critical national infrastructure and its citizens.
“We want to rebalance the geographic disparity that currently exists in the Defence Forces by supporting the re-establishment of a three-brigade structure and reopening the 4th Western Brigade based in Athlone.
“We need to safeguard the future of our Defence Forces in the regions and restoring the regional status of the barracks in Athlone is a core priority for Fianna Fáil in Government.”